Burnout: ‘Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired’

Amber Coster

“I was working non-stop. The company was almost like a love affair. I call it ‘my greatest love affair’, because it felt so, so important.

“My identity was so wrapped up with work. If I wasn’t doing that job, I didn’t really know who I was.”

In 2017, Amber Coster was a glamorous highflyer in a senior role at a successful tech start-up, in her late 20s and travelling the world.

“On paper, my life looked incredible,” she says.

Having migraines

But she was ignoring some significant signs that all was not well.

“I used to say I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired,” Amber says.

And in addition to chronic fatigue and nausea, she was having migraines, extreme abdominal pain, skin rashes and eczema.

Her GP diagnosed a recurrence of teenage glandular fever.

‘Couldn’t walk’

And Amber, who lives in London, took two weeks off work to recover – but things got worse.

“I lost my words – I couldn’t speak properly,” she says.

“I’d sit at dinner with my partner and ask him to ‘pass the post’ instead of ‘the water’.

“I couldn’t read numbers.

“I couldn’t walk down to the shops – I’d have to sit down on somebody’s garden wall.”

‘Felt crazy’

As the two weeks off turned into six months, doctors carried out countless tests.

One told her she had the blood-test results of “a 20-year-old Olympian”.

“I just cried,” she says.

“I knew that there was something wrong and I felt crazy,” she says.

Fewer hours

What the doctors didn’t know – and Amber herself hadn’t confronted – was she had been working extremely hard.

She had regularly been getting up at 05:30 to send emails, working through until 23:30, when she fell into bed, and cancelling weekend plans in order to do yet more work – all the while telling her team to ensure they made time to relax.

Nobody had said anything to her about her own routine.

Even when she had made an effort to spend fewer hours working, she had felt unable to switch off.

‘Lion culture’

She describes the company, where she had been a senior manager, as “a very aggressive, high-sales, revenue-first organisation”.

Its product was software enabling other businesses to run 24-7 and Amber says she had felt like she was becoming a part of the tech herself.

“We spoke about greatness a lot,” she says.

“And we spoke about ‘lion culture’.

“We spoke about being strong and we spoke about being brave and doing things that other people don’t do.

“We spoke about being ‘exceptional’.”

‘Mental treadmill’

Eventually, after she turned to a psychiatrist, Amber realised it was her mental health rather than her body that was, in her words, “broken”.

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Media captionHow to spot if you are suffering ‘burnout’

Physical symptoms of burnout are a common warning sign, sleep expert and author Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says.

“I’ve seen a great deal of this – and I’m seeing more and more of it,” she tells BBC News.

“The way in which we’re using technology and information and screens puts us very much ‘in our head’.

“If we were paying more attention to what’s happening in the body and getting off that mental treadmill, we would notice the niggles, the little aches and pains, the little early warning signals long before they become huge, great crescendos and screams for help.”

Dr Ramlakhan advises taking screen breaks, however small, as often as possible – on the commute, in the bathroom, at lunch, keeping phones out of bedrooms at night, alongside healthy eating and going to bed at a reasonable time.

“Little things like that can start to make a difference after seven to 10 days,” she says.

Dr Ramlakhan’s spiral of burnout

  • Step 1: Constant feelings of pressure and anxiety; a feeling of having too much to do; waking up with it in the pit of your stomach, starting the day with coffee and your phone
  • Step 2: You stop taking breaks during the day; you start working longer hours, you’re taking work home with you; your work spills over into your weekend, your family time; you’re even sitting on the toilet working
  • Step 3: Physical symptoms will bubble up: this might be headaches and migraines, or irritable bowel, or cold sores or lots of little niggling colds, which just don’t go away, or aches and pains in the body
  • Step 4: Until now your work is probably unaffected but your behaviour may become more erratic, more impatient, more arguments with colleagues, you are more tetchy, irritable, you may make more mistakes or become irrationally perfectionist; you feel unable to delegate anything; you might start to have very serious muscular-skeletal problems, back problems, neck and shoulder problems
  • Step 5: Clients might start to complain; then, you hit rock bottom, serious burnout, serious anxiety, depression, serious medical problems, and that’s where you could be signed off

Amber recovered and returned to her job.

She started doing some coaching around mental health and colleagues began to open up to her: the father who felt unable to talk about his children in the office because he feared it was a distraction, the woman whose marriage was failing because she wasn’t spending time with her partner, others who felt unwell but worried they simply “weren’t tough enough”.

But when she discussed making changes at the company at a senior level, she was met with a mixed response.

On the one hand, they cared about the staff, she says, but on the other, they believed her experience was uncommon and most people “needed a bit more of a push” to get their jobs done.

Mental fitness

Tech may be part of the “always-on” problem but entrepreneur Jana Dowling believes it could also hold the solution.

A serious mental-health crisis inspired her new app, designed to help people track their mental health in the same way they might track their diet, weight or workouts, and look for correlations in data between, for example, anxiety levels and sleep, or caffeine consumption and work stress.

Image copyright Daniel Gardiner/Twisty Images

Image caption Jana Dowling

The app, MyArkeo, has received over £1m ($1.2m) in investment.

“We’re here to change the way people think about what it means to be fit, to include tracking their mental fitness,” she says.

It is aimed primarily at 25- to 40-year-old professionals.

And the questions asked by MyArkeo can be answered only once a day, in order to avoid additional anxiety or encourage excessive screen time.

“We’re not a diagnosing tool. We’re not a treatment tool,” Jana says.

“We’re built as a tracking-performance tool to help people enhance their lives and their mental fitness.”

Amber has now left her old company, bought a house, got married, run a marathon and started her own company, Balpro – with a mission to “help businesses balance aggressive revenue goals with employee wellbeing”.

“I used to believe that ‘exceptional’ was making sure that PowerPoint

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was perfect, or we were getting that deal, or that this training was above the bar,” she says.

“What I now realise is that exceptional is finishing work and having dinner with your kids, or being present for a friend who’s in need. Exceptional is standing up and saying, ‘Hey, I need some help.'”

via Hacker News https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-50604035

Photographer Shows The Atmosphere Of Utopian Hong Kong Of The 80s, Its Landscapes And Surreal Architectural Forms, Frozen In Timelessness Ander The Diffused Sunlight

Alexey Kozhenkov tries to capture the era of change which saw an incomprehensible amount of development as it relates to the business world.

Now, as seen in the photographs, Hong Kong is marked with the reputation of a dense jungle of concrete buildings and lavish real-estate. The style of architecture may be seen as old in the new modern world, but at the time, it featured significant accomplishments which resemble a sign of the times and a memory of the past.

“The series “Ambient Metropolis light” shows the atmosphere of utopian Hong Kong of the 80s, its landscapes and surreal architectural forms, frozen in timelessness under the diffused sunlight.

This time was for Hong Kong an era of change and was marked by an unprecedented pace of construction, which made Hong Kong a city with extremely dense buildings and expensive real estate. Huge residential complexes and public spaces built in the style of architectural modernism are now old and Hong Kong has changed significantly, but these buildings keep the memory of the past.”

More: Instagram, Facebook, Behance h/t: fubiz

via https://designyoutrust.com/2020/01/photographer-shows-the-atmosphere-of-utopian-hong-kong-of-the-80s-its-landscapes-and-surreal-architectural-forms-frozen-in-timelessness-ander-the-diffused-sunlight/

Destroyed Apple Products As Art In Stunning Photographs By Michael Tompert And Paul Fairchild

When does an iPhone or an iPad cease to be a mere consumer gadget and enter the rarefied world of visual art? How about when someone willfully destroys it, turning it into an abstract, brutalized husk of its former self?

h/t: latimes

A series of smashed, mangled, shot up and melted Apple products are the subject of a recent photography project by a San Francisco-area graphic designer who said he’s trying to make people think about their relationship with these universally beloved gadgets.

Michael Tompert said he had spent the last several months purchasing the newest in Apple consumer technology and then creatively destroying the pricey toys.

Tompert said the idea for the project came to him after he gave each of his two sons an iPod touch for Christmas. He said the two boys fought over one of the devices, which had a certain game on it. Fed up with the quarrel, Tompert said he grabbed one of the iPods and smashed it on the ground.

“They were kind of stunned — the screen was broken and this liquid poured out of it. I got my camera to shoot it,” Tompert said. “My wife told me that I should do something with it.”

In all, Tompert created 12 images of destroyed Apple products, working with his friend Paul Fairchild, a photographer. “They had to be a brand-new product,” Tompert said. “It’s not about destroying old products. It’s about our relationship with the new.”

His methods of destruction varied by gadget. To destroy an iPhone 3G device, he used a Heckler & Koch handgun to blow a hole through it. To obliterate a set of iPod Nanos, he placed the devices on a train track so that a locomotive would run over them.

The most difficult product to obliterate was the iPad — “it’s practically indestructible,” Tompert said.

IpadHe said the iPad withstood blows from a sledgehammer and other blunt tools. In the end, he used a soldering torch to heat the insides of the iPad until they started to boil and the device exploded.

Some people may think it crazy to purchase new, expensive technology products only to destroy them. Tompert said the photography project was intended to be humorous and tongue in cheek. At the same time, he wanted people to think more deeply about their relationship to these ubiquitous devices.

“They’re designed to be so bare-boned and simple — like the monolith in ‘2001’ — and everyone is going crazy around it,” he said. “I wanted to say relax, let’s see what’s in it.”

via https://designyoutrust.com/2020/01/destroyed-apple-products-as-art-in-stunning-photographs-by-michael-tompert-and-paul-fairchild/

Thai Woman Creates Hilarious Instagram Vs. Reality Collages

For many, Instagram is the highlight reel of their lives. They show off their exotic trips, fancy meals, strike a sexy pose in front of expensive toys, and it’s totally their choice. However, if you drown yourself in the sea of winning shots, you might end up with the impression that all of their days look like that. And feel like a loser when comparing yourself to those unachievable standards.

So it’s healthy to remind yourself that not only are these pictures showing just a tiny part of their lives, but that there are dozens of outtakes behind those glamorous shots as well. Maybe the angle gave them a double chin, maybe a dog was pooping in the background; these pictures get discarded.

More: Instagram, Youtube h/t: boredpanda

Vienna became a model when she was 19 years old. “I went to Tokyo for a vacation when I had about 10K followers on Twitter. I met a girl there and we ended up taking a photo together while we were walking on the street. After she posted our photo online, her modeling agency contacted me and asked me to work with them,” Vienna told Bored Panda.

Vienna said she mostly uses Instagram to document her trips around the world. “I love traveling and photography so I want people to know more about me and all the places I go to.”

For her Instagram vs. Reality series, Vienna used some after-effects on the “perfect” photos to really highlight the discrepancy between the side-by-side pics. “On those photos, I used an app called Ulike.” This software lets people “fine-tune” themselves, offering to touch-up their eyes, nose and mouth.”

However, the “real” ones weren’t manipulated at all, I just used my normal camera. That’s why my face looks super different in them.”

via https://designyoutrust.com/2020/01/thai-woman-creates-hilarious-instagram-vs-reality-collages/

This children’s book on the miracle of life is very graphic and very anatomically correct

Da solen stod op om natten, often translated as How a Baby Is Made or The True Story of How Babies Are Made, was originally published in 1972. Written by 1971 by Danish psychotherapist Per Holm Knudsen, it actually won a Danish Ministry of Culture Children’s Book prize for its, uhh, highly accurate depiction of where, in fact, babies come from:

On one hand, this is uhhh, pretty graphic. On the other: well, maybe it’s better that we stop lying to children and treating sex like some shameful secret. So in that case, it’s pretty good. Just not in a creepy way.

But if that’s the kind of thing you want to share with your kids, you can pick up a used copy on Amazon for around $50.

This ridiculous sex ed book demonstrates everything that was awesome about the 1970s [Jam Kotenko / Daily Dot]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

via Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2020/01/15/this-childrens-book-on-the.html

Generic brands are dominating on Amazon and it shows why the online giant struggling to be seen as a fashion destination


Cheap, unbranded apparel is leading the pack on Amazon’s site, according to a new report from Coresight Research.

Coresight looked at nearly 1 million clothing items for men and women across Amazon and found that inexpensive unbranded apparel, dubbed "generic brands," was dominating on the site. 

Its research showed that the number of listings of these unbranded items had grown by 906% between September 2018 and 2019, overshadowing legacy names such as Nike, Calvin Klein, and Adidas, for example.

"The "generic" apparel label is applied to over 65,000 products on Amazon Fashion and is, therefore, the most-listed "brand," Coresight analysts wrote in the report. "This is notable as consumers may be seeking more inexpensive, non-branded apparel."

This research is particularly interesting as Amazon doubles down on its mission to be seen as a fashion destination. While it is a top seller for basics, the online giant has had less success bringing customers in to shop for more fashionable pieces. 

But it has been working hard to overcome this, developing many new private label brands, rolling out its Prime Wardrobe – a try-before-you-buy service with free return shipping – and more recently, launching The Drop, a fashion shopping experience that offers on-demand products available for purchase for only 30 hours at a time.

Amazon is also said to be making plans to launch a luxury fashion platform that will work similarly to a concession in a high-end specialty store, according to a recent report from WWD.

While Amazon told Business Insider that it does not comment on "rumors or speculation," if the site did come to fruition it could play a crucial role in improving its image in the fashion world and helping it to break into the luxury space. 

NOW WATCH: Gold can cost $1,500 per ounce — here’s why it’s so expensive

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Costco proves why it’s Amazon-proof as stores like Target and Macy’s struggle

via Business Insider https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-struggles-to-be-seen-as-a-fashion-destination-2020-1?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=referral

Steve Bannon: US government should 100% force Apple to backdoor iPhones

He also said that Apple should treat the President’s tweets "like a papal bull".

What you need to know

  • Steve Bannon has said that President Trump will "drop the hammer" on tech companies that don’t cooperate with investigators seeking information.
  • He further suggested that Apple should treat the tweets of President Trump "like a papal bull."
  • When asked if he thought it was appropriate for the government to force Apple to provide backdoor access to phones he said: "Yes, a hundred percent".

In an interview with CNBC, Steve Bannon has stated that he believes it is 100% appropriate for the US government to force Apple to provide backdoor access to iPhones.

In wake of ever-growing chatter around the FBI and Apple’s role in assisting the government with unlocking the phones of criminals, Bannon interviewed with the network on Wednesday, January 15.

When asked "Do you believe it’s appropriate for the US government to force Apple to provide a.. backdoor access to those phones?" he replied:

"Yes, a hundred percent, I don’t think there’s any doubt."

Any such tool would work on every iPhone, not just the phones in this story, an unbelievably dangerous prospect that would severely undermine the security of iOS.

When asked if he thought that was antithetical to US criticism of the Chinese government and its relationship with Huawei, he disputed the notion on the basis that Apple remains a private company, in contrast, he said: "Huawei is the PLA." (People’s Liberation Army)

On Tim Cook and Donald Trump, he said that recent events would change their relationship dramatically and that the President was going to "drop the hammer on this." He further said:

"If I were the guys at Apple, I would pay attention to President Trump’s tweets… I would treat his tweets like a papal bull."

Bannon is of course not part of President Trump’s administration and does not speak on its behalf, however, the very suggestion that it would be appropriate for a government to force a private company to turn on its users in the manner suggested is a pretty bold and evocative statement.

The airwaves have been awash with this story over the last week or so. Most recently it emerged that the FBI reportedly extracted data from a locked iPhone 11 Pro Max in 2019, further calling into question the need for Apple to create a backdoor to iOS.

via iMore – The #1 iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch blog https://www.imore.com/steve-bannon-says-its-100-appropriate-us-government-force-apple-backdoor-iphones