InsideChats’s Educational Talks: Burnout

“The most fruitful breaks are often those we are or were forced to take by life.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Just like the previous Educational Talk about stress burnout is common and experienced by many of us, especially individuals in demanding and stressful work environments. Burnout is a “state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress” (Smith, Segal, & Robinson, 2020), and is caused by excessive psychological and emotional demands of helping others, which can be experienced in school, work and in households. So prolonged stress = burnout, well let’s look at some ways to prevent burnout.

Stress vs. Burnout
StressBurnout
Characterized by over-engagement.Characterized by disengagement.
Emotions are overreactive.Emotions are blunted.
Produces urgency and hyperactivity.Produces helplessness and hopelessness.
Loss of energy.Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope.
Leads to anxiety disorders.Leads to detachment and depression.
Primary damage is physical.Primary damage is emotional.
May kill you prematurely.May make life seem not worth living.
See original article — Burnout Prevention & Treatment

Preventions

  • Practice good sleep habits
  • Exercise
  • Practice healthy eating habits & have a balanced diet
  • Ask for help
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Causes of Burnout

  • Work Related
    • Poor work conditions
    • Job demands
    • Work-family conflict
    • Excessive workload
    • Lack of recognition or reward for good work
  • Lifestyle Causes
    • Increased work focus, decreased social/personal life focus
    • Little to no support systems
    • Taking on too many responsibilities with no help
    • Decreased sleep
  • Personality Traits that Contribute
    • Perfectionistic tendencies
    • Pessimistic views
    • The need for control; unable to delegate tasks due to fear of them not being done right
    • High-achieving personality type
Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

Signs of Burnout

  • Exhaustion: You feel physically and emotionally drained with p some physical symptoms being headaches, stomachaches, and appetite or sleeping changes.
  • Isolation: You will most likely feel overwhelmed so you stop hanging out with friends and family.
  • Escape fantasies: You become dissatisfied with the high job demands so you spend time daydreaming about a vacation, but just for yourself. If you can’t escape physically then you start using drugs, alcohol, or food as a to numb your pain and replace your desires.
  • Irritability: You might lose your cool more quickly with people that you care about like friends, co-workers, and family members. Normal, daily routines feel like chores and if something changes from the routine you will lash out on the person closest.
  • Frequent illnesses: As mentioned before, there are health risks like a weakened immune system which in turn makes you more susceptible to colds, the flu, and insomnia (Fraga, 2018).

12 Stages of Burnout

  1. Excessive drive
  2. Pushing self to work harder
  3. Neglecting your needs & no self-care
  4. Displayed anger & frustration = Conflict
  5. No time for non-work needs
  6. Denial
  7. Withdrawal
  8. Behavioral changes
  9. Depersonalization
  10. Inner emptiness & anxiety
  11. Depression
  12. Mental & physical exhaustion
Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Burnout = Depression & Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can be some of the symptoms of burnout and can manifest in different ways:

  • Depression
    • Feeling hopeless
    • Loss of pleasure in activities
    • Changes in appetite
    • Fatigue
    • Physiological symptoms
    • Thoughts of suicide
    • Self harm
    • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Anxiety
    • Feelings of dread
    • Expecting the worse
    • Constant tension
    • Irritability
    • Mind fog
    • Physical symptoms such as:
      • Rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, etc

Coping & Avoiding Burnout

The three R’s approach:

  • Recognize. Watch for the warning signs of burnout.
  • Reverse. Undo the damage by seeking support and managing stress.
  • Resilience. Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health.
Photo by Sam Lion on Pexels.com

Other:

  • Use resources like therapy
  • Take control of your environment
  • Engaging in self care
  • Time management
  • Schedule socialization time
  • Practice relaxation techniques

“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. False optimism is like administrating stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.”
― Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man

References

Fraga, J. (2018). Healthline: Guide to burnout. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/tips-for-identifying-and-preventing-burnout#signs

Smith, M., Segal, J., & Robinson, L. (2020). Burnout prevention and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.html

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