Avoiding Burnout

by Rebecca Huber

Last week I looked at stress and how to use the three C's for stress management. These tools can help us stay focused and keep us from scattering ourselves too thin. That's more easily said than done in todays' western world of deadlines and schedules. Many of us go along day to day thinking we're handling everything well­­ the kids schedules, relationships, work, little sleep­­ and then suddenly something comes along that completely upsets the apple cart. It may be just one more thing but it proves to be too much and without warning we've thrown our minds and our bodies into chronic overdrive that eventually leads to burnout.

There is no medical diagnosis for burnout, but it is well-known by the staff of The Stress Disorders Medical Services at New York University Medical Center. "One of the symptoms is feeling like all your energy has been knocked out," says Reed Moskowitz, M.D. "There may be a loss of pleasure in food, friends or other activities that were once exciting and interesting­­ a general sense of running on empty."

Physical indications of burnout are muscle tension, restriction of blood flow to the tissues and increased adrenaline buildup. These physiological processes within the body can lead to headaches, backaches and exhaustion­­ to name a few. Warning signs of burnout include having temper tantrums over trivial matters, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning and becoming accident-prone.

Taking control over burnout can be more difficult than just handling undue stress. It may be wise to first seek out psychological counseling. It is very important to get your priorities straight once again, find out what's important in your life, and use a tool like the three C's, commitment, challenge, and control. Don't expect miracles­­ especially at first. Recognizing that a problem exists, as they say, is half the problem.

€Here are some more tips on how to deal with burnout:

€Make time for exercise and good nutrition. A body deficient in quality nutrients feels flat, heavy and fatigued. Exercise is also nutrition for the body as it pumps fresh air and nutrients to the cells.

€Slow down: empty time is great for rejuvenating the soul. Use meditation techniques, go outside, go for a walk whatever helps your body and mind feel rejuvenated so you can once again experience moments where you just let things happen.

€See the big picture, take a vacation, seek pleasure and laugh. Don't allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the humdrum of daily life that there is nothing else. A joyless life is an unhealthy life.

€Get a massage. Massage can help recharge your internal batteries revitalizing body and spirit.

Burnout may be a symptom of a bigger problem. Listen to your inner guidance; is it trying to get a massage across that you have been ignoring? Is it time for a new job, or possibly a new hobby? Is it time to let go of some things we've been painfully hanging on to? Rebalancing your life can be uncomfortable at times but also very rewarding.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Questions or comments are always welcome via the Zephyr, email to zephyr@misslink.net or my office at 312 Hill Arcade, 309/343-5256.

This article posted to Zephyr online October 23, 1996
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