Burnout Syndrome or “burned-out worker” syndrome is a type of chronic work-related stress that generates progressive physical and mental exhaustion in those who suffer from it. It is an ailment that, since 2000, has been identified by the World Health Organization as an occupational hazard that also causes a lack of motivation for the work performed and other physical and psychological consequences.
The American psychiatrist Herbert Freudenberger first identified the syndrome in 1974. He did so after analyzing the situation of a group of volunteers at a detoxification clinic in New York. A year after beginning his work, he identified four defining traits in all of them:
- Demotivation for the work.
- Loss of energy.
- Less empathy for patients and colder treatment of patients.
- Anxiety and depression.
Almost fifty years later, the symptoms that identify a worker suffering from Burnout syndrome coincide with those pointed out by the American psychiatrist. Although at first, it was associated mainly with jobs involving close and permanent human contact, such as in the health sector, it is now accepted that this syndrome can affect any type of worker.
Those affected suffer from chronic stress that they define as “not being able to give more of themselves” in the development of their professional activity. Together with the emotional symptoms presented by Freudenberger, physical symptoms can coexist. The most common are the following:
- Muscle contractures: Muscle and joint pain, especially in the lower back, can occur as a result of work-related stress.
- Insomnia: The pressure to which those affected are subject makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- Psychosomatic disturbances: The stress provoked attacks the physical well-being of the affected person: gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems, headaches or headaches, dizziness, nervous tics, palpitations, tachycardia, increased blood pressure, muscle pain, sleep disorders or sexual appetite are some of the consequences of Burnout Syndrome.
The daily routine and the assumption of work-related problems means that it is not always easy to identify this ailment in order to be able to treat it and remedy it. One of the best methods to do so was developed by the social psychologist Cristina Maslach, who created a simple questionnaire, the Marlash Burnout Inventory. In it, the answers given by users to a few simple questions help to identify stressful situations.
If you think you may be suffering from a situation similar to Burnout Syndrome, Maslach’s questionnaire will allow you to assess it.
Causes of Burnout Syndrome
Studies have determined that the syndrome is mostly associated with highly vocational jobs. The disappointment generated in employees with a vocation who see how the development of their work does not meet their expectations is one of the first reasons that cause this stress. This often happens with employees and students alike. And here is a very interesting point: who is worse off in this situation? On the one hand, the employee can’t shift his job to someone else and must resolve the issue, but on the other hand, the pressure remains. On the other hand, the student can ask a friend to “write my essay” to help with his studies in general, but in this case, the problem may not be solved because of the possible options of not doing what needs to be done himself.
There is a typology of jobs in which this disabling situation occurs to a greater extent in the medium and long term for the worker. Some of them are these:
- They demand attention from the public, patients, clients, or users: Being in contact with other people, the employee is forced to constantly suffer complaints and problematic situations that he must try to solve. This can generate high levels of stress, which can lead to Burnout Syndrome in the long term.
- High levels of responsibility or concentration: Employees who require great concentration to develop their tasks are especially sensitive to suffer from the syndrome since a small mistake can have serious consequences on the job. This is why medical personnel are among the most affected.
- Very long working hours: Shifts in excess of ten to twelve hours a day affect the psychological situation of workers.
Do you think you may suffer from Burnout Syndrome? Try to feel better by following these tips.
As in any ailment, the first step to solving it is to identify it. Being down, apathetic, or overwhelmed at work should not be considered something normal. The job should also be a space of personal satisfaction in which social relationships are established and in which you receive rewards and congratulations for your good work.
If these circumstances are not present, if you feel dissatisfied, it is probably time to consider a change. Maybe it’s time to start training in some of the professions with more job offers today and regain your job happiness.
In any case, you can also do your part by taking steps to help relieve that stress and prevent job dissatisfaction from affecting your health and personal life.
Get active. One of the main consequences of this syndrome is loss of energy. However, stress increases as long as you don’t get moving. You may find it difficult at first, but doing sport will help to relax your mind and body. Music is also an ideal companion to reduce stress.
Analyze the way you work. As we have seen, one of the causes of Burnout is overwork and taking on responsibilities that are beyond you. Set yourself limits and talk to your superiors to reduce your load. Time off is great medicine.
Work on resilience. Overcoming adversity is also a cross-cutting skill that you can work on to increase your self-esteem. Accept your limitations and try to understand the limitations of others.
Consult a professional. If Burnout Syndrome has led you to an incapacitating extreme, the best thing you can do is to consult a psychologist, who will give you the guidelines to recover your self-esteem.