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Having High Risk of Burn Out 30/04/2012


I came accross an article that surprisingly fitted the definition of what I’ve been suffering for more than two years, “Burn Out”. Even though I met almost all of the symptoms, to be much certain, I took the Burnout Self-Test to define whether what I’ve been experiencing is really the case. The result turned out I have high risk of burn out, just like I predicted.
Burn Out is a psychological term, similar to stress but take a much longer period.
For more information about Burn Out, here it is what I take from Mindtools Newsletter.

 

    What is Burnout?

Two important definitions of burnout are:
A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson.
A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J. Freudenberger.

Between them, these definitions embrace the essence of burnout, with the first stressing the part that exhaustion plays in it, and the second focusing on the sense of disillusionment that is at its core.

Anyone can become exhausted. What is so poignant about burnout is that it mainly strikes people who are highly committed to their work: You can only “burn out” if you have been “alight” in the first place. While exhaustion can be overcome with rest, a core part of burnout is a deep sense of disillusionment, and it is not experienced by people who can take a more cynical view of their work.

Specific symptoms of burnout include:
• Having lost a previously strong and enthusiastic attitude to work.
• Having a negative and critical attitude to it.
• Having low energy, and little interest in what you do.
• Having trouble sleeping.
• Being absent from work a lot.
• Having feelings of emptiness.
• Experiencing physical complaints such as headaches, illness, or backache.
• Being irritated easily by team members or clients.
• Having thoughts that your work doesn’t have meaning or make a difference.
• Pulling away emotionally from your colleagues or clients.
• Feeling that your work and contribution goes unrecognized.
• Thinking of quitting work, or changing roles.

    Stress and Burnout

So, what’s the difference between stress and burnout? Although the two share some characteristics, there are distinct differences.

Stress is often relatively short-term, and it is often caused by a feeling that work is out of control. You might experience stress several days in a row, especially when you’re working on a large project or are under a tight deadline.

However, once the situation changes, stress often lessens or disappears entirely. (Stress can affect you over the longer-term, however, if you’re consistently experiencing these things.)

Burnout often takes place over a longer period. You might experience it if you lose belief in the meaning of your work; when there’s a disconnect between what you’re currently doing and what you truly want to be doing; or when things change for the worse – for example, when you lose a supportive boss, or when your workload increases beyond a sustainable point. You go through “the motions” instead of being truly engaged. Over time, this leads to cynicism, exhaustion, and, often, diminished performance.

    Causes of Burnout

People experience burnout for a variety of reasons.

Lack of autonomy is a common cause, so you might experience burnout if you don’t have much control over your work, or if you feel that you never have enough time to finish tasks and projects.

Another common cause is when your values don’t align with the actions, behaviors, or values of your organization, or of your role.

Other causes include:
• Having unclear goals or job expectations.
• Working in a dysfunctional team or organization.
• Experiencing an excessive workload.
• Having little or no support from your boss or organization.
• Lacking recognition for your work.
• Having monotonous or low-stimulation work.

If you suspect you might be experiencing burnout, take our Burnout Self-Test.

    Consequences of Burnout

Clearly, the consequences of burnout can be severe. Your productivity can drop dramatically; and this not only impacts your career, but it negatively impacts your team and organization as well. Your creativity will also be affected, so you’re less likely to spot opportunities (and you don’t have the interest or desire to act on them), and you may find excuses to miss work or take days off sick.

Career burnout can also spill over into your personal life, negatively impacting your well-being and your relationships with friends and family.

    Key Points

Burnout is a mixture of exhaustion, and disillusionment with other people, the organization, or the career, over the long term.

Symptoms of burnout include low energy, a loss of interest in your work, and irritability with colleagues or team members. As such, it can cause low productivity, high absenteeism, low creativity, and even health problems.

To avoid burnout, follow these tips:
• Work with purpose.
• Perform a job analysis, and eliminate or delegate unnecessary work.
• Give to others.
• Take control, and actively manage your time.
• Get more exercise.
• Learn how to manage stress.
Remember, if stress and burnout are causing you to worry about your health, seek the advice of an appropriate health professional.

 

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