Using the DCS Model to Fight Emotional Burnout

Using the DCS Model to Fight Emotional Burnout

Across the globe, we’ve been faced with making the best out of a crisis.  And that’s putting it lightly.

While adjusting to our new normal, it can be difficult to find a rhythm and flow.  Instead of smooth sailing, we are experiencing some bumpy roads that come with sharp turns and curves.  With so many unexpected directions, we can feel like we’ve lost control of our lives.  Literally, every other day, something new is being’s hard to keep up with it all.

Whether you are on the front lines literally sacrificing your life or working from your home...and hopefully, that IS where you stay...adjusting to this way of life can cause a lot of stress as we pause our former life routines.  We are figuring out how to handle work in a new and way, the one thing we have to combat is burnout.

Adapting to working at home and managing your home life at the same time is tricky.  If you’re trying to balance it all, there is a way to help you manage the stress of your career during these times.

The DCS Model,  short for Demand - Control - Support is a method that helps people manage emotional work stress BEFORE burnout occurs.  Before we find ourselves Let’s walk through the steps of this model.

The first step in the DCS Model is demand.  If you are being faced with tight deadlines, projects that exceed a normal level of difficulty, increased workloads, and longer hours, you are in a place of demand.  Have you ever had a coworker quit and your boss adds their outstanding work to your plate instead of hiring a new person?  This is a demand situation. Even if you work on a team, you are the sole person responsible for a set amount of work.  

In this step of the model, assess what’s on your plate and take it to your manager, director or whomever you report into.  Have a discussion about the workload and ask that it be reduced.  Reduce the demand on you.  Prepare for some pushback.  Organizations, for the most part, care about the bottom dollar.  If it’s more economical to have one person carry the load for two jobs, then they’ll try to keep it that way.  Don’t be afraid to present your case.  In the end, if you’re mental health is really at risk, it’s better they offload the work than be down two employees.

Next, is control.  Here in the control portion of the model you want to assess what you can control. Using the same example, if you’ve been given additional work that seems to extend your capabilities, review the work to determine what you can handle.  Take governance on what you can control. Maybe you have the capacity to wake up an hour earlier to do certain tasks. Maybe you can delegate something to another coworker. Maybe you can arrange your schedule such that these additional projects can be done.  This is all about taking matters into your own hands and handling the situation.

The last piece in this model is support.  This one is not a last resort, but another option and likely one that is going to be well-received.  Reach out to a coworker or your boss and request that you share the workload with someone else.  It may not result in them receiving all of the work.  But you may split tasks on an assignment, or share responsibility for a project.  This takes the stress and spreads it across two or more people. Remember the old saying, “Many hands makes work light.”  Support makes things collaborative and alleviates emotional stress.

If you are working from home or at your place of business and stress is mounting up.  Before reaching a place of emotional burnout, consider the Demand-Control-Support Model to help you manage things.  Things have already taken a turn that we didn’t expect.  Let’s work to care about our mental health and reduce stress and burnout by implementing the DCS Model.


By: Danada Hart

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