Modern people may not be fighting lions and tigers, but we are under more stress than ever. From job-related stress to long commutes to balancing the demands of family and personal life, many just have too much on their plate. According to many psychologists, this is leading to a disorder known as burn out, which can have dire consequences for psychological health, physical health and even career success. However, there are natural ways to prevent getting burned out and to restore our emotional and physical balance.
What Is Burnout?
Most people have experienced burn out to some degree, either in themselves or in coworkers. You begin to take less pride in your work and express cynical attitudes. Some people begin to depersonalize others, caring less about the person's feelings and acting without consideration. Although everyone feels burned out at times, it is merely a short phase for most of us.
However, some people deal with it at toxic levels. The results are easily recognized. People who are burned out feel physically and emotionally exhausted, similar to depression. They have reduced feelings of accomplishment and often suffer from symptoms of depression, such as low mood and difficulty sleeping. They also become disengaged, showing less care for their work and more apathy toward their professional and personal commitments.
A Modern Occupational Hazard
The causes of burn out are diverse, but it usually stems from one main factor: occupational stress. The disorder was first identified by a psychologist who observed the effects in staff and volunteers at a clinic for drug addicts. Other professionals have noticed it in teachers, social workers and health professionals. A variety of jobs can cause workers to become burned out, but they all have one key factor in common: long-term stress that cannot be resolved. Unfortunately, this is extremely common in many modern careers.
According to research, physicians are particularly at risk of becoming burned out. Modern doctors often face chaotic environments along with high levels of responsibility over outcomes that they cannot entirely control. They increasingly are saddled with growing amounts of documentation as well as nearly unbearable student loan debt. When you combine these factors with long work hours that can prevent recharging, it is not surprising that up to 75 percent of physicians and medical residents are burned out. However, this trend is not limited to medicine. Many jobs present similar stresses to varying degrees, with similar results. The lack of time to recharge appears to be particularly important. Believe it or not, it is likely that many people are suffering from the symptoms of this disorder without even realizing it.
Burnout Warning Signs to Watch For
Are you suffering from burnout? Here are a few of the warning signs of this common disorder:
- physical fatigue
- a feeling of cynicism and pessimism
- disengagement from issues and activities that were once engaging
- a sense of ineffectiveness, that nothing you do will make a difference
- taking less pride in one's work
- acting rude or uncaring to coworkers and loved ones
- insomnia and other sleep disorders
- difficulty concentrating
- getting sick more often than usual
- vague physical symptoms such as stomach aches and head aches
- negative emotions such as anger, depression and anxiety
- poor performance and/or low productivity
If these symptoms begin interfering with one's daily life, it is important to take action quickly. There are natural, healthy ways of treating burn out and restoring both pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Keeping Your Stress Levels Low, Naturally
Are you or a loved one at risk of becoming burned out? There are several things you can do to maintain work-life balance. First and most importantly, avoid the modern trend of incorporating work into your daily life. Although modern jobs encourage 24/7 availability, activities such as checking emails at home can increase burn out by keeping people from having the space to recharge. This may be the number one factor in burning workers out.
Second, it is important to take good care of oneself. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep at night. Take time to exercise and spend time with loved ones. Consider taking up new hobbies that help you unwind, whether yoga or skydiving. Last, make sure your body has the nutrients that it needs to work well even under pressure. Your body needs a wide range of vitamins, amino acids, and other building blocks to keep up with your lifestyle. B vitamins, for example, help your body to continue producing energy even under stress. Glutathione is important for producing mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
Stressful jobs are often the most rewarding. However, it is important to maintain good health and avoid becoming burned out. Taking good care of your psychological and physiological health will ensure that you can continue feeling rewarded and engaged with your career for a lifetime.