Table of Contents
Breakthrough not Breakdown © Martyn Carruthers 2004
The Soul of our work is integrity – a joyful expression of life that brings insight and understanding. We help people untangle difficult situations and enjoy life.
What happens in Burnout?
Your body, mind and emotions can’t burn out. Physical, mental or emotional burnout imply your physical or mental fatigue or a feeling of approaching overtiredness or even collapse. Do you hide your exhaustion until you suffer a crisis. Paradoxically, weaker people don’t burn out so often – they quit before they damage themselves!
Physical, mental or emotional exhaustion may include a temporary loss of or damage to your personality. This may be seen as frustration, depression, confusion, exhaustion and / or anxiety. Burnout can be disturbing, disorienting and frightening.
I am a schoolteacher. Some of my colleagues are burned out …
once they were idealists but now they just want to retire.
Some hate their work, and some even hate children,
but they won’t lose their seniority or pensions
by trying something different. BC, Canada
Depression, confusion or anxiety often accompanies a sense of exhaustion that may last for years. Many people live in this state of exhaustion – disliking their work or their lives but too tired to change anything. You probably know people in this situation … see Identity Loss and Chronic Fatigue.
Warning Signs of Burn-Out
Do you have high responsibilities and little authority? Are you in demanding relationships where you must give and give – and you cannot receive? Your burnout potential may reflect your situation, relationships, motivations and goals. Some warning signs can alert you to a looming crisis – and your need to change.
- you feel exhausted
- you feel helpless and frustrated
- you feel depressed and isolated
- you feel disillusioned with your life
- you lose commitment to your work
- you damage or destroy relationships
- you cannot cope with your responsibilities
- you become cynical with colleagues and clients
- you feel anger and want to blame people for your state
- you increase your consumption of alcohol, food or drugs
Your article describes me and my co-workers in our human resources department.
I was so idealistic but now I am so frustrated with bungee managers
and office politics. I really want to leave, but my pay is good and
I don’t have the energy to change my career. Montreal
If you notice any of these signs, perhaps arrange peaceful talks with people you can trust. (Note: most employee-assistance programs will record your concerns, and this information may not be used to your advantage).
Stress & Emotional Burnout
Anxiety, stress and depression can occur when you hide your emotions. You may feel on the edge of a collapse when you feel that you have no choice.
You may want to react to stressful situations by either leaving the situation or fighting back. If you cannot run away or fight back, you may force yourself to stay and your stress increases. The same thing might happen at home or in your close relationships. You can change your relationships or learn to cope with stress. Avoid going from feeling overwhelmed to nervous breakdown.
The causes of burnout include health problems. To avoid these, you can eat healthier. You can exercise for a half hour at least 3 times a week. You can get appropriate sleep. You can avoid alcohol and illegal drugs. You can take vacations. You can learn how to relax. Most of all, you can build and enjoy better relationships.
Coping with fatigue and stress means learning how to communicate better. We can coach you to change destructive habits and complex relationship problems.
Who Burns Out?
Research shows three causes of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment (Maslach et. al. 2001), although some people may be chronically ill, with symptoms worsened by stress and lack of sleep.
People who burn out often seem to be either people pleasing and/or super-responsible. A People Pleaser may focus on being nice and not offending anyone. A Super-Responsible person may be seen as control-freak, perfectionist or workaholic.
I tried to transform my medical clinic into a holistic health center …
I worked endless hours for three years … I wrecked my marriage and my health …
I am the owner and founder but I could not persuade the doctors
to create my dream clinic … yes, I burned out.
Solutions for Burnout: Anxiety, Stress and Depression
Do you live to please other people? Are you disillusioned with your life? Do you only go to work for money to pay your bills? A vacation may be a temporary solution, but if you lose passion and commitment, you may become depressed.
You can do nothing – or you can change your life. Fatigue and burnout may be only temporary setbacks if you can improve your relationships and emotional reactions …
- Do NOTHING: If you do nothing about your tiredness, you may become bitter and angry as opportunities pass you by. If you feel useless, your motivation and productivity may decline and you may face dismissal.
- Change your JOB: If you change your job within your profession you can probably transfer your skills and your experience. You can re-inspire yourself and start fresh. Are you disillusioned with your boss or your colleagues? Understand what caused you to burn out, and do things differently.
- Change your CAREER: Have your values changed since entering your profession? Career change may be appropriate, although you may lose some of the benefit of your skills and experience. (If you change profession, you may find yourself competing with younger people who accept lower salaries.)
- Change your SELF: Use your fatigue and burnout as motivation … as a kick-start to re-evaluate how you want to live your life.
Let Burnout motivate Emotional Maturity
Talk to people who have experience with burnout (our coaching can help you). Identify harmful assumptions and thinking habits. Discuss with friends your circumstances, workload, actions, the actions of other people and the consequences.
The path, means and goal of our systemic coaching …
and perhaps of our lives is … maturity.
Committed people burn out! Probably you have already tried to manage your situation – but whatever you did – it didn’t work. Is it time for you to learn:
- You are not superhuman
- Not all mentoring benefits you
- Hard work does not solve all problems
- Most success includes healthy relationships
- Be skeptical when you assess new situations
- You can inspire people with a balanced, happy life
- Learn from consequences to avoid repeating mistakes
- Your commitment – no matter how intense – is not enough
- Develop your ability to recognize and communicate problems
- Too much positive thinking can have unpleasant consequences
Set your life goals and plan ways to achieve them. If your plan includes changing your job or career, do this after careful planning, rather than running away.
Contact us to develop a healthy lifestyle to avoid exhaustion, fatigue and burnout.