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Are you feeling exhausted, hating your job, and feeling less capable at work? You may be experiencing "burnout". Herbert Freudenberger coined this term in his 1974 book Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. He defined burnout as, "the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one's devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results." Simply put, burnout is a state of chronic stress that can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, as well as feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Burnout in the workplace is real but learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms can help you prevent it from taking over your life.
Burnout doesn't just happen overnight. Its nature is much more cunning, creeping up on you like a snake in the grass and although burnout isn't a diagnosable psychological disorder, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously. However, the good news is that your body and mind give you warning signs and if you know what to look for, you can prevent it from the insidious attack of burnout.
Chronic Fatigue: You may begin feeling a lack of energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you begin to feel drained emotionally and typically begin to dread facing the day.
Forgetfulness And Impaired Concentration: You may start to experience mild forgetfulness and lack of concentration. Later, the problems may begin to pile up on you and you can't get your work done at work or home.
Anxiety: At first, you may begin to experience some tension and irritability, but later on the irritability may turn into angry outbursts and arguments at home and in your workplace.
Pessimism: This can present itself in a number of ways through negative self-talk, and having a dreadful attitude to an all-around disdain for yourself and those around you. You may experience thoughts that you can't count on anyone and this can lead to trust issues with coworkers and family.
Isolation: To begin with, you may have mild resistance to socializing but later on it can develop into full-blown avoidance such as coming to work early and leaving late to circumvent interactions with others.
Detachment: Detachment is a sense of feeling disconnected from others and your environment. You will tend to remove yourself emotionally and physically from responsibilities such as calling in sick, stop returning calls or coming in late to work.
Burnout is a slick thief that robs society of its best and brightest by taking their passion, their energy, and their eagerness and leaving them with weariness, frustration, and setback. The good news is burnout is not the end of the road. Once attended to, it can lead you to rediscover your passion and have a new sense of awareness. If you become a victim of burnout, below are a few tips you can use to ignite that fire.
You are a force to be reckoned with, a high achiever and a human. Go easy on yourself sometimes and know this, if you tackle burnout the way you tackle other challenges life throws your way, you will no doubt succeed. It's in your DNA!
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