Burnout is not a new phenomenon. It seems that Herbert Freudenberger created the word “burnout” in 1974 when I was 3 years old. In his book, Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement Freudenberger defined burnout as, “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”
In its 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided a detailed definition of burnout. Specifically, the World Health Organization recognized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
The World Health Organization was also kind enough to identify some symptoms/characteristics of a person suffering from burnout:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
If the symptoms/characteristics that the World Health Organization provides are not detailed enough for you, don’t worry. In their book, Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. Christina Maslach & Michael P. Leiter identify some of the most common signs of burnout as such:
- Alienation from work-related activities: Individuals experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with. They may also emotionally distance themselves and begin to feel numb about their work.
- Physical symptoms: Chronic stress may lead to physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
- Emotional exhaustion: Burnout causes people to feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. They often lack the energy to get their work done.
- Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work—or in the home when someone’s main job involves caring for family members. Individuals with burnout feel negative about tasks. They have difficulty concentrating and often lack creativity.
So, what do you think? Are you burned the F#!k out or Nah? Stay tuned. In Part III of this series you can take a burnout test.
Did you miss Part I of the Burnout Series? No worries. Click Here to Read!