Throwing in the Towel: Are You Experiencing Burn-Out?

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What is Burn-Out?

Burn-out is when you find that you are emotionally and psychologically drained from doing a task or job. Usually burn-out occurs after doing this task or job for an extended period of time . It is more than having an isolated "bad day". If you are glad when Friday rolls around, you may simply need a restful weekend. If, on Friday, you are already dreading going back to work on Monday; you may be experiencing burn-out.

People in service and caring professions do seem to be more likely to burn out. These professions may include the health professions as well as teachers and daycare providers. These are jobs that often require a person to be involved emotionally and psychologically with the people they serve or care for. Also there is a greater likelihood that you may take work home with you emotionally if not physically. After-hours, daycare providers may find themselves wondering how they are going to handle an anticipated conflict with a new family. The preschool teacher may be worrying how they will handle an on-going behavioral problem in the classroom.

Are You at Risk?

You may be at risk if you can identify with many of these statements:

  • I have a hard time asking others for help.
  • I tend to strive for perfection and have very high expectations for myself.
  • I have difficulty saying no to additional requests for my time.
  • If only I would work harder, I would be successful.
  • I should be able to do what others cannot.
  • My work life comes first.
  • I am a giver, not a taker.

How Can Burn-Out Effect You?

Here are some of the more common feelings others have reported:

  • Being overwhelmed
  • Seeing everything in a more negative light
  • Difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions
  • Being irritable or depressed
  • Losing a sense of purpose or motivation

How Can I Prevent or Cope With Burn-Out?

There are some very specific things you can do before you reach the point of throwing in the towel:

  • Seek out the support of others in similar situations. Join a professional organization or support group.
  • Work on setting limits and learn how to say no.
  • Step back and re-evaluate your goals and priorities.
  • Cut back on any tasks or responsibilities that are of lower priority.
  • Recognize and accept your limitations.
  • Take care of yourself. Be sure to eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Learn how to delegate.
  • Schedule time for yourself. Seek out diverse hobbies or pastimes.
  • Engage in stress relieving activities or relaxation exercises.

There may come a time when you just cannot continue. The feeling that you cannot face another day is overwhelming. This is when it may be best to take a break and try to gain a fresh perspective. You could discover that a short vacation is just what the doctor ordered. Or perhaps, it is time to choose a new career path.

© 2004 Joni Levine