Burnout Syndrome: What You Need to Know
What is Burnout Syndrome?
I am sure we've all had these days where we feel like doing nothing except stay at home, order take-out, and binge watch series or read books. It is perfectly normal to take a day or two for yourself away from the overwhelming demands of life. In fact, studies now show that vacation time or 'personal days' result in improved productivity, lower stress and better mental health.
But, what happens when these two days become a week or month, during which you are too emotionally and physically exhausted to follow up on your commitments, whether personal or professional?
As a freshman in university, I experienced a similar situation. It was intolerable to say the least. I would sit at my desk for hours on end not being able to focus or recall any topics from the curriculum. My sleep schedule was very off and I was constantly exhausted. It got to the point where I gave up on trying to study for tests, convinced that the information would seep through my brain in the state that I was in. I was right; by that point, there was nothing I could do, because, as I now know, I was suffering from Burnout Syndrome.
Recognized in May or 2019 as a psychological disorder, Burnout Syndrome is a type of 'human battery depletion' characterized by extreme mental and physical exhaustion for a prolonged period of time as a result of chronic stress. It's symptoms show themselves on a spectrum depending on how far the disorder has progressed.
So, what are the symptoms?
Effect on Areas:
Symptoms of Syndrome
IBS, chest pains, decreased immune system
difficulty paying attention
impaired cognitive function
acute loss of enjoyment
lack of energy
trouble falling sleep on some days
infrequent loss of appetite
tension, worry, uneasiness
anxiety interferes with daily tasks
inability to finish projects
resistance to socializing
Causes of Burnout Syndrome
Acknowledging and treating the above symptoms of the syndrome can spare someone a lot of mental and physical pain. But recognizing and avoiding the following causes before symptoms occur is also important.
feeling either permanently overworked or under-challenged, being under time pressure, or having conflicts with colleagues.
extreme commitment that results in people neglecting their own needs.
And, while many sources claim that the diagnosis is limited to work environments and shouldn't be applied to other situations, it has been proven that the syndrome can be caused by social, athletic, and academic demands as well.
After months of feeling guilty about my inability to function, I made a decision that was crucial to my recovery. I started eliminating stressors from my life and adding de-stressors, such as:
1) Positive and rewarding work:
- excites and motivates you
- is enjoyable
- where you feel appreciated and valued by your boss and peers
2) Supportive individuals:
- who stick by you at your time of need
- who do not judge you
- who are understanding of your mental state
3) Foods that have been shown to decrease stress, including:
It may seem daunting to do this at first. I even left my job for one that was less stressful and deadline-based. But, if I can do it, so can you! You may think that many aspects in your life are not under your control, but they are. You don't have control over your overly-nosy relatives, but you do have control over how often you see them. If you can't leave your job for financial reasons, you can choose to work on less projects. So, do it and put your mental health above everything else.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Laila Hashem