Avoiding burnout'

What exactly is burnout? Everyone talks about it. In fact we all but accept it as part of our life. I think we all suffer some of the ''not me syndrome.'' We know we're tired, working too hard; we will readily admit we need to slow down,but that's more easily said than done in today's' 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 maybe 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, MD. ''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's very important to get your priorities straight once again, find out what's important in your life. Then stay committed to the things that are important, know when a challenge is a good thing, and learn to control what you can -- then let the rest go. 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 so 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 there a message there you've have been ignoring? Is it time for a new job, or possibly a new hobby -- or is it time to let go of some things you've been painfully hanging on to? Rebalancing your life can be uncomfortable at times but very rewarding!

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online April 24, 2001

Back to The Zephyr