Burnout—Is It Inevitable at Some Point?

 

Editor’s Note: How many people at some point in their life find themselves just “going through the motions”?  The treatment of conditions such as depression and anxiety disorder are prevalent facts of life in American society.  The author, a graduate student at the United States Sports Academy, makes some excellent points about things that all of us need to watch for in our own lives.

What is Burnout?

Burnout is physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, especially in one’s job or career. It can be accompanied by diminished motivation, inferior performance, and pessimistic attitudes towards self and others. The primary factor of burnout is emotional exhaustion and the main cause is job stress.

Burnout is referred to as a reaction to persistent stress that arises from depressing and downbeat interactions between environmental and personal characteristics.  It develops when one is working too hard for too long in high pressure situations without some kind of relief or break.

Burnout can be caused from any event or combination of events occurring over a period of time (differs for each individual) that may lead to three specific psychological responses: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishments.

Who can get Burnout?

Everyone can experience burnout!!!

Certified Athletic Trainers, Athletic Training Students, Approved Clinical Instructors, Professors, Clinical Coordinators, Program Directors, Guidance Counselors, Nurses, Psychologists/Psychiatrists, Massage Therapists, Surgeons/Physicians, Chiropractors, Lawyers/Attorneys, Facilities Coordinator…and the list goes on and on.

Prevention

Must be able to adapt, accept changes (positive and negative) in their work environments and remain stable in their work behaviors. Four factors to help prevent burnout:  1) Regular exercise, 2) Personal time, 3) Healthy diet, 4) Stress management techniques.

Signs & Symptoms

Frequent headaches, difficulty sleeping, poor or diminished appetite, nausea, unexplained body aches, digestive problems, increased absenteeism, increased negative self-talk, depression, poor social and communication skills, difficulty in interpersonal relationships, frequent and possible violent mood changes, and diminished care for the client.

Risk Factors

Earning an inadequate salary, covering work for another employee, working overtime, making critical on-the-spot decisions, length of time at job, having staff shortages, increased workload, lack of recognition or rewards for good work, having decreased discretionary time, working in a high-pressure or chaotic environment, perfectionistic tendencies, pessimistic view of yourself and the world, high-achieving, and type A personality.

Dealing with Burnout

1) Recognize – Watch for signs of burnout

2) Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support

3) Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your emotional and physical health

Examples: Encourage regular exercise, take a vacation/Get time off, stress management techniques (Meditation, yoga, etc.), establish positive relationships with coworkers, work as a team rather than individually, and limit hours per week that a person can work.

Jennifer Parker is a sports medicine professional working in a physical therapy clinic, community college athletic department, and a high school softball program.  She also works as a high school and college softball coach.  She was recently hired as Adjunct Faculty at the community college level.

 

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