Overcoming Burnout Part 1

Overcoming Burnout Part 1

by Dr. Andy Yarborough

Burnout is real and on the rise.

A report done by Gallup in 2020 found that 76% of employees at least sometimes experience burnout on their job with another 20% saying that while rare, they also on occasion have work-related burnout. That leaves only 4% that say they never experience burnout.

Another survey done by job site aggregator Indeed.com in 2021 found that burnout increased by 9% across all survey respondents.

If you do a search for burnout statistics on Google, every result is linked to burnout in regards to a job. None of these statistics are taking into account burnout that can be felt in our personal lives as parents, singles, or students. Maybe you’re reading this and feel like work life is more balanced and restful than personal life but are still experiencing symptoms of burnout.

Whichever demographic you fit into, without the right rhythms in your life, you’re at risk of burnout.

The place to start when it comes to identifying burnout or even the potential of it in your life is awareness. In this two-part blog series, I want to help you understand what burnout is, the key areas it impacts, and the solution to keep those places healthy.

What Is Burnout

It’s important that we properly understand what burnout is so we can identify it in our lives. If we don’t diagnose something correctly we can implement practices that, even if beneficial, won’t really be helpful for addressing the underlying issue.

For example, you can try to address a feeling of tiredness with more sleep but if your tiredness isn’t caused by a lack of it then even though sleep is a good thing you’ll continue to feel tired.

Or you might treat constant migraines with medication (once again, a good thing) when the problem could really be dehydration or too much screen time.

So what is burnout? The American Psychological Association defines burnout as physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lower performance, and negative attitudes towards oneself and others caused by prolonged or repeated stress.

But even with this definition, the concept of burnout can be a bit amorphous. When am I burned out, or when am I just generally tired, exhausted, or just need a break? These are all great questions and require a level of personal discernment for us to differentiate between.

One of the greatest indicators of burnout goes beyond feeling disconnected from activity but it’s when you begin to be so overwhelmed that you feel disconnected from yourself. You feel numb like you don’t even know yourself. It’s like an identity crisis where you don’t even know who you are.

In general, you should see burnout more as the end of a continuum towards which you can move. One end of that continuum is healthy engagement (that’s where we want to be) while the other is full-blown burnout. Healthy engagement is when we steward our responsibilities well with proper boundaries and self-care. Healthy engagement is important to keep in mind because it reminds us that the solution to burnout isn’t avoiding responsibility. Life requires us to be engaged and to work. To some degree, life should be depleting as we pour out but should be complemented with being filled up as well.

All that being said, while burnout is different from a general sense of tiredness or feeling stressed out, not paying attention to those earlier signs and dealing with them can still get you there.

I’d like to give you a helpful resource that can serve you in identifying if you are experiencing burnout or moving towards it. The Heading Institute, which does a lot of work with humanitarian responders worldwide has made an assessment to help you see if you’re showing signs of burnout. Click below to do it.

Signs of Burnout Self-Test

In the next and final part of this series, we’re going to look at 4 key areas that when depleted indicate full-blown burnout. If you’d like to get ahead and dig more into this topic, you can also check out this conversation that I had on Leadership in Black and White. See the link below to watch the conversation.

Leadership in Black and White: Burnout with Dr. Andy

 Dr. Andy Yarborough

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