Burnout was a problem way before COVID-19 became a pandemic. Before, during, and after COVID, burnout continues to affect individuals from various backgrounds and professions. It is insidious in nature; the emotional exhaustion sneaks up on you, often without any warning signs.
People are set up for burnout, and this is due to two main reasons:
Think about it: Systems and organizations have a great deal of influence into our overall wellbeing. Our job duties, responsibilities, and interpersonal relationships with our colleagues and coworkers take up a THIRD of our day. In an ideal situation, our working environment and relationships would be a pleasant place to be. This is characterized with high engagement, satisfaction, and fulfillment in one’s job, and a sense of contribution and meaning.
However, with burnout, people most often find themselves working in an environment that is the direct opposite. This is where burnout begins.
A toxic workplace with low morale, staffing shortages, high levels of stress, low levels of stress management, bullying and harassment from coworkers and supervisors are all conditions that set forth the setting for burnout to begin. Furthermore, research shows su that a lack of fairness, respect, and inadequate resources to do our job properly all affects our susceptibility to burnout. Unfortunately, this is the grounds for which emotional exhaustion in the top performers climb, and resentment grows.
Burnout has a particular preference for Type A individuals. People who are extremely high workers, high achievers, and perfectionists take the cake – their efforts and time remain unrewarded, despite personal sacrifices that they make for their job. They may even start to feel anxious, on edge, and start to have trouble with sleep – either staying asleep, going to sleep, or sleeping too much or too little. Their mental health takes a toll, and symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, and depression often emerge as a result. This can be quite unsettling, especially if you have no prior history of feeling a similar way. You may not even know what is really going on!
This is the insidious nature of burnout. It sneaks up on you with a slow burn, often feelings like anxiety, depression, and low motivation. You no longer had the high levels of achievement – and that worries you, because that is not like you!
Burnout affects professionals in demanding fields such as healthcare, law, finance, and education, leading to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment. Balancing parenting and caregiving responsibilities can also lead to burnout, with feelings of fatigue, isolation, and helplessness. Students facing academic pressures may experience burnout, characterized by exhaustion, irritability, and reduced academic performance. Entrepreneurs often manage various aspects of their businesses, leading to stress; thus, developing a support network and practicing stress management can help prevent burnout. Caregivers of individuals with mental health conditions may experience emotional strain and exhaustion, necessitating assistance and self-care. Preventing burnout involves recognizing early signs, setting realistic expectations, and establishing healthy boundaries while embracing self-care as a paramount strategy.
Therefore, recognizing the roots of burnout and its consequences is essential for addressing this challenge. Learning to set realistic goals and prioritize self-care is essential. Maintaining clear boundaries between work and personal life is increasingly challenging in our hyperconnected world, making setting boundaries and allocating time for relaxation vital for well-being. Self-care is often sacrificed when burnout looms; thus, prioritizing self-care through activities such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies is crucial for preventing and managing burnout.
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We will focus our time on what is most important – YOU are the driver of therapy and change!.