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B u r n o u t


Burnout is a modern term for an old familiar condition relating to certain areas of life and is composed of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

It happens when, for a variety of reasons, where we are left feeling overwhelmed, when we lose both interest and motivation in the role we were led to take on in life. This leads to a reduction in energy leaving us feeling increasingly more helpless, hopeless, cynical , resentful and angry.

Thoughts include:

Every day is a bad day

Caring about work and home life seems like a waste of energy

Feelings of being exhausted both mentally and physically most of the time

Feelings that whatever you do makes no difference and / or is not appreciated

Naturally such negative thoughts and feelings quickly spill over in to both home and social life

From my work in the area of psycho immunology which focuses on the mind body interaction I have seen how long term stress causes long term changes in the body making the body vulnerable to illness from colds and flu to more intense physical conditions.

So we need to begin putting into place three key elements:

   1- to be vigilant and watch out for warning signs of burnout

   2 - work on reversing the damage caused to date through now working on managing anger, anxiety, stress and examining the causes of such thoughts and associated feelings

   3 - preparing for reducing future stress by working on thoughts, actions     and ideas and taking care of both physical and emotional health



Burnout is a term used to describe long periods of stress resulting in withdrawing mentally as well as emotionally. When we are going through burnout we are left feeling empty with no motivation and an attitude towards life and living it which is even beyond caring. Naturally this can lead many people to loose hope of any positive change in the future.

In contrast stress and general anxiety are more about too much pressure but still the person can still imagine a way forwards.

So now let's take a detailed look at the differences between stress and anxiety and burnout.


Stress vs Burnout





Characterized by over-engagement


Charactiersized by dis-engagement


 Emotions are over-reactive


Emotions are blunted


There is a sense of urgency and symptoms leading to hyperactive behaviour patterns
i.e. thoughts and conversation jumps for idea to idea and in our behaviour starting one thing and then jumping to another leaving things uncompleted


Produces powerful feelings of helplessness and of hopelessness resulting in loss of motivation, ideals and of hope

Loss of energy


Loss of motivation, ideas and hope for the future


Initial stress and anxiety leads to anxiety disorders - physical tension; post traumatic anxiety; free-floating anxiety etc.


Leading to detachment and reactive depression


Primary damage is physical showing signs of tension in the body


The primary damage is emotional

May kill the person prematurely as a result of stress related illness


Thoughts that may make life seem not worth living


Some of the primary causes of burnout

Most of the time work can be the primary reason for burnout but anyone who feels both overworked and undervalued is at risk of burnout. So, from the hard working, under appreciated worker who hasn't had a holiday or wage increase in years to the stressed mother struggling with the heavy responsibility of looking after four children, a part time job and caring for an ageing father the potential for burnout exists across the board.

However, burnout is not caused just by stressful work or too many responsibilities. In my clinical career factors such a personality traits to lifestyle can cause burnout as much as work or parental demands (follow this link to see parentified child - relationship rebuilding).

Work Related causes of Burnout


Feeling like you have little or no control over your work.


Lack of recognition or reward for your good work.


Unclear, unrealistic or over demanding job expectations.


Doing work which that is either monotonous or unchallenging.


Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment.


Lifestyle Causes of Burnout


Working too much, without enough time for relaxation and socialising.


Being expected either from within yourself or by how people see and relate to you to offer too much to others at personal cost.


Taking on too many responsibilities without enough help and support from others.


Not getting enough sleep or having long periods of interrupted sleep patterns.


The lack of close and supportive relationships.



Key Personality Traits which Contribute to Burnout


Having perfectionist tendencies where nothing is ever seen as good enough.


Holding a pessimistic view of yourself and the world you live in.


The need to always be in control and an inability to delegate to other people.


A driven, high achieving personality at whatever cost to self.


The Signs and Symptoms of Burnout

For most people burnout is a gradual process which happens over time which is one of the reasons why it is difficult to detect with little thought at the time given to the various warning symptoms. Initially the symptoms appear very subtle but, as time goes on, they become more and more intense and have a greater effect on day to day life and attempting to live life in general.

Here we are going to now look at some of the early warning signs that something is wrong and what needs to be addressed. In paying attention to such early warning signs it is possible to prevent a major burnout. If not then burnout is the next natural stage.


Physical Signs and Symptoms of Burnout


Feeling tired and drained most of the time.


Lowered physical immunity leading to having cold after cold or other physical conditions which follow on from each other.


Frequent headaches, back pain, neck and general muscle pain and general aching feeling in the body.


Doing work which that is either monotonous or unchallenging.


A powerful change in eating patterns and / or sleep patterns.


Emotional Signs and Symptoms of Burnout


A powerful sense of failure leading to increasing feelings of self-doubt.


Feelings of both helplessness and of being trapped resulting in seeing ourselves as defeated.


A powerful feeling of detachment as well as feeling totally alone in the world.


Loss of motivation with a growing cynical and negative outlook towards our role in life and for our future.


No sense of satisfaction with what we have achieved so far or plan to achieve in the future.


Day to Day Behavioural Signs and Symptoms of Burnout


Withdrawing from responsibilities.


Isolating ourselves from other people and situations.


Procrastinating and taking much longer than usual to get even the simplest thing done.


Using either food, drugs or alcohol as a way of coping through creating withdrawal.


Taking our frustration with life out on other people be this in conversation or how we act towards people in our world.


Delaying work or taking days off or arriving late and then leaving work early.


Now let's look at how we prevent burnout

If you are recognising the warning signs of burnout be clear that it will only get worse if you don't do anything about such symptoms. I know that it is difficult to become motivated whilst in the burnout response but that is what our work and my support will focus on so for now lets look at the steps required to begin getting your life back into balance.

If you have got this far and looked for the online resources to discover my website and the resources I provide then that shows you are more than half the way to preventing burnout and moving towards a full blown breakdown.

Well done!

Burnout Prevention

START YOUR DAY WITH A RELAXING RITUAL so rather than jumping out of bed as soon as you wake up spend some time, say ten to fifteen minutes reflecting on thoughts, your thoughts which are there on waking. Sit and write something in your journal, gently stretch your body or read something that inspires you. Listen to one of my audio recordings.


Eat food that you enjoy and which feeds what I term the inner child. Carry out regular physical activity and get plenty of rest so that you have both the physical and psychological resilience to deal with both life's problems and daily demands.


As with day-to-day pressures the lifestyle we create can take away certain issues. Don't over extend yourself and learn to say 'NO' which in turn allows you to say 'YES' to the things that interest you and you therefore really want to do.


Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put the laptop away, turn off the phone and stop checking email and social media.


I can't impress how much creativity is a very powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start an interesting project, or resume a favourite hobby. Choose activities which have nothing whatsoever to do with work.


OK I have heard this so many times from people in that when they are on the road to burnout they can't ever imagine managing the levels of stress they feel and so essentially are telling me how helpless they feel. Believe me when I say this, 'based on over thirty five years clinical practice I have seen, time and time again, how people had much more control over stress than they originally thought they did.'

We will be working together on learning how to manage stress to recreate balance using some of these core concepts by your following this link.

Recovering from Burnout

Burnout Recovery Stage One - SLOW DOWN

When you have reached the end stage of burnout, adjusting your attitude or looking after your physical and mental health isn't going to just solve the problem. You need to force yourself to slow down or take a break. Cut back from whatever commitments and activities you can and give yourself time to rest, reflect and allow the all important natural healing process we are focusing on to happen. Do this in the comfort of your home so that you adjust to normal life where you restructure all of the various component parts which make up your home.

If relationships have come under strain then you can learn more about how we can work together in terms of rebuilding a relationship by following this link

Burnout Recovery Stage Two - GET SUPPORT

Believe me when I say it is quite natural when you are feeling close to burnout to react by protecting what little energy you have left by seeking isolation from people, situations and events. However in reality the support of either family or close friends is of crucial importance to you. Turn to those you both love and trust for support in addition to our one to one work together.

You will be surprised how nearly everyone I have worked with tells me how simply sharing your feelings with another person can immediately relieve some of the stressful feelings. Especially when they turn around and,what I term 'normalise' your feelings by sharing how they have thought, felt and reacted in the self same way at some point in their life!

You see talking with friends or family isn't about you and them finding an immediate solution or a quick fix but rather it is more about sharing and in that sharing going back to basics or as I mentioned earlier normalising they way you are feeling and are reacting at this time.

Forget the ideas which are common in Western society that opening up about feelings will create a burden on other people. No infact, as I have said time and time again, your friend will feel how important you are in their life and so strengthen your friendship. After all you never know when they are going to need you in the self same way.

Burnout Recovery Stage Three -


Burnout is a sign that something important in your life right now is not working. So let us explore what your hopes, goals and dreams were really founded on. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you ? If so then burnout can be that opportunity for you re-discover what really makes you feel happy and whole and be that all important powerful ENABLER to help you change course.



Recovering from Burnout and Acknowledging Your Losses


Burnout brings with it many losses, which can often go unrecognised which traps a lot of mental and physical energy. Why? Because I have seen how it takes a tremendous amount of pain and emotional control to keep yourself from feeling the pain of such loss.


So, when you open yourself up to recognising these losses and allows yourself to effectively grieve for them you release that trapped emotional and physical energy towards balance and expansion.

Many common feeling and thoughts from my work include the loss of:


Idealism or dream with which you entered your career, relationship, journey in life.


The role or identity which originally came with your job, career or journey in life.


The powerful physical and emotional energy you felt.


Friendships, fun and a sense of community along with the self esteem and sense of identity life provided.


Engaging in the joy, meaning and purpose that make work and life worthwhile.



















































































































































































































































































































































To learn more about how I can work with you please make initial email contact

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