Have you ever heard of burnout? It is a physical and mental exhaustion, normally resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. What are the symptoms and what can we do to solve it?
Burnout is the result of stress which lasts for a long time, leading to emotional and physical exhaustion, when there are a very stressful work style and difficult relationships with people, which could include the family.
The people who suffer most from this type of exhaustion are those who practice a profession where they are required to involve with people on a frequent and very close basis. They are service providers, especially caregivers and teachers, because their work involves many emotionally stressful situations. Burnout syndrome is manifested by emotional exhaustion, decreased personal fulfillment at work and lack of a human atmosphere. Let’s see how that works.
Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout is a response to various stressors. Its symptoms are telling the person: stop. Re-evaluate your lifestyle. Review and change the way you deal with people. Take it easy on yourself. Put a limit on the abusive people you have to live with, or stay away from them. The person with burnout is not a weak individual. The demands from outside, and often from within themselves, are in general too much for any human being to deal with.
Do you know what symptoms a person with burnout syndrome has? I will mention the physical and mental symptoms. Among the main ones are physical symptoms: constant progressive tiredness, muscle pain, headache, gastrointestinal disorders, insomnia, repeated infections due to low immunity, cardiovascular disorders such as palpitation, high blood pressure, sexual impairments such as premature ejaculation, disinterest or frigidity, bone pain, menstrual disorders, migraine, asthma attack and others.
Mental symptoms of burnout syndrome include difficulty of thinking quickly, feelings of loneliness, helplessness, impaired short term memory, decreased attention and concentration, irritability, emotional lability, like crying easily, loss of self-respect and self-worth, depression, difficulty to relax, impatience, sudden change of mood, abuse of substances such as alcohol or prescription drugs, loss of interest in work, absences from work and others.
Many people who develop burnout feel compelled to succeed and perform well and experience demands that are too strong to compete with. They may have an ambition that may be linked to dysfunctional, that is, unhealthy psychological needs. It is easy to disguise the unhealthy obsessive ambition for professional and economic success in life through hard work that everyone applauds, that is, people do not criticize those who work too much, the employee is always praised, but it can be a compulsive worker and end up developing exhaustion, and behind a compulsion, there is always a history of emotional pain and spiritual conflict.
Exhaustion can arise from exaggerated profound ambition, or desperate need to be approved, thinking that our work is not adequate, a need to feel that we are in control all the time, or any behavior, desire or motivation that dominates us in an uncontrollable way.
Consequences of Burnout
What are the main consequences of this exhaustion called burnout in a person’s life? Loss of physical strength to work, stress in the family, which can cause discontent in the children, who may start to see the work of the father or mother in a negative way and revolt, difficulties in marriage because the husband or wife meets the demands of their work and leaves the affections of married life aside. In this case the person must learn to put limits on abusive work requirements and their own exaggerated desire to get involved with things outside the home.
There are many who develop depression in response to exhaustion. Depression is a sign that there are losses. There is helplessness that is not being respected, perhaps by the person himself, in which case there is a need to regret, to cry, to ask for support from someone who can hear or understand, or accept him in his pain, in his struggle and in his emotional fatigue.
The other consequence of burnout is the loss of motivation due to pressure at work, pressure from the boss who sucks too much, generating stress, exhaustion, and everyone is harmed. The person is asking for sick leave, the production falls, but the costs are the same. Do you exploit your employees? Do you pay overtime and allow for an hour bank? Do you give vacations according to the law? Do you pay fair wages? Are you honest as an employee, and with a co-worker? Do you involve yourself in the company? Do you do your best, are you proactive? Good qualities in bosses and employees prevent burnout at work.
Several scientists studying this syndrome cite that to prevent burnout it is important to take some actions, such as:
- prevent the employee from feeling coerced, pressured by strict rules and policies.
- to prevent workers with young children in school age from being frequently transferred from the city, so as not to cut the affective bonds, the friend, school, neighbors, creating stress in the family, the father, the mother, and the children.
- to encourage individuals by showing them that their work is very important, whatever it is, and that it cannot, it does not need to be quantified by numbers, and that the goals are secondary.
- promote human values in the workplace, remembering that people are more important than things, than goals, than reports.
Each employee must think that his value as a person is given by God, that there may not be a positive return of kind words from colleagues and bosses, not because my work done is not good, but because that company or that institution may have a predominance of demanding, legalistic, cruel and jealous people. And another thing, you need to have friends, at least one with whom you confide your personal problems. To prevent burnout, you need to become responsible for your health, avoid developing burnout by placing limits on the exaggerated and unfair demands of others, without fear of being criticized. Because your conscience will be calm, remembering that there will be unpleasant critics.
The leader of an employee who is experiencing burnout can assist his team member with empathy, understanding, offering personal and institutional help, without paternalism, but with compassion. I want to leave a biblical thought for your reflection:
Do not be overly righteous,Ecclesiastes 7:16
Nor be overly wise:
Why should you destroy yourself?
Peace and light, don’t be cruel to your employee, and don’t be cruel to yourself.
Do you need a guide to help you understand how to cope with Stress in an all inclusive approach? Learn how to combat stress, mentally, physically, emotionally and strategically in your life.
Dr. Cesar Vasconcellos de Souza is working as a psychiatrist and international speaker. He is author of 3 books, columnist of the health magazine “Vida e Saúde” for 25 years, and has a regular program on the “Novo Tempo” TV channel.