Guide to Overcome Burnout
Burnout is what happens when you avoid being human for too long. Now, burnout is something that we need to discuss, raise awareness of and find out what you can do to help before it’s too late.
That is today’s article in a nutshell, and I really hope this article helps you. Let’s begin with the basics: what exactly is burnout? Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion, which is caused by excessive and prolonged levels of stress. Now, the term burnout was originally coined by NASA to describe a rocket that is out of fuel. Gravitational forces mean that it’s still moving, but it are essentially useless.
We think it’s a very good analogy because there are many of us who have a stressful job and appear to be on track working as normal, yet functioning very poorly and not able to change course. Does that mean that burnout is stress? Well, not really, because stress is actually a high-energy state where everything is going. It’s caused by a lack of control. You’re having to work harder and harder to meet demand. Now, burnout, on the other hand, is a low-energy state. You’ve run out of energy to do anything, you’re going through motions and feel demotivated. Worst of all, you may even feel that your work is meaningless. We feel like we’re really starting to understand burnout a little better now.
Let’s discuss the symptoms of burnout. Burnout is characterized by three main features. The first one is exhaustion and fatigue. This is where you’re extremely tired because you’ve got prolonged levels of stress for a long period. The symptoms of this might include struggling to get out of bed or extreme lethargy. You get up and go has got up and gone. Next up, we have perceived or actual poor performance. People suffering from burnout often feel that their performance is suffering. If burnout isn’t recognized and treated, perception often becomes a reality. Lastly, we have depersonalization. This characteristically presents cynicism and a lack of empathy. So let’s say, for example, you’re a healthcare professional. This may mean that you begin to treat patients as objects. And these three features can lead to so many symptoms and signs of burnout, which include anxiety, insomnia, headaches, other physical illnesses, feeling a lack of purpose, little interest in work, and a dread of going to work among many others. So we now know what burnout is, what causes it, what symptoms to look out for. But just how bad is burnout for our bodies? Well, let’s find out well.
In burnout, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which releases Cortisol is put into turmoil.
Cortisol is one of the stress hormones released when we perceive a threat, for example, an imminent attack by a bear, or perhaps a complaint about you now in a normally functioning HPA axes. That’s what we call it for sure. Once the threat has gone, the cortisol drops off and returns to normal. However, under prolonged stress, we operate under increasing levels of Cortisol, which never returns to normal.
The body responds by eventually downregulating Cortisol production to an abnormally low level. We may experience a stage of hypercortisolism where we have literally burned out our stress response system. As we know from our endocrine patients, hypercorticolism produces lowgrade inflammation, which brings many health problems, including coronary heart disease. So understanding the physiology of what is going on makes it even more important that we understand how to treat and prevent burnout. Let’s discuss that. When it comes to managing burnout and ourselves and others, we should look into the three Rs.
Firstly, we need to recognize it early because most of us leave it way too late and it becomes a lot harder to treat. The first point is recognize it early and seek help. If you find yourself being exhausted regularly dreading going to work and you feel that your performance is slipping, then these are the kinds of signs that alarm bells should be ringing. Now the good news is there are a few tests that you can do online. They’re very easy to check for these kinds of symptoms, so I will leave a link to them in the description below for you. Please check them out.
Now moving on to the second R, which is reverse and treat. But please remember we’re all different. Certain treatments might work for you and might not work for others. But generally speaking, these are the kinds of things that you need to do. Rest, you may need to take a significant time off of work. This is okay. If you had a broken leg or you were undergoing chemotherapy, no one would expect you to be at work. You often need much longer than you originally think. Talking therapies like counseling, CBT and other therapies can help speak to a few different therapists and decide what will work for you.
Remove the stressor or at least limit your exposure to it. Look, if you’re taking time off work for burnout and then you go back to that exact same situation with the exact same demand, the same workload, the same pressure, the same stress. It’s like taking time off work because you’ve had some poison and you’ve recovered. Then you go back to work and drink the same poison again. Also seek professional help. If you think you’re suffering from burnout, make an appointment to speak to your healthcare professional about it and the final are reset your life and build.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity. It means bouncing back from difficult experiences. Now resilience and building it is quite unique for each individual. WE understand it can be very difficult to recognize and admit burnout to yourself, which is why it’s super important that you regularly check in with yourself, your friends, with your colleagues to make sure that you prevent or treat burnout before it’s too late.
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