Burnout, the Extinguished Spirit

I have been feeling exhausted and a bit overwhelmed at work. I enjoy my work. Yes, I really do. This economy has either given businesses the opportunity to trim their workforces or compelled them to do so. I understand the strive for efficiency but I also understand that quality takes time and commitment. I do not think I am yet approaching burnout but I can see it slowly taking hold within my work area. Employees who were very anxious to work overtime in the past now pass it up. They are tired and not even motivated by the extra money they might earn. That demonstrates to me an extinguished spirit and that is an important sign.

Burnout is generally thought to be work related, but it can occur in caregivers as well. How about parents, especially housewives? Many women not only work full time jobs but maintaining the household, ferrying children to various events, helping with homework and all the other little favors for friends and family. Whew, I got tired just writing that. I also know that this is not just restricted to women. I don’t think it is a matter of having too much to do but more of a feeling that no matter how much you do, it just doesn’t seem to matter. I took time today to let my employees know that in this time of “too much is not enough” that I truly appreciated their efforts and the work they do for me. One of the blessings that I have in my current relationship is that I feel appreciated. I hope that I make those around me feel appreciated as well. When one truly feels appreciated, they will feel valued and often changes their perspective.

Burnout is both a physical and mental response to unrelenting stress. Stress can be a good thing, even too much for a very short time can be a good thing. Stress compels us to move forward, to solve problems, and to learn lessons. But unrelenting demands or continual unrealistic expectations can lead to a feeling of “what’s the use” or “why do this, it won’t really matter.” Burnout is the extinguishing of a happy, active spirit.

You can’t always remove yourself from the stress that causes burnout. That stress may come from a job, a co-worker, a family member, or even yourself. Some people spend a lot of their time beating themselves up. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid the physical toll of your job or situation.

The mental stress can be dealt with by examining your situation. Can I change the situation? Do I really want to? Is it permanent? Do I need to communicate my needs or frustrations? If I express my frustrations, do I also offer compromises or solutions? Is there something that I can do differently? Have I considered everything that is going right instead of just focusing on what is wrong? Am I prioritizing tasks? Am I doing things that aren’t really necessary so that I can use that time to relax, reflect or do more meaningful things? You might even ask for feedback. You may find that those around you, including your managers are frustrated too. How can you support and be supported by those around you? Don’t go it alone, we are social creatures and need the interaction. Yes, we need human relationships to build upon, to nurture and to grow. So, what is it that you appreciate? Count your blessings and remember, it is never too late nor too early to plan for eternity. God bless.

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