Are you burning out?
What is burnout? Burnout can be defined as the exhaustion of physical and mental resources by excessive striving for unrealistic expectations. Many factors contribute to burnout, one of which is job-related stress. But even a person who has no trouble coping with stress on the job can burnout from stress in personal relationships.
Stress vs. burnout
A certain amount of stress is stimulating; it challenges us to think creatively and to implement innovative solutions to problems. This is "eu-stress", which produces a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. But when stress becomes chronic or when we have more stress in our lives than we can handle effectively it ceases to be a protective stimulating force; it becomes "dis-tress".
The term of burnout has been popular for sometime but is not always clearly defined. It is sometimes mistaken for simply a modern way of describing stress. Stress and burnout share some common symptoms: fatigue, apathy, cynicism, lack of concentration in certain physical signals (allergies, headaches, lack of appetite, back problems) may he characterized as either a person under stress or one expressing burnout.
Burnout victims are also characterized by a resignation: to themselves, their life situations, and their jobs. They burnout due to stress caused by:
1. Circumstances on the job
2. Excessive idealism and drive
3. Unattainable goals.
Stages of burnout
Burnout begins in the "honeymoon" stage, when the employee believes he can accomplish anything and the job will fill all his needs. As he begins to see the job more realistically, he enters the "disillusionment" stage. In the "brownout" stage, the employee begins to exhibit escapist behavior and signs of fatigue. Frustration causes him to lose all interested his work, and despair, the final stage, is marked by self doubt and feelings of failure.
Organizations can burnout just like people. When unrealistically high expectations become part of the corporate culture and high stress levels become commonplace, the company begins to show signs of organizational burnout: high absenteeism, a tense work atmosphere, lack of teamwork, reduced productivity, and eventually high turnover.
Warning Signs of Burnout
How do you know if you are a potential burnout victim? Ask yourself:
1. Do I seem to constantly be in conflict with my boss?
2. Am I often unsure about what's expected of me?
3. Do I have little or no impact in decision-making at work?
4. Do I have too much work to do, and too many interruptions?
5. Do I lack confidence in management?
6. Am I behind schedule in my career progress, or doubtful about achieving my career goals here?
7. Do I feel like I'm in competition with my peers for respect and promotions?
8. Does nothing I do at my job seem good enough to please my supervisor?
If you find yourself answering "yes" to these questions, start taking measures now to avoid becoming burned out on the job.
High Stress Personalities
Our stress can be addictive in much the same way as alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine. Stress treated by power, and vision, and over achievement can create a rush of adrenaline difficult to resist. Stress seeking people are characterized by:
- Inability to relax
- Head-on confrontation of problems
- Dogged commitment to self improvement
- Risk taking
- Nonconformance attitudes
- A need for social contact of becoming easily bored
- Thriving on deadlines
There are also people who seem to be "stress carriers?: they do not have ulcers, they give them! Stress inducing managers, for instance...
- Pile on work and fail to give adequate directions
- Demand immediate answers
- Bowl employees off one project to work on others
- Set unrealistically high goals to try that make employees work harder
Are you at risk?
Type A personalities are inpatient, self critical, competitive and aggressive. Always ambitious, they define success in terms of quantity rather than quality and are always in a hurry to accomplish more regardless of how much they've already done.
Type A people are usually high achievers, but they pay a high price for their accomplishments in decreased ability to enjoy life in increased risk of stress related diseases. They account for 90 percent of all heart attack victims.
Type E people: faced with the dilemma of trying to fill the traditional female roll as well as meet career demands, the Type E person winds up trying to be everything to everybody. They feel overextended and harried, pulled in different directions by their work and personal life. Too often, they take on others problems as their own, then feels guilty because they can't solve them.
The Type E person is a perfectionist, seeing partial success as failure. Having worked hard to achieve career success, they are often overly self-reliant, reluctant to delegate work or to ask others for help when they need it.
They psychologically over react to stress, burning a "dollars worth of energy for a dime's worth of stress." Although outwardly they may appear calm, inside they are in turmoil. Although they may be unaware of it, their heart and blood vessels are responding madly with racing heart, high blood pressure, erratic breathing patterns, and sweaty palms. Because of this, they are especially vulnerable to stress induced illnesses.
Professional counseling at my Marriage & Family Counseling Center can help high stress personalities recognize and accepted feelings, clarify their values, set priorities, and learn techniques for handling stress more effectively.
Now is the time to call for an appointment 765-792-3108.
*From the work of Harriet Braiker., Ph.D.., The Type E Woman