The term “burnout” has recently become very popular. Specialists define it as a state of physical or emotional exhaustion, which includes feelings of insecurity and loss of personality. But burnout is more than just a feeling of frustration and exhaustion from work. The World Health Organization actually classifies it as a medical diagnosis. Yet many people don’t quite understand what burnout is, even if they are experiencing it themselves. It is useful to know the facts that can help to prevent a burnout or to learn how to cope with it more effectively.
Not the same as stress
Emotional burnout is very similar to stress. These two phenomena are closely connected. But it is important to know the difference. Stress occurs over a short period of time because of certain circumstances. Burnout occurs when we are stressed or depressed for a long period of time. One way to tell which is which: burnout you feel all the time, and it seems more intense. If the overwhelm comes and goes and is related to something specific, it’s probably just stress.
It appeared a long time ago
Considering how much people work today, it’s not surprising that burnout gets so much attention. In fact, it has been around for a very long time. According to research, descriptions of burnout can be found in different times and cultures, starting with the Old Testament and the writings of Shakespeare. Scientists paid attention to this phenomenon in the middle of the 1970s, when psychiatrist Herbert Freudenberger and social psychologist Christina Maslach first studied it. Freudenberger described burnout as “a feeling of failure, exhaustion due to excessive demands on energy, strength or resources.
It consists of three senses
Burnout is composed of three feelings: exhaustion, cynicism, and lack of professional effectiveness. Exhaustion is chronic fatigue caused by excessive work load. Cynicism is a detached attitude that many people suffering from burnout begin to feel. They often completely lose interest in what they do. Lack of professional efficiency occurs when a person suffering from burnout feels bad and acts less efficiently at work, but cannot do anything about it.
Аmericans are more prone to burnout
The United States are known for rigid work ethic. People often stay in the office late every day, miss vacations, and work overtime on weekends. All of this (and more) contributes to high levels of burnout in this country.
Burnout is not only harmful emotionally. It also has physical consequences. A 2017 study found that burnout is linked to health risks, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, joint pain, fatigue, migraines, gastrointestinal and respiratory problems, and even death before the age of 45.
Extroverts burn out less
If you are an extrovert, you may not be as prone to burnout as your introvert friends. Extroverts tend to have a more positive attitude, which helps them reduce burnout in time. People who are open to communication are emotionally stable, so they are less likely to develop burnout.
Burnout is not the same as depression
Burnout and depression can cause very similar feelings, so it’s easy to confuse one with the other. However, they are not technically the same thing. They are classified as two different illnesses. Burnout has more to do with problems in the workplace.
Affects men and women differently
Some studies have shown that burnout affects men and women differently. For example, women are more likely to feel emotional exhaustion from burnout, while men are more likely to feel cynical and detached. A 2017 study found that negative life events and high demands at work caused burnout only in women. This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to experience pressure both at work and at home.
One of the best ways to get rid of emotional burnout is to stop working so much. You must learn to give up unnecessary overtime or missing vacation time. Burnout is often associated with a lack of boundaries. Many of us can’t say no, so we take on everything until we break down physically and emotionally.
It’s important to relax
Experts emphasize that learning to relax is a key way to prevent burnout. It is important to find your own methods of dealing with stress. Meditation is a common tool because it quickly leads to results. Practice meditation, go outside and turn off all gadgets. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or depression, see a mental health professional. Relaxing after work won’t help prevent burnout completely or get rid of it if you already have it. You need to find the root of the problem and fix it.
Make more time for yourself
Paying attention to yourself is another way to prevent burnout. It will help build a balance between work and personal life. Don’t answer messages after hours. Put down the phone and do something you love, something that makes you happy: go for a walk with your family, cook a meal, or read a good book. Take breaks when you need to. When you are always active, you can get to burnout faster.
Burnout can affect anyone doing any job. But some occupations are at higher risk. According to a Harvard Business Review study, nurses, doctors, social workers, teachers and managers experience emotional burnout more often than other professions. This is due to anxiety, insomnia, and physical exhaustion, which usually occur while working.
Problems at work
According to the same Harvard Business Review study, it is employers who are to blame for their employees’ feelings of burnout. In its book “Time, Talent and Energy,” the magazine noted that companies with the highest levels of burnout have three things in common: excessive control, weak time management, and a tendency to overburden the most capable employees with a large amount of work.
Technology is detrimental
Some experts believe that constant access to technology contributes to mental fatigue. While technology can be a great tool, it also causes feelings of stress, which increases the chances of fatigue. If you can never tear yourself away from checking email or reading reports, how will you ever take a real break from work?
Many people think that in order to get rid of emotional burnout you need to change something dramatically in your life. For example, quit your job or move to a new place. But it is better to start with small changes, allocate for them an hour in the morning or evening. Maybe you need to delegate work tasks. Or combine physical activity with friendly meetings.
More vacations will not necessarily get rid of emotional burnout. It’s a quick fix that doesn’t uncover the root of the problem. Vacations can be a great way to relax, but if you return to the same conditions that led to burnout, the cycle will repeat itself.
It is important to understand the reason
It is important to find out exactly what the problem is and work on it. You should start with small but significant changes in your daily life. Use gentle forms of exercise, such as yoga, walking or leisurely bike rides, instead of intense workouts. Plan your schedule with these tips in mind.
Knowing the facts about burnout will help you better understand this unpleasant phenomenon, identify it in yourself or your loved ones, and deal with its symptoms. Burnout can affect everyone, and it is better to know this enemy in person.