The Reality of Burnout

phillipjAnyone can experience a psychological condition known as burnout. This is most commonly associated with chronic types of fear and worry in life when people begin to feel helpless, hopeless and overwhelmed, usually because of situations that are out of their control.

Think of burnout as the mind’s reaction to continual mental exhaustion. Just as the muscles of the body get tired and stop working with intense or ongoing repetitive exercises, so can the mind become exhausted by constant worry and stress. Whilst we can relax the muscles and change our physical activity, is it much more challenging to stop thinking about stressful situations or to fully rest the mind.

Burnout is not just boredom, temporary stress, or sudden changes in life. It occurs over a long period of time when people feel trapped in a negative situation where they simply cannot see a way to make a change. This can occur because of health issues, caring for an aging or ill family member, financial pressure, relationship problems or even issues at school or on the job.

Signs of Burnout

Signs of burnout are often very similar to signs of depression. You may experience:

  • Inability to focus, concentrate or make decisions
  • A feeling that there are no good days anymore
  • Feeling mental and emotionally numb and disengaged
  • Difficulty in maintaining relationships
  • Isolation and withdrawal
  • Chronic physical and mental exhaustion
  • Feelings of being empty and having no motivation to make the necessary changes in life

These symptoms are pervasive and result in a change in your ability to cope, to enjoy life, and to address even small issues that arise.

The Solution to Burnout

Through counselling and support burnout can be reversed and people can learn to develop a resiliency to burnout in the future. Talking out their situation and developing effective coping mechanisms, which may include setting boundaries and learning how to say “no” to increasing demands on your time are often key elements in treatment.

Other very helpful coping strategies to treat burnout include changing lifestyles to include exercise, sleep and healthy eating combined with a priority on “me time” to rejuvenate the mind. Stress management and learning to focus on yourself and recognise early signs of burnout will also be key elements in treatment and in becoming more aware for the future.

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