July 22, 2024
Overwork Squared: What Is Burnout, How to Recognize It and Overcome It?

Overwork Squared: What Is Burnout, How to Recognize It and Overcome It?

Oct 11, 2023

Lately, there has been more and more talk about professional burnout. But what is it really? How to recognize it and distinguish it from ordinary fatigue or depression? 

What Causes Burnout?

Essentially, burnout is overwork, that is, a state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. Burnout occurs when a person gives away a huge amount of energy for a long time without having time to replenish it.

Why Has There Been So Much Talk About Burnout In the Last Few Years?

Firstly, because in recent years the psychological literacy of people has been growing rapidly. That is, we simply know that burnout exists and can determine when it occurs. Secondly, the features of the time in which we live – a large information load, high speeds, etc. – greatly increase the risk of burnout.

Have People Started to Suffer from It More Often?

I would like to say that it seems yes. But we can’t actually measure this objectively. People have burned out before: think, for example, of school teachers who became so burned out that they began to hate both their jobs and their children. Most of us have probably met someone like this.

Is Burnout Always Related to Work?

Burnout can be associated with different types of activities—primarily those that require emotional labor. For example, there is the phenomenon of parental burnout – this is the physical and mental exhaustion that occurs in parents. You can burn out from endless attempts to be perfect, and from taking on excessive responsibility, and this applies not only to work, but also to any other areas of life.

What Factors Increase the Risk of Burnout?

The risk of burnout is different for everyone, and it depends on a large number of factors. There are professions in which people burn out faster. This risk group includes those who work directly with people, and especially with other people’s difficulties. These are, of course, doctors (their sarcasm, and sometimes even rudeness, is a psychological defense, an attempt to preserve oneself), teachers, psychologists, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and so on. Those who work in the service sector and have direct contact with clients are also at risk.

In addition to working with people, external factors that contribute to burnout include the following:

  • great responsibility;
  • a feeling of futility of one’s efforts;
  • work in emergency mode;
  • monotonous work;
  • lack of encouragement from management;
  • conflict team;
  • real or perceived lack of control over what is happening;
  • constantly changing requirements.

Internal factors of burnout, that is, character traits, also matter. Perfectionists and hyper-responsible people burn out more often and more than others; those who are very afraid of letting the team down. People who find it difficult to delegate tasks and/or say no to others often get burned out. And of course, those who simply don’t like work, who find themselves in the wrong place.

Regarding timing, there is an opinion that burnout most often occurs every three, five, seven, ten years. But it is very difficult to predict this accurately, since its occurrence depends on many external and internal factors.

What are the main signs of burnout? How to distinguish it from depression or ordinary fatigue?

In short, symptoms of burnout include:

  • a feeling of helplessness, a feeling of being at a dead end;
  • decreased motivation and productivity. What was once easy now seems almost impossible. But there is no interest at all;
  • a feeling of vague but chronic dissatisfaction, as if there was nothing left to say to the world;
  • feeling of fatigue, decreased immunity, sleep and appetite disturbances (and in any direction);
  • it seems that everything has become useless, gray, and has lost its meaning;
  • desire to withdraw, run away, leave work;
  • the feeling that everything is bad, how to get out of it is unclear, and where to get strength from is generally a mystery.

If we look at the question in a little more detail, we can say that the symptoms of burnout are divided into four groups: physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral.

Distinguishing burnout from fatigue is quite simple. Fatigue is a temporary tiredness that goes away if you rest in the evening, eat well and sleep. Burnout is a much more persistent condition when you’ve eaten and slept, but it still doesn’t get better.

But depression can be confused with burnout, especially if it’s advanced. Moreover, sometimes it happens that burnout provokes a depressive episode. The most important thing to pay attention to here is persistent sleep and appetite disturbances. If they exist and last more than two weeks, this may indicate depression, and in this case you should definitely seek help.

Can Burnout Be Prevented?

The best thing you can do is learn to hear yourself and your needs before the body. You can be Superman, but not for long. At some point, you will have to give up the feeling of being indispensable and needed and learn to take care not only of work or other people, but also of yourself.

Prevention is the ability to recover before you break down and maintain a “work-rest” regime. That is, once every six months, go on vacation for two weeks (vacation is when you have nothing to do with work at all, do not respond to any letters or messages), do not stay late at work, read fiction (and not just “useful”) and so on.

Finding ways to relax is key. Playing online games is a good way to relax your nerves. Gambling is a good way too. Try the best bookmaker online casino to get less nervous.

What to Do If You Are Already Experiencing Burnout?

No amount of motivational techniques will help if you are physically exhausted. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is take a vacation (or at least improve your sleep and nutrition). You can save others only with a charged battery.

At the same time, efforts must be directed towards REAL steps to bring oneself out of burnout, that is, to eliminate those factors that provoke it. It’s worth asking yourself: what did you do to improve your condition this week? They didn’t think about what needed to be done, but rather did something.

Look for specific reasons, break them down into parts and gradually eliminate them. Do you have a colleague who makes you feel worse after talking to him? Find a way to contact him less often or in a way that is safer for you (for example, through text rather than in person). Is there a particular part of the job that makes you mad? Figure out how to delegate or automate it.

And be sure to respect the boundaries of work and rest. Working hours over? This means that you should not respond to any messages – all tomorrow or on Monday.

Another important point is to check the ratio of active and passive rest. Active rest is when we get vivid impressions, and passive rest is when we relax, act according to our mood and are not in a hurry. If a person is only active (or only passive) during rest, such rest will be ineffective. Only the right combination of different types of rest – the right one for you – will help you restore your strength as much as possible.