I was recently asked by someone on Quora to answer this question:
How did you overcome serious mental, emotional, and or physical burn-out and exhaustion?
Burnout is a particular form of stress. It usually relates to something very focussed, often work, but could also stem from a demanding relationship or some other circumstance. The result is emotional and physical exhaustion.
Burnout is a common experience. In some professions, burnout rates exceed 25% (1). If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you probably know someone who has.
From a health standpoint, burnout has been found to be associated with low levels of physical activity, obesity, exhaustion, heavy drinking, and diminished professional efficacy (2).
Obviously, it’s a personal and social problem that warrants attention, but if you are living with a condition of chronic pain and/or fatigue, burnout is definitely not a place you want to visit because burnout makes pain worse (3).
Look at other things that can help to help you strike the right balance:
- an honest self-assessment of the factors that are affecting you, and a commitment to act on the ones you can
- implementing a set of regular routines (times for sleep and getting up, mealtimes, etc) to support physical recovery
- learning how to shift your perspective to manage stress and make it easier to say “No” when required
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
It’s true, and completely under your control.
(1) Dyrbye, Liselotte N., et al. “Burnout among US medical students, residents, and early career physicians relative to the general US population.” Academic Medicine 89.3 (2014): 443-451.
(2) Ahola, Kirsi, et al. “Burnout and behavior-related health risk factors: results from the population-based Finnish health 2000 study.” Journal of occupational and environmental medicine 54.1 (2012): 17-22. (3) Armon, Galit, et al. “Elevated burnout predicts the onset of musculoskeletal pain among apparently healthy employees.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 15.4 (2010): 399.