In our time, society has accelerated markedly, and now “being strong, hyperactive, hyperproductive, and successful” has become the slogan of the 21st century. People strive for a better life, secured by benefits and social status, striving for career advancement. But what is the downside of such an intense energy investment in one’s success?
Emotional burnout syndrome is characterized by:
- A general feeling of exhaustion or drained energy.
- Mental avoidance of work, increasing distance or cynicism concerning one’s professional activity.
- Sense of inefficiency and lack of achievements.
Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the professional context and shouldn’t be applied to describe experiences in other spheres of life. If you notice similar symptoms in yourself or your relatives not only in the professional sphere, it’s an urgent reason to see a doctor to exclude depression.
So Why Does It Occur?
Burnout is the body’s response to prolonged stress. Our psyche protects itself from excessive emotional and/or physical stress by “desensitizing”, which sometimes reaches the point of numbness, detachment, and sarcastic ridicule. Such a person becomes suddenly rigid, sometimes irritable, and sometimes as if “dead”. He ceases to be interested in his work and doesn’t get pleasure from achieving professional goals. Many emotions are devalued or denied, and the person loses empathy. There is a “prospect” of serious cognitive disorders in the neglected version.
y thought of work can cause dislike, anxiety, disgust, and in the latest “stages” – passive detachment, apathy, and indifference. It becomes difficult to get up in the morning: the body instantly reacts to stress and tries to “get rid” of the irritant. Headaches, nausea, or just a feeling of great fatigue, or heaviness in the muscles begin. A person prefers betting on a sportsbook online or watching YouTube instead of completing tasks at work.
Emotional burnout syndrome does not come in one day – it’s gradual. Such a person the beginning may not lose productivity and efficiency: he also performs his duties well, even qualitatively, but when talking to him a feeling of heaviness or dislike is formed inside, if the person, for example, is coldly sarcastic. A persistent impression is formed that this person is either unpleasant or pointless to do his job.
And if the situation isn’t regulated in any way either by the person himself or his superiors or close environment, then the outcome is usually always deplorable: from the general emotional state to the performance of his professional duties. Then the person really stops doing their job well: either because they are simply not interested, or because of deterioration of cognitive functions (memory, attention, concentration, thinking). The text in front of your eyes may begin to “float,” lines have to be reread several times because you forget what was written at the beginning or simply get distracted, falling into a “lingering thought void,” the professional community is irritating or doesn’t “care,” leaving you indifferent.
If such a worker is in the “human-to-human” professional sphere, one notices a significant decrease in empathy, abruptness and coldness, and indifference to clients or patients. At the sight of someone else’s grief, tears, loss, there is no sympathy or participation inside.
Over time, such an employee ceases to be valuable as an employee, and “alive” as a person.
To begin with, ask the person (if you have noticed symptoms other than yourself) if he is ready to talk to you and, if necessary, accept some help. “Saving the drowning man is a matter of the drowning man himself,” and if the person categorically refuses to make contact, then we can only wait or just be there for him.
Ask about the general condition and well-being. How long has the deterioration been present? Does it only affect the work area or does it last for life? Has he/she talked to anyone about it?
If you notice it in yourself:
- Adjust your daily routine. A simple rule, but difficult in action, because you need to monitor the amount of food you eat, hours of sleep (it’s important to get enough sleep, because this directly affects whether the energy reserve is replenished naturally, as well as metabolism and overall desire to live), the ratio “work-other life”, if the latter is strongly dominated by work, then it is necessary to review your schedule and to remember the existence of family, friends, entertainment and recreation.
- Ask yourself questions: “When was the last time I rested? Laughing? Did I feel happy? Am I resting enough at all?”
- Seek help from a therapist. Often such people tend to underestimate their condition and call their burnout “laziness.” This is a big mistake. Burnout isn’t laziness, it’s an adaptation (though not the most effective) of the psyche due to prolonged stress, and this problem can and should be addressed. Comments along the lines of “get a grip,” “get some sleep,” or “read a motivational book” will not solve the problem. Rather, they will drive the person into even more irritation, depression or the feeling that “there is something wrong with me, I am something wrong,” which can cause low self-esteem, unwillingness to contact people and social isolation, in which the person becomes “poor,” “flat” and doesn’t feel needed, fulfilled.
What Personalities Are More Vulnerable to Emotional Burnout?
Actually, any person can burn out, but there are several features of personality organizations, characters that, for example, make a person more successful in one aspect of life, but in another, more vulnerable.
Sensitivity. There is, and never has been, anything “bad” or shameful about sensitivity. But people who take everything “personally” are more likely to be at risk: they are passionately, deeply invested in what they do, and their energy potential is not eternal or rubbery. Everyone needs peace, rest, support, sometimes treatment, and “proportionality.
Perfectionism. Or simply “highly responsible.” Such people turn out to be valuable employees, due to their aspiration to do everything “to the highest standard,” but the high demands imposed by both society and the individual himself or herself can lead to exhaustion and, as a result, to burnout.
Anxiety. Moderate anxiety stimulates us to “move.” But if a person is constantly nervous about the quality of his work, professional competence, etc., then stress becomes “super intense” and the only way to survive what is going on is to reduce the value and involvement in work.
Anyone can “overeat” even interesting and engaging things. It’s strange, it seems counterintuitive and it’s rarely talked about, but you can really get satiated and tired of what seems deeply appealing.