BURNOUT: What It Is and What You Can Do

Burnout is a term we hear often.  ANYONE can suffer from burnout! It is when you feel seriously stressed and simply believe you may not be able to cope one more minute.


As with most behaviors, when you learn how to recognize the problem, the causes and symptoms, and ways you can change your environment to reduce stressful situations, you will find you can “manage stress” much more effectively, and probably not burnout at all!

Burnout most often occurs in people who feel that they are overworked and unappreciated.  They become disappointed and sometimes very cynical.  They may also feel guilty and ashamed, and may secretly blame themselves.

Signs a burnout can be near include exhaustion (both mental and physical); hopelessness and helplessness; low self-esteem and low spirit, and perhaps more frequent illness.

Burnout often occurs in professionals that “help”, such as nursing or teaching.  But anyone who feels very pressured, or even bored from work can suffer from burnout.

The first step towards recovery from any stress related concern is to define the problem.  Is the situation itself stressful?  Is the problem just some small matter that triggers these feelings?  Is there something about your situation you can change?

Nurses as an example again, particularly those who care for terminally ill patients, can be prime candidates for burnout.  However, by accepting that the scenario itself is stressful, they can reduce feelings of guilt and resentment.

Make Changes

Changes in both you and your environment can help prevent burnout.  You must let your emotional response take a step back, and let your intellect analyze the situation.  You may have more ability to change your environment than you think. Try to think in positive terms to follow with positive actions.

If a lack of appreciation on the job is damaging your morale, take charge.  Your environment will change as you develop skills to communicate and voice a calm and intelligent opinion about matters to either superiors or your peers. Share your feelings and listen to others.  This is simple and yet can have awe-inspiring results.

When you ignore your needs (both physical and mental) during a period of constant or severe distress, burnout is surely going to be a result.  You must take time to recover and heal from burnout if it strikes.  It can ignite a series of other physical ailments if ignored.

Use and develop skills such as risk-taking, reaching out to friends and family, and talking with others in similar circumstances.

Ask someone your respect to look at your situation and suggest solutions.  Use this change to make burnout a first step toward greater satisfaction.

Above all, before any response, use your oxygen to calm and regenerate you.  Always breathing in slowly, visualize it helping your intellect and your muscles relax.  Then exhale slowly, visualizing all the negativity flying out the fingertips, and making way for positive responses.

Why not practice right now with a few thoughtful breaths.  It will help you right away!  Believe it.  Scientists are now proving “the ability of mere thought to alter the physical structure and function of gray matter.”  It certainly can’t hurt!

About Marsha

Marsha J. O'Brien, after a twenty-five year career as a personal trainer and health consultant, decided over ten years ago to dedicate her time to writing and publishing, and photography. In addition to her career in the field of teaching sound health of mind, body, and spirit, she specialized in stress management and relaxation techniques. She has been a contributor for several magazines, was an instructor for community college, and produced thirteen one-hour television programs for access television. When asked what first drew her to prose, she said she loved being able to express her experience and soul on the projects she creates. She cited a former English teacher, Mrs. Sloane, as one of the major writing influences in her life: "She told me to keep writing, but my finest writing would come after I had experienced life". Marsha is passionate about her writing, and endeavors to include within much of it, life lessons, with positive outcomes and insights. This last year Marsha had a severe spinal cord injury, and is applying all the techniques she taught to her own healing. She hopes soon to be hiking with her husband and dog, and playing with her eight grandchildren. She credits prayer, and God with her progress. She continues to write, and to post on her websites, as often as time allows: stressmanagementmagic.com and marshajobrien.com. If you would like to contact Marsha email: mo@jett.net
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