What is Burnout?
Burnout is an emotional, physical and mental state caused by excessive and prolonged work-related stress. It occurs when you feel emotionally drained, overwhelmed and no longer able to meet constant demands.
Anyone can be inflicted with burnout regardless of who you are. Modern society has glorified stress and we all want to be viewed as the best, so we tend to keep quiet and shut up about the stress we face.
Burnout is a personal and complex issue that affects an estimated 28% of working Americans overall. The rate of burnout is higher depending on your career path. If you work as a highly stressed out professional like a Surgeon or a Physician the rate of burnout is more than 50%.
Busyness and stress are so commonplace that we have a hard time telling the difference between being temporarily bogged down by stress and having a much larger problem like burnout.
Burnout can spillover into everyday life and can affect your home, work and social life.
The type of burnout being discussed in this blog is workplace burnout.
Burnout is characterized by:
Physical Symptoms: These include chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting and headaches.
Cynicism: A common symptom of burnout that’s characterized by the belief that people are only out for themselves and no one can be trusted. This can cause loss of enjoyment, pessimism about the future and feelings of isolation.
Detachment: A feeling of disconnection from others or from your environment.
Feeling a Lack of Accomplishment: A perceived lack of success characterized by feelings of apathy, hopelessness and feelings of ineffectiveness. Overtime this leads to lower productivity and poor performance at work.
Lower Resistance to Illness: Burnout overtime can lead to the depletion of the body’s immune system and making someone more prone to infections, colds, flu and other immune related ailments.
Depleted energy levels: The early stages of burnout can leave someone with a lack of energy and feel tired most days. Over time they’ll feel physically and emotionally exhausted and start having feelings of dread about what tomorrow brings.
Loss of Appetite: Someone may not feel hungry and skip a few meals, but they may lose their appetite altogether and start losing a significant amount of weight.
Anxiety: Starts out as mild symptoms of tension, worry and eagerness. Overtime anxiety can become so serious that it interferes with your ability to work productively and can cause problems in your personal life.
Depression: It starts out as feeling mildly sad and occasionally feel hopeless, guilty and worthless. Prolonged stress of burnout can make depression worse by making someone feel trapped and in severe cases can make them think that the world would be better off without them. If depression gets that severe call a professional.
Sleep Problems: Someone may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least one or two nights a week. Overtime they can develop insomnia.
Why Do We Get Burned Out?
Burnout can be caused by:
Heavy Workload: Trying to do more work than we can complete and can cause stress.
Lack of Control: When we’re given an appropriate level of responsibility and have the tools or resources needed to do our jobs well we’ll feel satisfied and competent in our jobs. However, if we don’t have those things we can feel a lack of control.
Insufficient Reward: Sufficient rewards include financial rewards like high pay and good benefits, social rewards such as recognition from the company we work for and Intrinsic rewards such as the feeling that we’re doing a job well. Burnout happens when all three of these rewards are lacking and we start feeling dissatisfied.
Lack of Community: If a workplace has a strong sense of community that includes good team work, low levels of conflict and positive social interactions it can make a workplace less stressful. However, if the opposite is true and there’s no team work, high levels of conflict and negative social interactions the workplace can become toxic and more stressful.
Absence of Fairness: We can develop feelings of being disrespected if there is a perceived lack of fairness in the workplace. Many examples of perceived unfairness include unequal workload or pay, workplace cheating, promotions and evaluations being mishandled and disputes being resolved poorly.
If these workplace related issues occur it’s important to talk to your employer or talk to a colleague.
Can Personality Traits Play A Role In Burnout?
According to Forbes.com personality traits can play a role in burnout.
The Workaholic: An individual that is performance oriented and struggles with lack of self-care and a neglected personal life.
The People Pleaser: An individual that is overly agreeable and feels responsible for how other people feel. They tend to have trouble saying “no” due to putting someone else’s needs before theirs.
The Perfectionist: An individual that strives for flawlessness and setting high performance standards. They feel like impostors on the inside.
There are many problems that occur that can make you more prone to burnout:
Debt: Student loans, credit card debt, mortgages and car loans.
Uncertain Work: Lack of job security.
Unrealistic Expectations: Having expectations that are beyond your energy, skills, talents and time.
Being Time-Poor: No finding time to take care of yourself.
Financially Struggling: Financial worries are a major source of stress.
Bad Sleep Habits: Not getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night can make you less resilient to stress.
Drinking Too Much Coffee: Drinking too much coffee can make anxiety worse.
Sedentary Lifestyle: Anxious from lying on the couch watching TV and eating the wrong foods.
What Can We Do About Burnout?
Burnout doesn’t go away on its own and it gets worse if it’s causes aren’t addressed.
Get Help: Burnout can be a serious health problem, so it’s important to see a professional for treatment.
Focus on your own health and well being: Focusing on sleep, exercise and eating well can help you recover from burnout. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night can replenish our health and well being by boosting our immune system and allows for our bodies to repair themselves. Exercise is beneficial for both health and well being along with eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Find a Release: Finding a way to let off some steam is very important for your health and well being along with relieving work related stress. Whether it’s gardening, video games, hiking or kayaking these activities are not only fun, they’re good for letting off steam.
Take a Vacation: It’s important to get away from it all, whether it’s a long weekend in the mountains, a vacation in Florida or even working remotely in a park, coffee shop or at home.
Realign Your Life to What You Really Want: Burnout may be caused by an underlying problem with what you are doing with your life. Are you happy in your job? Should you quit your job? What is your purpose in life? It’s important to ask these questions, because feeling stuck in a life you’re not happy in can spin you into a burnout loop.
Learn How to Say “no”: Saying no is very important for maintaining healthy boundaries and enables others to have clarity about what they can expect from you.It’s also important for deflecting distractions, staying true to yourself and you won’t beat yourself up mentally.
Overhaul Your Life: If the burnout loop continues even after rest and relaxation there might be a much bigger problem. It’s important to learn that your success not only hinges on good grades and hard work, but also your ability to be resilient in the face of stress.
It’s possible to be successful without burning out. It starts with leaving behind the mindset and habits that cause stress to build up and to make choices that lead to better overall health and well being.
- It’s very important to reevaluate your life to pinpoint what is leading to burnout.
- Break free from burnout by identifying what your needs are.
- Hire a life coach to help you break burnout inducing habits.
- Identify personalized strategies to boost your resilience.
How do you handle stress to avoid burnout?
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