Job Burnout

The term "burnout" is used to define a condition of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion that is the result of protracted and extreme stress. It occurs when there is constant pressure placed on the individual to meet demands and deadlines that are too difficult for that person. As the stress mounts, it can overwhelm the person and give rise to a desire to throw in the towel. The resultant feelings of worthlessness, helplessness and loss of interest can eventually lead to a reduction in productivity or even the loss of the job. The person begins to have feelings of hopelessness, resentfulness and cynicism. If left unchecked, job burnout can not only threaten employment but can harm relationships and health.

People who suffer from job burnout, however, can be helped. Once the symptoms and signs of burnout are recognized, stress management approaches may be enough to help solve the problem. Help may also be needed in areas of time management and the reassessing of priorities.

There are telltale signs to know when job burnout is in the offing.

• Caring about home life or work seems like a waste of time.

• There is a constant feeling of exhaustion.

• Every day feels like a bad day.

• The entire day is spent on chores that are overwhelming.

The effects of burnout are not limited to the job area, but can affect the home and social life and can cause changes to the body and make one susceptible to illness such as flu or colds.

There is a simple rule in dealing with burnout, known as the three R approach:

Recognize -- Be cognizant of the warning signs that lead to burnout;

Reverse -- Get help and support to undo the damage that burnout has caused;

Resilience -- Deal with the physical and emotional health problems, which will rebuild resilience to tolerate stress.

There are a number of do-it-yourself remedies for dealing with stress and burnout that can show one how to relax and rebuild health. Exercising is a first step. Walking or jogging in any pleasant surrounding such as near lakes, in the woods, hills or mountains, is helpful. While exercising, make sure the mind is empty of worries so that it can enjoy the surroundings. Deep breathing is another effective way of relaxing. The lungs should be filled up with air and held for up to 20 seconds before exhaling. Doing this three or four times consecutively will make the heart rate has slow down. Spending time with friends or loved ones while engaging in stimulating conversation aids with relaxation as well.

Someone suffering from job burnout should consider changing jobs. Feelings of being stuck in the rut can easily lead to burnout. This may not be an easy solution to the problem, but it is an important one to consider especially when working for a company that is non-appreciative and is not sympathetic to the problem.

It is important to learn how to say "no." Many people would like to have it all -- work, home, family, business and community. All these demands of life can get to be too much for an individual to handle. Many people try to be a super-worker, super-dad or super-mom. Learning to prioritize is very important in fighting burnout.

Burnout is not to be confused with stress. Stress is about "too much" -- too much pressure, too much demand -- whether psychological or physical. People who suffer from stress always believe that once everything is under control, they will feel better.

On the other hand, burnout is concerned with "not enough." Burnout is the feeling of emptiness, lacking motivation and caring. People who experience burnout see absolutely no hope of any change for the better in their condition. They experience a feeling of being dried up. Another difference between stress and burnout is that people under stress usually realize it, whereas those suffering from burnout seldom have that recognition.

Job Burnout: Selected full-text books and articles

Handbook of Health Psychology By Andrew Baum; Tracey A. Revenson; Jerome E. Singer Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 23 "Burnout and Health"
Crisis Intervention: Theory and Methodology By Donna C. Aguilera Mosby, 1998 (8th edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 12 "Burnout Syndrome"
New Systemic Ideas from the Italian Mental Health Movement By Laura Fruggeri; Anna Castellucci; Maurizio Marzari; Massimo Matteini; Luigi Boscolo; Gianfranco Cecchin; David Campbell; Ros Draper Karnac, 1991
Librarian's tip: Chap. One "Burnout as Social Process: A Research Study"
Counseling and Psychotherapy of Work Dysfunctions By Rodney L. Lowman American Psychological Association, 1993
Librarian's tip: "Job and Occupational Burnout" begins on p. 123
Understanding Athlete Burnout: Coach Perspectives By Raedeke, Thomas D.; Lunney, Kevin; Venables, Kirk Journal of Sport Behavior, Vol. 25, No. 2, June 2002
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Power Performance for Singers: Transcending the Barriers By Shirlee Emmons; Alma Thomas Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 21 "Staleness and Burnout in Performers"
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