What is Burn Out?

Burn out is no longer a trendy descriptor for how you might feel, it has now been classified as a legitimate condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). Burn out is categorically different than the usual stress that we all feel. Stress produces feelings of frustration and anxiety but is often short-lived and tied to a specific event or circumstance that resolves in a short period of time. Burn out, on the other hand, is a longer-term state of mental, emotional and sometimes physical exhaustion. This often evolves from prolonged or repeated stressors. People are often left feeling overwhelmed and struggle to meet life’s demands and can develop a negative or cynical outlook toward their stressors.

There are three types of burn out:

  • Organizational Burn Out: This occurs when there is a mismatch between the person and their job or work environment. For some people, this could be hours that are too long, work that is monotonous, or work that is not aligned with your sense of purpose.
  • Interpersonal Burn Out: This can evolve from difficult relationships at work, with family, or a romantic partner. Burn out could manifest from dealing with a difficult coworker, a strained and dysfunctional marriage, unhealthy family relations, or even the taxing impact of caring for others such as elderly parents, often referred to as caregiver burn out.
  • Individual Burn Out: This often stems from chronic stressors (health issues or financial problems) or negative self-talk that fuels low self-esteem.

Symptoms of Burn Out

Burn out can manifest in a variety of symptoms and may look slightly different from one person to the next. Below are some of the symptoms to watch for.

  • Physical Symptoms: trouble sleeping, low energy, poor concentration, lower appetite, headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, or GI issues.
  • Mental/Emotional Symptoms: impatience, irritability, frustration, cynical, negative, unmotivated, guilty, down, sad, or lonely.
  • Performance Symptoms: struggling to concentrate, lacking creativity, procrastination, lower efficiency, trouble organizing, lower productivity, low output, or low ambition and drive.

If burn out persists for too long people can become susceptible to more serious problems like depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse issues.

Causes of Burn Out

The cause of burn out can vary with the type of burn out and each individual person. Let’s go back to our types of burn out and explore some potential causes of the burnout.

  • Organizational Burn Out: Causes of burn out at work could stem from a lack of control or inability to influence decisions that end up affecting your job. This could include workload, schedule, or the allocation of assignments to name a few. For others, burn out may evolve from unclear expectations, toxic coworkers, or a boss that is unavailable on one extreme or micromanaging on another.
  • Interpersonal Burn Out: Not dissimilar from organizational burnout, interpersonal burn out often has to do with dysfunctional relationships. Where things in the organization may remain civil and diplomatic, interpersonally things may get quite contentious. Root causes of burn out with family or romantic partners may stem from control issues, a lack of safety or trust, feeling manipulated or ignored and dismissed.
  • Individual Burn Out: For many, the source of individual burn out often comes down to an imbalanced equation of too many stressors and not enough coping skills. When stressors accumulate and it feels like our plate is overflowing and we don’t have the time or resources to manage them, we are prone to burn out.

In the next blog, we will have a quiz you can take to determine if you may be experiencing burn out. Then we will talk about ways to combat burn out and discuss what you can do about it.

If you are interested in talking with one of our therapists about whether you may be burning out and what you can do about it, please call us now at 763-416-4167, or request an appointment on our website: WWW.IPC-MN.COM so we can sit down with you and complete thorough assessment and help you develop a plan of action that will work for you. Life is too short to be unhappy. Find the peace of mind you deserve.

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