- Prescription for Burnout
- What to do if You're Burned Out
- Other Solutions to the Problem of Burnout
According to New York psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger, PhD.,
who coined the term, burned is a state of fatigue or frustration
brought about by a devotion to a cause, a way of life, or a
relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.
Burnout is a problem born of good intentions, because it happens when
people try to reach unrealistic goals and end up depleting their
energy and losing touch with themselves and others.
The onset is slow. The early sumptoms include a feeling of emotional
and physical exhaustion; a sense of alienation, cynicism, impatience,
negativism and feelings of detachment to the point that the
individual begins to resent work involved and the people who are a
part of that work. In extreme cases, the individual who once cared
very deeply about a project or a group will insulate himself to the
point that he no longer cares at all.
The irony of burnout is that it happens to the same person who
previously was enthusiastic and brimming over with energy and new
ideas when first involved in a job or a new situation.
This type of person generally has a very high expectation of what
can be accomplished. As time goes by and all of the goals aren't
achieved, the enthusiasm dies and a sort of listlessness sets in.
Instead of lowering objectives or accepting reality, frustration is
bottled up and the individual tries even harder. The result is
Three things are associated with burnout:
Most experts agree that when you recognize burnout, you have to ask yourself
some questions. Try to remember when it was that you began feeling so tired
and unable to relax. Were you always under such pressure to succeed?
When did this one area of your life become disproportionately important?
At what point did you lose your sense of humor and the personal side of your
relationships with friends and co-workers? Are you identifying so closely
with your responsibilities that you've come to believe that if this project
falls apart you have failed? The answers to these questions will help you
re-establish your values and priorities.
- role conflict: A person who has conflicting
responsibilities will begin to feel pulled in many
directions and will try to do everything equally well
without setting priorities. The result will be the
feelings of fatigue or exhaustion associated with
- role ambiguity: The individual does not know what
is expected of her. She knows she is expected to be a
good career person but is not quite sure how to accomplish
this because she has no role model or guidelines to follow.
The result is that she never feels that she has accomplished
- role overload: The individual can't say no and keeps on
taking on more responsibility than he can handle until he
finally burns out.
The next step ist to make some changes in your life. When your work begins
to lose its appeal, it's time for a change or to have your duties changed,
or maybe it's time to take a break.
- Establish some long and short term goals that are realistic. Write them
- If you have been neglecting your health, change your eating habits and
begin to exercise more.
- Set aside some time each day for relaxation exercises and allow yourself
time to "just let it happen".
- Renew your friendships with other people. Talk to them about your
feelings. Don't keep your frustrations and anger bottled up.
- Analyze how you spend your time. Try to incorporate some time management
techniques into your life.
- Learn to say no when you're asked to do more than you can handle.
- Learn to delegate responsibility to others. You are not indispensable.
- Find the sense of humor you've probably lost. Learn to laugh at yourself
and at the situation.
- Most of all, get in touch with yourself, your values and what you want
out of life. Learn to recognize when you are driving yourself too hard and
when you are depleting your inner resources.