As I’ve talked about in weeks past, burn-out can be the result of failing to pause for self-care. But what does experiencing burn-out look like? If you’ve taken a look at our home page, you’ve gotten a little introduction. Today, we will dive a little deeper into this.
We’ve all had bad days, where everything seems to go wrong, everyone is irritating and even your favorite person is just pissing you off. So- how is burn-out different?
It is feeling tired even after sleeping, feeling a total lack of inability to meet regular responsibilities.
Technically speaking, it is a “cognitive and emotional state that ‘includes emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment” (Morse et. al 2012). Research shows that it can impact those who deal with people, especially if the work you do can significantly impact the other person (Sutlief , 2013).This includes SO MANY PEOPLE.
Symptoms of Experiencing Burn-Out
What can be so incredibly difficult about identifying burn-out is that it looks differently across different people. Here’s some symptoms and in upcoming blogs, we’ll hear from a variety of women about their own symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Quick to anger, tears
- Irritable, frustrated easily
- Taking things personally
- Feeling like the world is “out to get you”
- Being unable to shut down empathy- others’ problems become yours
- Less productivity, more time on work (Sutlief , 2013).
The list goes on and on. We will talk about self-inventory in future blog posts, but take a second and think about it- do you identify with any of these symptoms?
Implications of Burn-Out
Above all burn-out doesn’t just impact your today. It can also affect your tomorrow. Burn-out can lead to “insomnia, increased anxiety and attitude problems, like aggressive behavior.” (Morse et. al 2012). Remember when I wrote about how physical and mental health are intertwined? Unfortunately, it can lead to a variety of physical complications as well: weight gain, high blood pressure, headaches, heart problems.
What about other implications? Anyone ever snapped at their husband for no reason? Eve ignored friends and/or family because you just can’t even?
Science of Stress
Sometimes some people (aka my dad!) like to see and understand the science behind something. Don’t worry… I got you! Let’s talk about the science of stress.
Stress can actually make physiological changes to our brain. FRICK! Stress is really a response to something and can serve as a warning sign. As such, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. According to Touro University Worldwide,
“how harmful it is ultimately depends on its’ intensity, duration and treatment”
So what actually happens in our brains? (Understanding the stress response, 2018).
- Amygdala: in charge of emotional processing, interprets stress and sends warning signs to…
- Hypothalamus: brain’s command center, responsible for fight or flight. It sends alert to…
- Sympathetic Nervous System: sends the alert to release adrenaline.
- Physiological changes: heart beats faster, pulse rate and blood pressure increase, sight, hearing and senses become sharper.
- Cortisol: hormone is released to counteract lost energy during stressful event.
When someone grows over-stressed, chronically stressed or is experiencing burn-out, cortisol levels can remain too high as they don’t have the opportunity to be released. High cortisol levels can wear down brain’s ability to function. In addition:
- Can disrupt synapse regulation, loss of sociability and avoidance of interactions with others
- Kill brain cells
- Reduce size of brain, shrinking effect on prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for memory AND learning.
Burn-out can be extremely frustrating; it feels like it sneaks in, takes control and wrecks havoc. Understanding it is an actual thing, not just a mess of emotions you are stuck with forever, can give you back more control.
Berstein, R. (2016, July 26). The Mind and Mental Health: How stress affects the brain. Health & Human Services: Touro University Worldwide. Retrieved from: https://www.tuw.edu/content/health/how-stress-affects-the-brain/
Morse, G., Salyers, M. P., Rollins, A. L., Monroe-DeVita, M., & Pfahler, C. (2012). Burnout in mental health services: a review of the problem and its remediation. Administration and policy in mental health, 39(5), 341-52.
Understanding the stress response. (2018, May 1). Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response.