Stopping is futile. Why cease the momentum when the day-to-day schedule appears normal? The mind can rationalize committing long hours to appease the ego. Some will comment that it’s their passionate nature and above standard work ethic to accept heavy workloads. It’s easy to forgo listening to the tangible warnings of digressive health. Sickness may arrive, depriving the host to concentrate and remain alert. How long can the mind ignore the signs? In time, the brain will take charge and force the mind to shut down and heal through long periods of inactivity.
Connecting numerous physical and mental symptoms often leads to one shocking prognosis, the term “burnout.” Looking back, individuals may recall family members and friends, offering warnings and gently pleading. Burn out is a condition from those who sacrifice themselves for others at a high cost. It leads to exhaustion, various forms of sickness, anxiety and the inability to cope. Doctors and nurses, teachers and police officers, military, and caregivers are just a few of the occupations which can lead to burnout.
In 1974, Herbert Freudenberg coined the phrase. He described it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”
Recognizing the Symptoms
In wearing the honorary badge of “workaholic” proudly, it’s vital to know the symptoms.
- Exhaustion: Stress pulls on our emotional, mental and physical strength. With enough weight straining the balance, some aspects will stretch beyond the limit and break. Without energy, for instance, the body feels heavy. Internal processes, such as memory, concentration and making decisions, will result in mistakes.
- Frustration: After enduring the internal drive to remain motivated, eventually, enthusiasm begins to waver. Perhaps, you are sleeping through alarms or falling asleep in the late evenings preventing the completion of projects and missing deadlines. The deep frustration of not maintaining and fulfilling a schedule results in negative emotions! Individuals may ask themselves, “Am I effective? Why do I feel incompetent?” Colleagues and bosses or managers will kindly acknowledge your job performance! Take the time to listen!
- Interpersonal Challenges: Family and friends who know you well will comment that you are not yourself. Perhaps, the feeling of exhaustion and frustration affects how you communicate with loved ones and colleagues. Are you withdrawing from people or lashing out and arguing?
- Adopting Unhealthy Habits: Everyone copes with stress differently. Some may indulge by eating unhealthy amounts of ice cream, chocolate, coffee or junk food while others will engage in hiding alcohol bottles, cigarettes or pills in fear of confrontation. Combining the challenges in home and work relationships, the overall feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness presents new problems of the mind, spirit and body.
Maintaining chronic stress levels over time can lead to more significant health problems. Hospitalization, digestive issues, heart disease, depression and anxiety, and obesity are possibilities.
Don’t Wait, Make Immediate Changes
Surrendering to improve your health is a positive direction to well-being. Similar to the onset of a cold, the body sends signals to the brain encouraging rest or the grand idea to take a wellness day off to enjoy a spa treatment. It’s essential to listen to your body! Balancing work and play are key to a happy life; therefore, find an activity to boost your spirits. Dancing or meditation, long walks or engaging in bike rides with friends will cultivate a lifestyle away from technology. Start saying “no” to weekend tasks or additional projects. Climbing the ladder can be more time enjoying life and sleeping peacefully rather than accepting a promotion.
Mental acuity is vital to every aspect of our day. In the decision to reduce hours of relaxation and sleep comes a price. The plummet into burnout doesn’t have to arrive, especially if you were once there. Every workaholic can implement three aspects today to strive for a balanced life. What are yours? Make a difference in someone’s life by calling a friend who needs to talk about the symptoms and solutions of burn out!