A burnout is something that most of us go through in life, especially health care personnel, church ministry leaders and professionals or if we are in positions of leadership.
Many are experiencing job burnout. Sometimes, it can be avoided and other times, things are simply too far gone and there is really nothing that you can do at that moment.
Ordinarily, you just think that the feelings you are having is related to tiredness from your day-to-day or your forty plus hours per week work, so the tendency is to brush those feelings aside each time.
Other times the feelings can be masked. They go on unnoticed – hidden in the months and even years you have enjoyed in the spotlight with an impressive work ethic.
So impressive, you got in very early for work each day at the office. You stayed late and even managed to work your way through on weekends. You wore “workaholic” like a badge of honor.
Now things are quite different.
Not that you no longer like the work that you do but the prolonged feelings of disenchantment, disillusionment, extraordinarily high levels of stressors, lack of motivation, helplessness, and the extended periods that you are left feeling totally drained, tells you that you are really in imminent danger of a burnout and worst yet, a ‘spiritual and emotional crash landing.’
What is a burnout?
In my help guide research, a burnout is described as ‘a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, the individual begin to lose the interest or motivation that led them to take a certain role in the first place.’
Further research led me to American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD who describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.
Additionally, there are situations in which the demands being placed on an individual is far greater than the resources that are available to deal with the stressors, hence, chronic stress and eventually, a burnout.
Burnout is a real occurrence and can be very dangerous. If left unchecked or unattended to, it can greatly affect your job performance as well as your health, happiness, and your relationships.
Burnout can effect undesirable changes in your body where your body’s resistance drops so low that you become susceptible to illnesses such as cold and flu.
It is essential therefore, to know the signs and symptoms and to catch it and nip it in the bud early.
God’s Perfect Plan When Having a Burnout
There isn’t anything that we experience in our daily lives that God does not already have the prescription for. After all, He is our Creator. He knew well in advance before we were even created that we would experience burnout.
His plan is for us to live a happy, healthy, productive and fruitful life. He wants us to have healthy lasting relationships.
So this is what His word says:
“Come unto me, all that labor and are heavy laden [with stress, worries, problems, burnout] and I will give you rest. V29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) KJB
Stress vs. Burnout: Know the Difference
|Characterized by over engagement||Characterized by disengagement|
|Emotions are over reactive||Emotions are blunted|
|Produces urgency and hyperactivity||Produces helplessness and hopelessness|
|Loss of energy||Loss of motivation, ideals and hope|
|Leads to anxiety disorders||Leads to detachment and depression|
|Primary damage is physical||Primary damage is emotional|
|May kill you prematurely||May make life seem not worth living|
|Source: Stress and Burnout in Ministry by||Rowland Croucher|
What Causes Burnout?
According to Melinda Smith, M.A, Jeanne Segal, Ph. D, and Robert Segal, M.A., the Authors of ‘Preventing Burnout: Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Coping Strategies,’ a burnout is not caused solely by your job, stressful work or too many responsibilities, but by other factors such as your lifestyle and personality traits can contribute to it.
There are certain mitigating factors such as those workers, who feel overworked, underpaid, haven’t had a raise in salary for years and at the same time, are feeling undervalued. These persons are certainly at risk.
Other persons at risk are those who struggle daily between taking care of the home, young children, housework while at the same time taking care of an aging or ill family member.
Factors that Contribute to Burnout
According to Explorable Psychology Experiments, the different causes of a burnout mostly include:
- Feeling of little or no control over the stressful situation or stressors
- Lack of rewarding experience (recognition, benefits, etc.)
- Vague and/or too heavy role expectations
- Overly demanding stressors
- Unchallenging or monotonous activity
- Superior, peer or environmental pressure
- Lack of time for relaxation and socialization
- Too much responsibilities
- Lack of social support
- Lack of sleep
- Problems on personality, such as perfectionism, pessimism, authoritarianism, Type A personality
Warning Signs You May Be Experiencing a Burnout
A burnout doesn’t happen overnight, it progresses over a period of time. So how can you tell that you are actually experiencing a burnout? Here are 8 signs you may be having one:
1. Prolonged exhaustion
There could be other underlying factors or reasons why a person is exhausted but a clear sign that someone is having a burnout is the constant feeling of tiredness all the time.
Exhaustion manifests itself in one or more ways – emotional, mental and physical. The feeling is such that your energy has been depleted and you are at the point of physical or mental collapse.
2. Lack of motivation or loss interest
Motivation is best when it comes from within. However, once that internal motivating desire for work is gone and you are no longer enthusiastic, there is a strong possibility that you are experiencing a burnout.
3. Increased frequency in illness and lowered immunity
This can take many forms and range from frequent headaches to back pains, tension around your neck and muscle aches. You feel sick a lot, hence an increased rate of absenteeism and sick outs.
4. Your desire to quit is getting stronger and stronger each day
When we are having a burnout, you begin to shop around for a new place to go or you consider quitting altogether from your present job.
5. You become increasingly cynical and negative
Everything is a problem to you and everyday is a ‘bad day.’ You have a negative outlook on most things.
6. You feel trapped, helpless, isolated and defeated
Here is where you begin to detach yourself from others thinking that no one really understands what you are going through.
There is also a feeling that you are all alone and rather than asking for help, you isolate yourself from others, you internalize everything, thus causing the pressure and the stress to drain you.
7. Change in your behavior
Here is where you can go from one extreme to the next such as withdrawing yourself from your responsibilities, snapping and taking out your frustrations on others, and even turning to [junk] food, coffee, caffeine, drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanisms.
You once came in early to work but now you find yourself coming in late and leaving early. Therefore your work performance is now affected.
8. You take on a don’t care attitude
This can be from not taking care of yourself and your health like you once did to procrastinating and not doing the things you should at work. Suffice to say, you care less about others, you become increasingly intolerant and your love for people start decreasing.
Here are a number of measures that you can take to prevent a burnout:
- Develop and maintain clear boundaries between work and your personal life – don’t over extend yourself. Take regular breaks so that you can energize yourself.
- Assess every situation carefully and develop the habit of saying ‘no’ to requests on your time
- Cultivate a healthy, rich non-work life
- Develop and maintain healthy relationships professionally and personally.
- Give yourself permission to unplug – engage in activities that are outside of work
- Take occasional breaks from technology and social media – it is good to put away laptops, tablets, turn off your phone and stop checking emails sometimes
- Spend time each day meditating [early morning or before you go to bed works best] Start a personal journal and read things that inspires you.
- Learn ways to manage stress – you have the power and control over it more than you give yourself credit for.
- Eat right and engage in regular physical activity. Get plenty of rest. Nourish your body with the right amount of hours of sleep.
- Reevaluate your goals and priorities
- You may have been doing the same job for a very long time so don’t be afraid to ask for new duties, a different salary grade level that matches the amount of responsibilities or ever transfer across the organization where you can utilize your other skills
- Get the help that you need. Seek support from someone you can trust who can couch you through this.
- Slow down! Life is beautiful and it is worth enjoying.
Final thoughts..your turn
If you recognize the warning signs of an impending burnout, do not leave it alone but take action quickly or it will get worse.
Was this post helpful and if yes, in what ways? Have you ever experienced a burnout? What strategies did you use to help you recover from it?