Burnout, what is it? and how do you recognize it? What are the signs that we should not underestimate to avoid work stress.Burnout , or the feeling of exhaustion that can affect people who work and which is also capable of causing psychophysical and emotional wear. How do you recognize it? Reduced productivity, tendency to evaluate people as objects and feeling of loss of value of one’s business. There is talk of a real syndrome. But what does burnout consist of and can it be cured?
Appeared for the first time in the sports world around the 30s to indicate the inability of an athlete to continue to have good results, the term ” burnout ” only later indicated, in the States of the 70s, a condition of extreme exhaustion which concerned certain professions, the so-called ” helpingh professions “, such as nurses, doctors, firefighters or psychiatrists.
The term was then taken up by the American psychiatrist C. Maslach in 1976 to indicate a “behavioral pathology” affecting some professions characterized by a high relational implication. Then burnout was defined as:
“Emotional exhaustion syndrome, depersonalization and reduction of personal abilities that can occur in people who professionally take care of people” and “reaction to the chronic emotional tension of continuous contact with human beings, especially when they have problems or reasons for suffering“.
What is Burnout
Or rather burn-Out , that is, ” burned , burst, melted”, that feeling that can be had when one has it all over one’s hair and has reached a hard emotional and chronic stress.
It concerns, therefore, mostly the professional sphere and it is the pathological result of a long process that affects people who practice helping professions (such as nurses or policemen), but also those who feel crushed, frustrated or make sense of rejection towards one’s work.
Characterized by a progressive decline in psychophysical resources and by a worsening of professional performance , burnout syndrome is more likely to develop in situations of strong gap between the nature of the job and the nature of the person who does it. If, for example, a working context requires strong dedication and large commitments, this can also result in a refusal to the detriment of working obligations. When success or a certain goal are difficult to achieve, many people lose their dedication to that job and fall short.
How it manifests itself
It is always Maslach who explains that the burn-out events can be grouped into three bands:
- Emotional exhaustion
The feeling of being emotionally emptied and canceled from one’s work, but also of social relationships, demotivation, difficulty concentrating and feeling guilty
Describes that attitude of estrangement and refusal towards those who request or receive professional services, services or care
- Reduced personal achievement
Concerns the perception of one’s inadequacy to work, the fall of self-esteem and the feeling of failure in one’s work
Burnout syndrome, symptoms
Unlike stress and neurosis, in the case of burnout there is no disturbance of the personality but of the working role. There may be many symptoms, but all of them can be traced back to anxiety-depressive spectrum disorders and underline the tendency of subjects to somatization and development of behavioral disorders.
Malaise at the thought of work, loss of emotional involvement, decreased self-esteem or insomnia are just some of the signs with which burnout takes shape. But, specifically, the symptoms can be distinguished into behavioral, physical and psychic.
- absenteeism or high resistance to going to work every day
- isolation and withdrawal
- feeling of tiredness and exhaustion already in the morning
- fatigue after work
- difficulty joking at work
- loss of self-control
- family conflicts
- excessive use of cigarettes, drugs, alcohol
- tiredness and irritability
- crisis of breathlessness or crying
- back, head and chest pain
- tiredness in the lower limbs
- visceral pain
- loss of appetite and nausea
- state of constant tension
- sense of frustration or failure
- reduced productivity
- negative reactions towards family and colleagues
- apathy or restlessness
- disengagement at work and posting
The causes of burnout
Gender difference (women are more predisposed than men), age (in the early years of a career it is more predisposed) and marital status (people without a stable partner more predisposed), are considered the first three risk factors for a condition of burnout.
But in the workplace there can be a flood of potential stressors that can lead to burnout, primarily the inability to find a motivation.
Here are the most common causes of burnout at work:
- increased liability without fair compensation
- frequent conflicts in job scheduling or interruptions
- organizational changes or change of duties
- unrealistic terms and deadlines
- programs that change often
- difficult interactions with colleagues or customers (anger, envy …)
- for those who do manual work, exposure to the weather and the lifting of heavy loads
And not only that, according to Maslach, an important risk factor is the lack of involvement of the worker in decisions that directly affect his working environment (which are thus seen as “impositions”).
Furthermore, even the uncertain expectations are cause for exhaustion: a role ambiguity, i.e. insufficient information on a specific position, or a role conflict, i.e. the existence of requests that the operator considers incompatible with his professional role or an overload beyond one’s responsibilities.
How to get out of burnout
Recognizing that you have run into a serious problem is already a step forward. Getting fired , however, given the times, is almost never the ideal solution, or at least it is not the one that guarantees immediate satisfaction.
What you need to do is first of all work on yourself, start by identifying what has led to that excessive stress situation and develop a “plan” perhaps even with the help of a specialist.
Furthermore, very small things are practicable which, if put together, can lead to a more rosy picture from which to start again with more positivity:
- unplug! Treat yourself to a mini-vacation, but also a single day to dedicate yourself to what you like most. If this is not possible, remember that it is essential to take small breaks, even a slightly longer lunch
- sport, one of the best natural remedies to keep stress levels low!
- changing your attitude is certainly not easy, but maybe if you get out of that bubble of cynicism created around you, you can find a more empathetic way of interacting with others
- setting and reaching small goals little by little, this leads to the increase of dopamine in the brain and small constant but constructive progress. To do this, compile a to-do list, dividing each activity into small parts and as the tasks are performed check the list
- cultivate a hobby, outside the office a hobby, an interest to cultivate are factors capable of decompressing stress
- talk and seek support, a colleague you trust, your partner, a friend … but don’t keep everything inside!
- telework, never considered the idea of working remotely? It can allow you to carry out your activities in a softer and more peaceful environment. Ask the boss if it’s feasible.
- sleep, go to bed early and recover the dear old good habit of a healthy night’s rest