How Zayn Malik’s whirlwind shows effects of stress and burnout

Currently, all eyes are on Zayn Malik, who has lately quit One Direction

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A hectic lifestyle can put individuals under severe pressure, leading to the feeling of exhaustion, emptiness, prolonged stress and ultimately the inability to cope.

Currently, all eyes are on Zayn Malik, who has lately quit One Direction. Zayn recently spoke out that he wanted to be ‘a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time.’

Zayn was thrust into the spotlight at the tender age of 17, after being persuaded to audition for The X Factor. Up until recently, he was part of one of the most successful boy bands globally. Being in the limelight at such a young age can be hard. Some celebrities cannot handle the pressure and others seek professional help.

Most of us cannot relate to stardom, and stress is by no means something that only affects the rich and famous. However, there are a few things we can learn from celebrity breakdowns and the over exhaustion we see amongst this group of people. Firstly, being a celebrity is effectively a juggling act; celebrities have back-to-back schedules that need to be managed. Many of us do not have the luxury of a Personal Assistant, so there are some ways to manage your time effectively. Setting your priorities in the form of lists can help you feel in control. Initially, understand your priorities and ask yourself, “What should I focus on?” “What areas need my attention right now?” Your priorities can change over time so re-evaluate them regularly.

Personal time is something that is often neglected by those in the spotlight. Relationships are important and in Zayn’s case his relationship was under scrutiny, which could have been a factor contributing to his stress. Close relationships are fundamental for our wellbeing and in turn our happiness. Strong relationships with family and friends allow us to share our feelings and give us emotional support. It is important for all of us to balance work and personal time as effectively as possible. In Dubai, many of us are expatriates, away from our family network. Individuals in this part of the world should try to build some solid friendships in the region they are residing so they can easily discuss issues and share feelings. Today we have the benefit of electronic communication to keep in touch with our loved ones abroad.

Zayn mentioned wanting to be ‘a normal 22 year old’ and therefore taking some ‘time out’ to do things that he really enjoys. According to Morgan Spurlock who directed the band’s 2013 film documentary, ‘He's a homebody and wanted nothing more than to sit in his house, spray paint, draw and do art. Being on the road and away from his girlfriend just got to him.’ Even if you have a busy schedule, ‘you’ time should not be compromised, make sure to do things that you personally enjoy, such as going for a jog, reading or playing tennis.

Similarly, I am certain most celebrities find it difficult to fit in adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you are sleep deficient, you are less likely to sufficiently regulate emotions and behaviour and therefore more likely to feel stressed and depressed. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that participants who were reduced to 4.5 hours of sleep per night for a one-week period reported feeling sadder, stressed, angry and mentally exhausted. When the participants returned to a usual sleep pattern, they reported a vast improvement in mood.

We wish Zayn all the best. Some people do not have the luxury of managing their daily lives in a way they envisage and might have to make a tough decision accordingly. Zayn gave up a lucrative career in One Direction in pursuit of a more peaceful life, away from the stress that comes with being a celebrity. ‘Last year, we had One Direction [estimated] at $75 million, which put them in our top 10 on our Celebrity 100 list. It is mostly fueled by live shows but also record sales and merchandise sales,’ Greenburg at Forbes mentioned. Stardom is not for everyone and we think it is brave he made this decision to quit. In Zayn’s case, money did not buy happiness!

Nicola Turne, Organizational Psychology at Human Relations Institute & Clinics based in Washington D.C.