Doug Dvorak's Blog


The Threats and Risks of Burning Out

Your passion and drive to succeed in life are powerful things. They push you to do things you’re uncomfortable with to get the things you want or need in your life. Your fire is what allows you to overcome anything that life throws at you so when that flame is extinguished, success and happiness become far more difficult to attain.
Burnout is a form of exhaustion where all of your motivation is stripped away. Constant stress without proper rest can make even the simplest task feel like an intense struggle. This happens physically from working your body so hard and intensely that you collapse from exhaustion.
Notably, this also happens mentally and emotionally and has become a growing concern in our modern world, specifically in the workplace. There are many things that can cause burnout and there are many things that can happen because of burnout. Read on to learn more about this issue and what you can do about it.

Threats of Burnout

Usually, the first thing that can cause burnout is an excessive workload and the stress that comes from that. Perhaps, you’re working long hours, whether it be longer days or working on the weekends. Doing this occasionally could be something to give you some extra money, but if something that is constant, whether or not it’s paid or mandatory, is something that can get to you very quickly and cause you to burnout from all of the work that you need to do. Whether it’s by choice or because they are in a situation where they cannot afford otherwise, having an improper work life balance can cause serious burnout.
While some people are in a situation where they have to work to stay afloat, in which case their motivation would be their sustainability and family, it is important for those who are able to have a proper work-life balance.
Another thing to consider is that your working environment is stressful all by itself. Maybe you’re in something that will be stressful even in the best conditions, such as firefighting or hospital work. Perhaps your working environment is dysfunctional, with coworkers or superiors that are difficult to work with or that are bullies. Maybe there isn’t anything wrong with the environment itself, but it personally stresses you out, like an introverted person working in a loud and crowded office.
However, one of the biggest reasons for burnout is a lack of fulfillment. Maybe you’re working at a job that you hate, because it is something you find dull or something that doesn’t make use of your skillset. Maybe it’s something that you used to love to do or is something that you’re still passionate about, but you’ve been doing it for so long that it has become routine or you’re struggling to move forward with it. This could also be a sign you need to take a break or a sign that you need to go in a different direction.

Risks of Burnout

With all the things laid out that can cause burnout, what are the things that burnout can cause? The obvious things that it will cause is exhaustion and stress. Burnout is a compounding of exhaustion and stress so intense that eventually everything, including the simplest task, will become exhausting and stressful. The intensity of this effect heavily depends on each person’s situation, sometimes only applying to their job, all the way to applying to their whole life. In the latter case, it can lead to a lot of emotional issues, such as intense negative emotions, including self-doubt, restlessness, constant worry, anger, sadness, and eventually falling into depression. This can sometimes cause destructive behavior, such as recklessness, substance abuse, etc. While this isn’t always the case, burnout can sometimes leave you feeling weak and worthless.
However, sometimes burnout can cause some physical and health conditions. One of the most common is insomnia. Burnout often makes someone feel restless, with so many things on their mind at one time. Thus, the wires in their brain are shooting and firing far after it should be resting, keeping them awake despite their fatigue. Moreover, constant stress and adrenaline is not good for the human body, as is the lack of rest, which can cause some significant health conditions, especially heart conditions, and can leave you vulnerable to illness. It’s even possible for someone to die from burnout, something that is a concern in countries with extremely intense work cultures, like Japan.

Treatments for Burnout

While there is no one cure for burnout, there are a few things that you can do to treat it. It is important to strive to have a proper work-life balance. Everyone needs time to relax and do the things that they want to do. If you’re stressed all the time and starting to feel burnt out, find something that can ease that stress, whether that be family, friends, or hobbies. Unfortunately, there are some people who are in a situation where they have to work all the time to stay afloat, in which case their sustainability or their family would likely be their motivation to keep going. But it is still important to take breaks, even if they are short, and find a reprieve from their work whenever they are able. Someone who is well-rested will work better than an exhausted person who works longer.
For those who forgo that balance or are stressed regardless of their work-life balance there are still things you can do. There are multiple ways that you can seek support, from therapy, work counselors, religious leaders, and even your employers sometimes. Everyone needs help to work through their stress and sometimes they may be people who can help you navigate through difficult situations.
Additionally, you may also need a change. If it’s way too stressful, maybe you need to find a better environment to work in or need to find ways to stay healthy. If you hate your job, try to find something that’s more fulfilling, try to learn a skill or trade that may lead to a more fulfilling career. If it is something you love, branch out, try something new with it, do other things to find the passion that you found in it originally again. Just don’t quit your day job until you do.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, famous Russian novelist and author of Crime and Punishment, once said in his book “The Brothers Karamazov”, “You will burn, and you will burn out; you will be healed and come back again.” Thankfully, no matter how bad it feels, it won’t last forever. Once you return from the brink, you will be revitalized and be able to forge your path stronger than ever.


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