Burnout – recognising & rectifying

Burnout is a syndrome which occurs due to prolonged emotional strain of dealing extensively with other human beings, particularly in helper and recipient relationships.

Burnout is often classified as a type of stress. However, the origin of stress and long-term outcomes are very different. The table below outlines these differences:

Stress – characterised by Burnout – characterised by

Over-engagement Disengagement

Overactive emotions Helplessness and hoplessness

Exhausted physical energy Depleted motivation, drive, ideals and hope

Leads to anxiety disorders Leads to paranoia, detachment and depression

Causes disintegration Causes demoralisation

Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional

The typical response from sufferers of burnout is: “This job has always been stressful, but why am I having trouble now the job can’t be the reason. So it must be down to me.”

There are many symptoms of burnout the following are just some:

  • High resistance to going to work.

  • A sense of failure

  • Anger and resentment

  • Isolation and withdrawal

  • Feeling tired and exhausted

  • Loss of positive feelings towards clients

  • Sleep disorders

  • Avoiding discussion of work with colleagues

  • Self-preoccupation & blaming others

  • Frequent illness

  • Marital and family conflict

  • High absenteeism

If one gram of prevention is worth a kilo of cure, then the best way to beat burnout is to keep it from happening. Below are some self-care strategies:

  • Keep expectations realistic.

  • Reduce your workload.

  • Take allocated lunch breaks.

  • Consider a career break.

  • Develop and maintain interests outside of work.

  • Use your full holiday entitlement.

  • Recognise your own response to work place issues.

  • Seek skill-based counselling for mood management and support.

Source: Mental Health Academy


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