BURNOUT – What is it? How do we defeat it?

Defined by the Dictionary: burn·out [bərnˌout] noun
reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use.

WOW! That is pretty powerful… ‘a reduction of substance to nothing.’ We use everything we have until we are left with nothing.

What leads to burnout?

Burnout can come from many sources and the more success that is achieved in any given area leads to more pressure, in turn, increasing burnout. Here are a few common examples of places in our lives that can follow this path. These are areas that I struggle with at times:

  • Parenthood- a successful parent allows their children opportunities to learn and grow while teaching them to be respectful and successful individuals. There are pressures both innate and society driven that are beyond love and safety. Some examples of these include giving opportunities for memories (travel/ experiences), striving for good grades, keeping both minds and bodies active, and providing healthy meals.
  • Work demands- a successful employee, in my case as a nurse manager, is multidimensional. The pressures that incur are immense in number and intensity and include high quality and quantity of work, improving statistics of care provided, meeting hard deadlines, being available to effectively mentor employees that report to you, and maintaining professional business standards among others.
  • Student- Yes… I am back in college after over a decade. Why? Good Question. Either way, it is a component of my life right now that can dance along the edge of burnout if I am not mindful and focused in preventing it. Pressures of school include financial, academics and knowledge, and time management.

There are many many many other aspects of life that lead to burnout. This is not at all limited to working parents who are returning to school. This is true for the unemployed, for the childless, the stay at home parent, the victim of spousal abuse, for the senior executive as well as the hard working laborer. We are all subject to using all of our resources up until they are gone and there is no substance left.

Burnout is a psychological syndrome emerging as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors, which results in overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment”

Christina Maslach, UC Berkley psychology professor

Here is how to defeat the beast we call burnout:

  • Decrease stressors– Prioritize. Learn to say ‘NO’. Set boundaries. Take inventory. What is on your plate? Can it be on someone else’s? Or is it even necessary?
  • Build self-awareness– Spend some time in reflection. Write plans and priorities. Audit yourself. Ask… What is important? What are my morals? My values? What legacy do I want to leave?
  • Practice self-care– Sleep. Eat healthy. Get some fresh air. Exercise. Take a bath. Pamper yourself. Pray. Breathe. Visit with friends. Watch a movie. Do whatever it is that refuels you. Just take care of yourself including your physical, spiritual and emotional needs.
Create a life that is joyful and purpose driven.

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