The Burn-Out Syndrome: the Consequences and Tolls of an Unbalanced Life

February 22, 2014

The Burn-Out Syndrome and Unbalanced Life

Ever heard of the Burn-out syndrome? It’s a very common set of symptoms that derives mostly from extreme dedication to work or others, especially in health and social related professions like doctors, nurses, social workers and therapists. It seems that the more devoted you are to your work, the more it costs you. Find out more about this heavy-burden syndrome and its tolls on people’s lives.

Am I burned-out? Here are some of the signs:

  1. Long hours of work. Do you work more than you should? Do you feel guilty when you leave work and go home thinking about work? Can’t stop and disconnect the work button in your head? Can’t remember when was the last time you went out to dinner or had friends over?
  2. Unhealthy habits. Have you quit doing exercise? Do you sleep 3-4 hours a night? Are you abusing alcohol or prescription drugs to stay awake and alert? Do you often skip meals and take more than 3 cups of coffee a day?
  3. Irregular behavior. Do people around you complain about your mood swings? Are you constantly irritated about everything and everyone? Do you often yell at people for no reason? Or can’t stand to be around people? Do you feel like you’re taking it out on your family, your kids?
  4. Psychological symptoms. Are you experiencing anxiety attacks? Feeling too stressed to even think straight? Can’t sleep or have too many dreams? Have migraines? Lost sexual thrive? Do you cry for no reason or because people around you don’t understand your obsession about work?
  5. A general feeling of being overwhelmed. Feeling like there’s too much to do and so little time? And do you have the idea you’re the only that can get the job right?
  6. Feeling like your life is empty and devoid of purpose.  Can’t enjoy the work you loved so much anymore? Can’t feel pleasure about anything in your life? Does it annoy you to be around friends and family? Are you contemplating suicide to end your misery?

You might be experiencing a burn-out syndrome. Ultimately, pursuing life like this will make you end up in a hospital or worse. But there’s still time to regain your life back and live it in a balanced way.

Why did this happen?

There are several reasons why people experience burn-out syndrome and it’s not just because of work. It might also be because you’re taking care of a sick and dependent loved one and don’t take enough good care of yourself. But here are some of the most common reasons:

  1. Probably because you’re a great professional and extremely devoted to your work. Which is no excuse to have no life outside work!
  2. You take too much care of everyone else around you. Are you the one everyone leans on? Are you the one everyone calls and you always go to the rescue? When do you let others take care of you?
  3. You think you have super-powers. And you can do anything – work, take care of your family, be there for friends, clean your house, do community work, you name it. My question is: can you do all of these things right? Or are you just mending things?

What happens if I keep on going?

These are just some of the examples of what might happen, if you do not become aware of what the burn-out syndrome is doing to you and your family.

–          Divorce

– Substance abuse

–          Alienation from your children (You’ll be the parent that forgets to pick up your kids or to even phone them on their birthday)

–          Loneliness (You’ll have no time for your friends or to make new ones)

–          Develop serious physical illnesses (too much stress causes real physical illnesses and your immune system is down so “opportunistic  virus” can attack you)

–          High suicide risk (your life seems to have no purpose or meaning and you might start to wonder why you’re even here)

What can I do to stop it?

  1. Seek professional help. That’s my first advice. It’s really hard to quit life habits you’ve probably have had for years and you might need some medication at first.
  2. Take care of yourself first. You can’t be there for others if you’re not feeling so great about yourself. And also, let others take care of you once in a while.
  3. Divide your day in 3. Some monks believe that in order to live a balanced life you should have 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of leisure. Seems impossible?
  4. Learn to say no. Is it too much? Just say no. The world won’t fall apart if you leave some work for tomorrow.
  5. Have healthy habits. Like doing sport at least 2 times a week, eating all daily meals and being around friends.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alyssafilmmaker/4029064544