“A state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by a prolonged period of stress and frustration; an inevitable corporate condition characterized by frequent displays of unprofessional behavior, a blithe refusal to do any work, and most important, a distinct aura of not giving a shit.”
This is the definition of burnout given not by me but by Urban Dictionary. If it has taken on a definition of this kind, just imagine how much impact it has been having on each one of us over the years. Burnout is actually becoming a silent personality changer for many.
Let me paint a picture of Akhil’s slice of daily life here …
Akhil bought an apartment worth a huge sum of money, obviously a loan at a prime location in Bangalore. He was mighty pleased with the amenities that the apartment provided. His aged parents had company, his wife could continue with her Dental practice, his children joined a nearby school and all of them also had an active social life. The icing on the cake was that his office was quite nearby too.
Then something happened which pricked his inflated bubble of happiness. It was pricked by his “Dilbert’s boss” kind of a boss. He was put into a project in a very far-off location which required 4-5 hours of travel time daily on rain-free days. The remaining days, off course drenched even his minute stock of enthusiasm altogether.
Food, sleep and exercise became his least priorities. Burnout which started in the physical form from being an energy drainer slowly started showing up in other areas too. He was caught in a financial mess too as he had to repay a huge sum every month to take care of the loans. This resulted in additional worries which inturn made his health decline. Family time became sparse. He had absolutely no social life. He tried to reason with his boss but his efforts were futile. His boss had ears but he chose not to hear, let alone listen!
The burnout eventually became a monster in Akhil’s life which slowly started dictating it’s own terms & conditions and changed Akhil into a totally different person altogether – dejected, depressed and devastated. This is the Black-and-White picture of Akhil’s daily life! The colours had drained out completely.
I am sure many of you can relate to Akhil’s life. Now, gender has no prominence here. You can replace Akhil with your own name for sure! The issue which needs to be given prominence now is … How do you avoid getting burnt out by Burnout?
I attended an Anger Management Training Session once in Wipro Ltd.. It started with a discussion about what causes anger in each of us. A list of root causes came into picture – inability to manage the situation in hand, a way to vent out frustration, being short-tempered by nature and so on. I did pitch in my opinion too – financial pressure tends to make people angry at the drop of a hat.
This opinion of mine was brushed off as not relevant to the topic with a lame smile. However, this is where we tend to go wrong. We look for root causes mostly at the surface level whereas there will be something more at a deeper level. I had personally seen a person who became the angry version due to financial pressure. He was not accepting it but it did play around with his thought process. Frustration led to extreme anger so much that he used to burst out with rage very often.
The same technique holds good for analysing the root cause of Burnout too. Do not fool yourself by not digging deeper into the root cause! Analyse it in depth so that you get a clear picture of what to start working on.
Watch this informational video by Dr.Robert J Wicks about the importance of recognising a burno
Many factors do contribute to a burnout. However, just think about it … Do you need to give importance to all of them? Many factors will not even be worth getting worked up for. Prioritize the causes of burnout in the order in which they need to be addressed. Often, it may so happen that working on the top 3 root causes will take care of the rest.
Sneha was getting burnt out at a different level altogether. A tsunami of challenges came and swept away her happiness. This is when it was clear that she had to set right her priorities.
As she worked on each of her priorities, her life and career started falling into place. She was spared from the severe effects of the burnout. Had she not prioritised the root causes and worked on them, she would have been stuck in the whirlpool of her challenges.
The irony of the burnout phase is that you will not be able to make out at times that you are indeed suffering from a burnout. You might just be going through various phases mechanically without even realizing what is happening. It is at such times that you need to reach out for Professional help. A qualified Coach can surely help you in this aspect.
The reason why this is a logical step to go for is that one who goes through a burnout phase may not be able to find out the root cause at times. Even if they know the root cause, it may seem very difficult to get out of that phase. A Coach can help you look at the situation objectively whereas the individual tends to take a subjective approach. This is what creates a world of difference.
Also, the phase of burnout will be such that things will start falling one after the other rapidly before you are even getting a hang of what is actually happening. Reaching out to a Coach will eventually makes things fall … but in place. Overcoming and recovering from burnout is not a simple step but a detailed process in itself.
Going through a burnout – be it physical or emotional is a very painful lesson in disguise. We are not designed to take up the challenge of burnout time and again. Our body and mind will both give up! Take up the lesson learnt so seriously that you do not repeat the steps which actually led to the burnout.
Now, let me share the actual definition of burnout from Psychology Today
“Burnout is not a simple result of long hours. The cynicism, depression, and lethargy of burnout can occur when you’re not in control of how you carry out your job, when you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and when you lack social support. If you don’t tailor your responsibilities to match your true calling, or at least take a break once in a while, you could face a mountain of mental and physical health problems.”
In the definition I chose at the beginning of this article, you did get to see “and most important, a distinct aura of not giving a shit”. The first impression which each of us do obviously get is “Oh! We should not use such words ….”
Yes, we shouldn’t! However, the irony is that most of us avoid using those words but sadly live by those words by allowing burnout to control our precious lives.
Originally published at satishrao.in