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Burnout ...

Burnout is severe problem affecting many occupational groups. Often presenting with physical illness (and an increased count of sick days), burnout also has an active role on an emotional level.

 

People struggling with burnout experience increased feelings of hopelessness, irritability, impatience, and poor interpersonal relationships with family / coworkers.
If left untreated, burnout can lead to diminished executive functioning, inability to concentrate and store memories.

What causes burnout?

The human stress response is meant to be a temporary reaction to danger - not a constant state of being. Our bodies are not designed to be hyper-alert for extended periods. While the nervous system can compensate for a while, after a long period of constant stress, it begins to do harm as the adrenal system fatigues. Burnout is the response to unmanaged stress directly related to work. 

 

The MayoClinic suggest the following to be possible causes of job burnout:

Lack of control. 

An inability to influence decisions that affect your job — such as your schedule, assignments or workload — could lead to job burnout. So could a lack of the resources you need to do your work.

Unclear job expectations.

 If you're unclear about the degree of authority you have or what your supervisor or others expect from you, you're not likely to feel comfortable at work.

Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. 

Perhaps you work with an office bully, or you feel undermined by colleagues or your boss micromanages your work. This can contribute to job stress.

Extremes of activity. 

When a job is monotonous or chaotic, you need constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.

Lack of social support. 

If you feel isolated at work and in your personal life, you might feel more stressed.

Work-life imbalance. 

If your work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don't have the energy to spend time with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.

How stressed are you?

Take the Perceived Stress Scale quiz and find out. 

What can you do about it?

Coupled with a belief 'if I can't do everything, I'm failing', people who are burnt out need to reflect on their relationship with work. Changing jobs rarely helps  - people who run over-responsibility will simply repeat the pattern in the new role. If you're concerned you may be burnt out, it is important to recalibrate your boundaries and negotiate a more balanced way to invest your energy. 

How do you recover?

Slowly. Burnout isn't something you can 'bounce back' from, or gloss over with a relaxing weekend away. By the time people recognise they are burnout, their adrenal stores are shot, gut health is upside down and their emotional reserves are depleted. It is crucial to seek support and put your health as your top priority while you recover. 

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