Posted on Hello Wellness on Nov 30 2010 7:53AM
"Now!" The boss shouts and stomps off. You blink. There was a time when you would have been on your toes, ready to do everything he asked for. Now, you don't care. You hate your job because you're overworked and underpaid. You hate your life because every day is a bad day. And you hate yourself because nothing you do makes a difference. Sounds familiar? You're on the road to burnout.
Crash and burn…
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. You feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
According to psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North, the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, which are not necessarily followed sequentially:
- A compulsion to prove oneself
- Working harder
- Neglecting one's own needs
- Displacement of conflicts (the person does not realize the root cause of the distress)
- Revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed)
- Denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent)
- Withdrawal (reducing social contacts to a minimum, becoming walled off; alcohol or other substance abuse may occur)
- Behavioral changes become obvious to others
- Depersonalization (life becomes a series of mechanical functions)
- Inner emptiness
- The Burnout syndrome characterised by loss of initiative, interest and efficiency, reduced work performance, insomnia, fatigue, frequent headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, mood swings, irritability and frustration
Who is at risk?
While upper-level executives, housewives, students, academics, entrepreneurs, employees and doctors may all be at risk of burnouts, the incidence is higher in people with perfectionistic tendencies, pessimists, control-freaks who are reluctant to delegate to others and high-achievers.
Tips to prevent a breakdown
- Relax: Rather jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend 15 minutes meditating, writing in your journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you
- Adopt: Eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest to have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s challenges
- Learn: To say “no” to requests on your time and say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do
- Disconnect: Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.
- Get creative: Resume a favorite hobby or an activity that has nothing to do with work.
- Learn: To manage stress