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Stress Management: Are You a Candidate for Burnout?
Do you lately feel lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm and meaning in your work, pessimism, increased dissatisfaction, absenteeism and inefficiency at work?
Depression, inability to sleep, increasing anxiety, worries, irritability, difficulties to concentrate and frequent sicknesses?
You’re exhausted all the time and caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
Those are signs of burnout and you may be on the road to burnout.
What is Burnout?
"Burnout is, at its heart, a loss of self and connection to life. Your ability to be present, your creativity, compassion, and humanity simply go missing. It’s like some one has stretched a sheet of plastic wrap over the world, sealing away the juice. Life seems parched, dry, and without possibility. Sound like depression? While there are a dozen stages to burnout—beginning with zealous overwork and culminating with emotional and physical collapse--the latter stages do mimic depression. But antidepressants won’t help. You need to change your course drastically and revive the aliveness, curiosity, joy, and pleasure that make life at its best an exciting adventure", writes Joan Borysenko, Ph.D, the author of Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive, one of the leading experts on stress, spirituality, and the mind/body connection.
“Burnout is a state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J Freudenberger coined the term ‘burnout in 1974
“Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” - Ayala Pines & Elliott Aronson
The signs and symptoms of burnout are similar to those of stress, but burnout includes an emotional exhaustion and an increasingly negative attitude toward your work and life in general. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring.
Burnout is the result of continued, unrelieved and unmanaged long-term stress. Many times related to stress at work. I was there and know a lot about job burnout.
If job burnout affects your interpersonal relationships, work performance or your health, you have cause to be concerned. When you are overworked and emotionally drained, it becomes very difficult to interact with other people, and often we start isolating ourselves from them.
Some people who suffer from burnout also resort to addictive behaviors such as substance abuse. This dependency on substances can cause significant harm and serious problems if the root cause is not addressed.
Symptoms and Signs of Burnout
Physical signs of burnout include:
- digestive problems
- high blood pressure
- heart attacks
- teeth grinding
- chronic physical fatigue - feeling tired much of the time
- frequent illness
- sleep problems
Emotional and behavioral signs include:
- powerlessness and hopelessness
- increased alcohol, nicotine, drug, caffeine intake
- little satisfaction from your work
- withdrawal and isolation from interpersonal relationships
- insecurity about your competence and abilities
- increased irritability and negative emotions,increasingly pessimistic outlook
- increased impatience, moodiness, inexplicable sadness
Burnout Speeds Premature Aging
"Burnout can certainly make you feel old before your time," says C. David Jenkins, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine and community health at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
"Burnout tends to drain people of the physiological and mental reserves that are, in youth, typically there to keep them going. Luckily, burnout does not necessarily age people or take years off their lives in a permanent fashion. It can be reversed."
Burnout can be reversed! Keep reading and learn the ways to cope with a burnout.
Burnout and Women
"If you have ever seen a building that has been burned out, you know it's a devastating sight. What had once been a throbbing, vital structure is now deserted. Where there had once been activity, there are now only crumbling reminders of energy and life. Some bricks or concrete may be left; some outline of windows. Indeed, the outer shell may seem almost intact. Only if you venture inside will you be struck by the full force of the desolation."
This is the opening of the 1980 book, Burn-Out: The High Cost of Achievement, written by Dr. Herbert Freudenberger, the first person to describe the syndrome known as burnout.
Believe it or not, burnout was once thought to be a man's problem. Today, we know all too well that it's not. "I'm seeing more and more women coming in with symptoms of burnout," says Herbert J. Freudenberger.
"In part, I think this is due to the expanded, multi-role lives they lead as mothers, wives and professionals."
Professional women today face many roles and significant stressors, many of which are different than those faced by men or even women of previous generations. For most women, stress ranks at the top of the list of daily problems.
Daily stress floods your body with a cascade of hormones: adrenaline pumps up blood pressure and makes your heart beat faster; cortisol raises your blood sugar level, and, if it remains chronically elevated, can erode your overall health and eventually can lead to burnout.
When symptoms of stress levels rise and become too much to cope with, or it feels like you have reached the point of burnout it may be time to seek professional help.
Factors Causing Burnout
All factors causing burnout fall into three groups:
- Job related burnout
- Lifestyle related burnout.
- Personality related burnout
"Burnout exhausted as a result of long term stress is the biggest occupational hazard of the 21st century," says Christina Maslach, Ph.D., coauthor of Banishing Burnout: Six Strategies for Improving Your Relationship with Work.
Other Ways to Cope with Burnout
- Recognize the symptoms and signs of burnout and ask for help
- Set limits and boundaries for yourself – learn to say NO!!
- Identify your responsibilities, prioritize and delegate
- Change your work and home environment
- Develop an interest in stress relieving activities
- Eat healthy, get plenty of exercise and enough sleep
- Spend more time laughing and maintain positive focus!
- Dont rush, live mindfully and stay in the Here and Now
- Simplify your life
- Learn how to manage stress. When you’re on the road to burnout, you may feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. Learning how to manage stress can help you regain your balance.
About the Author
Dr. Inese Millere M.D. is a medical doctor turned diplomat, turned lifestyle coach in holistic stress management and mindful eating for busy women after 40 who want to be Fit, Balanced and Ageless: to manage stress, stress eating, have a healthy and joyful relationship with food and enjoy healthy living and longevity.