B is for Burnout

No, no.  Not this kind of burnout.

THIS kind

Burnout is the psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest.  It is usually brought on by long hours, little down time and continual peer/school/work pressures.  In short, it’s the price we pay for caring too much about what we do.

What causes burnout?

This article by HelpGuide.org  give a full list, but some factors include:

Feeling like you have little or no control over your work; lack of recognition or rewards for good work; working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing; lack of close, supportive relationships.

Warning signs of burnout (again, from HelpGuide):

Feeling tired and drained most of the time; frequent headaches, back pain and muscle aches; lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot; sense of failure and self-doubt; loss of motivation; feeling helpless, trapped, defeated; detachment, feeling alone in the world.

It happens to the best of us.  In fact, I doubt there was ever an author, teacher, pastor, doctor, student who didn’t suffer from burnout at some time or another.  

I never experienced burnout in high school, but I knew kids who did.  I did suffer from it a lot in my second year of college, so much I had to drop out. The pressure of trying to be an ‘A’ student, an exemplary employee and a ‘fun friend’ took its toll, and my life suffered because of it.  I was trying so hard to prove my worth to others I forgot to prove it to myself.  Sadly, I turned to other means to help me cope, which of course spiraled me downward into another funk that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  Thankfully, with the help of God, I pulled myself up and set my feet on the path to healing.

My own sons (one 17, the other 20) are going through their own ‘burnouts’ at the moment, as am I.  My burnout isn’t so much from one thing but an accumulation of things:  trying and trying to find a job to no avail; taking care of a disabled spouse.  While I love him, it is a thankless, 24-7 job with no accolades, no pats on the back, no hugs, no ‘date nights’.  The tasks once shared by two (i.e. taking care of the home, raising children) is now shouldered by one, and the expectations are enormous and overwhelming.  My youngest son, a junior in high school, is suffering from burnout so much it’s taking a physical toll on his body.  Sadly, he’s not the only teen I’ve seen suffering from the same affliction.  There are many others experiencing stress, burnout, depression.  There is so much competition, so many vying for future jobs.  Many teens find it difficult to find anything to look forward to but endless debt, an insecure job market, and rising college costs with no guarantees of a successful future.     

Burnout is reversible but the changes don’t happen overnight anymore than the onset occurred overnight.  My advice to everyone, especially teens, is slow down.  Take your time.  You don’t have to do everything today.  The world will wait for you.  For now, stop and smell the roses.  When and if you feel anxious, sad, depressed…take a walk.  Exercise.  I am lucky to live in Florida.  When down and troubled, I always find a little breath of Florida sunshine and a walk on the beach does wonders for my mind and soul.  Find a support group. Surround yourself with positive friends that can help you regroup and refocus.  Eat right, and develop healthy choices and, more than anything, take heed of the the early warning signs of depression and burnout, and get help before it settles in and takes root.  

If you’re a teen, teen hotlines are good starting places for teens dealing with many common issues, such as depression, suicide, drugs and alcohol, domestic violence and physical, sexual and emotional abuse, or who just need an understanding ear. There are also hotlines dedicated to specific issues, such as sexual abuse and assault, drug and alcohol dependency and smoking. Many hotlines can also help parents, family or friends of teens who are in trouble, and local hotlines are often able to provide references to services such as counseling, medical care or law enforcement.

Read more: Hotlines For Troubled Teens | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_4761425_hotlines-troubled-teens.html#ixzz1qvAqJPiM

What about you?  Have you suffered from burnout?  How did you overcome it?

‘On topic’ recommended YA read:  What Can’t Wait, by Ashley Hope Perez.

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11 thoughts on “B is for Burnout

  1. Great post! 🙂

    I teach an advanced group of students and all too often I see burn outs among them. They try to do too much and end up crashing pretty hard. Very often, I have to remind them to focus on the things that matter the most to them and let the other extracurricular activities go. I’m all for getting involved in school and the community, but not to the point of burning out.


  2. Late to the party, Jenny, but I had to comment on one line…

    “Trying so hard to prove our worth to others, we forgot to prove it to ourselves.”

    I was there once. SO much better to be on the other side of it.

    KUDOS on a thoughtful, well-written post.


  3. What a timely entry, was feeling pretty burnt out myself today. I admire your ability to keep your chin up when you’re dealing with so much, you seem like a very strong woman. I’m looking forward to reading more of your entries!


  4. Excellent post! Thank you for sharing this very important problem. A lot of people are in it, but in denial; they just keep sleepwalking through their lives. Sometimes we need to stop, and redirect ourselves. If that means quitting some things that aren’t fulfilling anymore, then so be it, and that includes a job. Burnout is a very real and debilitating illness and this information is really great to pass on to us. Best of wishes and happy healing! We all have to just ‘unplug’ ourselves at some points. And don’t be afraid to “go on holiday” but actually stay home, unplug the phone, TV and computers, close the blinds and just enjoy being at home with the ones you love even just for a day or two or a weekend. Order food in and just chill; in effect, ESCAPE!!! (It’s a cheap vacation. Try it!) Love MoonWynd


  5. Thanks, Kourtney! I actually took a day yesterday and went to Busch Gardens with my youngest son and we rode roller coasters all day! We had a blast. Then I treated us to blizzards from dairy queen. 🙂


  6. I’ve gone through burn out at work during busy season and during revisions with strict deadlines. I try to meditate, plan a movie outing, and exercise an hour a day. It helps to build in that “me time.” And when I finish the overwhelming task I let myself slow the pace and get a few days of r&r.

    I hope you find ways to get some you time. I can’t imagine how demanding your schedule is and how thankless it must feel at times.

    BTW, your blog looks AWESOME! Pat yourself on the back for that accomplishment. Maybe treat yourself to a manicure or lunch with a friend?


  7. I have been close a few times but I always found a way clear. There is a lot of pressure on kids to compete for spots in certain universities. My daughter just got into her first choice and big load is off her back.


  8. Caring for the disabled is a tough job. I do it part-time and find it physically draining, as much as I love the young adults I help. I can only imagine how tough it can be dealing with that 24-7, although I may end up knowing exactly how you feel as I don’t think it will be too much longer that my hubby will be able to walk due to his debilitating osteoarthritis in his feet and ankles. I hope you are able to find some respite for you and some support for your boys, so you all don’t completely fall apart. Walking on a Florida beach in the sunshine sounds like a great stress-reliever. Take care. 🙂


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