What is Burnout?
Burnout refers to that state of physical or emotional exhaustion. It is a psychological term that is usually associated with work, stressful relationships, and the fulfillment of taxing roles, such as parenting and housekeeping.
A person is said to be experiencing burnout when the following general symptoms occur:
- Diminished or diminishing interest in a particular task
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Cynicism or disillusionment and lack of motivation
- Inefficacy and a general feeling of helplessness when faced with a task
- Frequent illness
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, insomnia, chest pains, nervous tics, stroke or heart attack
People who are hardworking and seriously committed to their responsibilities are often the ones who get easily affected by burnout. Doctors, law enforcers, social workers and teachers, or those who are in the service of protecting and helping others, tend to be more prone to burnout because their work is especially demanding and requires much dedication and focus. In such cases, career burnout often results when any one of these professionals is pushed too hard.
Burnout is directly caused by stress, and stress can come in many forms. A high pressure environment, working too hard, working long hours – these alone can lead to an inevitable burnout, but the process only quickens when there is no time set aside for relaxation and fun-filled activity. The quote “all work and no play…” is quite apt – and rings true – in this instance.
Even personal relationships can cause burnout. When one is in a troublesome marriage, for example, or there are psychological issues involved between a couple, this can also result in a burnout.
No one is exempted from the possibility of a burnout, and it is sometimes even considered an accessory to everyday living. But this is not to say that burnout cannot be avoided nor resolved. There are prescription drugs available to help alleviate the feelings associated with burnout, such as antidepressants, sedatives and antibiotics; however these often carry side-effects, especially with long term use.
There are natural ways to curing oneself though, and the best way so far has always been to confront the problem at its source. If the burnout is work-related, tell your manager about it – he may be able to affirm that you’re doing too much work on your own, and delegate other tasks to co-workers. If the burnout is related to the family or stems from a relationship, communicate the problem to the particular person involved, and ask for understanding and assistance.
If the problem is you – give yourself a break. Rest, or find any pleasant yet effortless activity to do. Break away from the monotony and do something different that will surely entertain you. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises and meditation. If all else fails, you can also try counseling and psychotherapy.
Natural remedies are also available in the treatment of burnout. Specially combined herbal ingredients have the effect of soothing a person’s nerves and relaxing his mind, such as Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort), Scuttelaria laterifolia (Scullcap), Passiflora incarnata and Valerian. Unlike prescription medication, they have no underlying side-effects and work even more to promote the well-being of the individual.