Professional emotional burnout – expert opinion

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    Burnout Syndrome

    Эмоциональное выгораниеEmotional burnout is a symptom of our times. If earlier it was believed that only people of social professions suffer from it, today the situation is different – no one is safe from emotional burnout. The epidemic of this syndrome is facilitated by a serious tilt, characteristic of our time, towards achievement, consumption, materialism, entertainment and peak pleasure.

    Diagnostics of emotional burnout

    Emotional burnout can be recognized by the following symptoms:

    Emotional exhaustion and constant fatigue, physical ailments and frequent illnesses, changes in relationships with people – clients and colleagues – all irritate, disgust, a strong need to get away from any contact. And those contacts that are necessary are perceived as torture and punishment.

    Light burnout is familiar to all of us. It comes as a result of an overstrain, a one-time and short-term one, when we are pressed by deadlines and responsibilities, and there is a catastrophic lack of time. Handing over a project, preparing for an exam, etc. Getting rid of fatigue and tension in this case is quite simple – rest, sports, sleep, switching attention. Light burnout is not dangerous unless it becomes regular. Otherwise, we are talking about chronic tension that does not go away, which gradually becomes a disorder.

    Burnout levels

    Уровни эмоционального выгорания

    The burnout process unfolds gradually and goes through several stages:

    1. Idealization is a moment of enthusiasm when we diligently take on work without building an adequate attitude towards it. This means that there are inflated demands and expectations from oneself. We take on too much and drag it on for too long.
    2. Exhaustion – which occurs as a logical result of the previous stage. Physical and moral strength is exhausted due to excessive and constant exploitation.
    3. The inclusion of defenses – at this stage, due to constant severe stress, the psyche activates defenses – the dehumanization of social contacts begins. Any sincere relationship with other people is too heavy for the exhausted psyche. And the person begins to avoid them – emotionally, psychologically, physically. Any contact is perceived as poorly tolerated, annoying, superfluous.
    4. Gain. In this stage, the feelings of the previous stage intensify and deepen. Irritation becomes hatred, dislike becomes disgust. And now not only contact and others are unbearable, but everything around, the person seems to be poisoned by life and he is sick of it.

    But, is it really only our enthusiasm and self-confidence that cause burnout?

    Causes of emotional burnout

    Причины эмоционального выгорания

    Of course, everything is not so simple. The causes of emotional burnout can be divided into three groups.

    The first of these is socio-psychological. It manifests itself in the pressure of society in the form of stereotypes and expectations. So, each of us has ideas imposed from the outside about the way of life, salary, results of work and the quality of work of a successful member of society.

    Another group of reasons is related to the organization of working interaction. When work is organized in such a way that a person, having a lot of responsibility, has almost no freedom and is constantly under pressure, then he has two options – either looking for another job, or gradual emotional burnout.

    And the last group of reasons that we will consider in more detail are individually psychological, those that we are able to influence.

    1. Lack of meaning. We can do one thing or another for a variety of reasons. But if we do not see personal meaning in this occupation, then the result can be emotional burnout. And the meaning here is not understood as salary, social status or self-affirmation. Meaning is the experience of personal value in what you do. In a word, if what you are doing makes sense, if you feel that what you are doing is good, interesting and important, if you enjoy it and want to do it, then burnout does not occur. But these feelings should not be confused with enthusiasm and enthusiasm. The experience of meaning is a more hidden from others, more modest thing.
    2. Lack of proper motivation. Very often it happens that the motive of our work is not an interest in the process of work itself, but something else. It can be money, or an unconscious desire for self-assertion through power, or something else. Take, for example, a person who experienced poverty as a child. Then a secure life will be super value for him. He can choose a profession that makes it possible to earn money, but after a while he will find that, in fact, he is not interested in the work process itself, that only the possibility of providing a materially comfortable life with its help is important in this work. And then, the more we work in this way, the more we spend our lives in vain, on what we do not need, is not interesting, and possibly unpleasant. Emotional burnout arising for this reason will enable a person to rethink his own life.

    If we expand this thesis, then such an attitude can concern not only work, but life in general. When we set a goal, and it becomes overvalued for us. When our entire existence is subject only to movement towards it. Then we can devalue our own process of life, not live life, but fly past it, striving for one goal or another. Thus, our life becomes a means to achieve our ultimate goal and loses its own value. It turns out that I do not live the time allotted to me, but spend it only on waiting for the future and chasing after something. And, in fact, then emotional burnout affects not only our professional sphere, but our whole life.

    Thus, our actions, devoid of inner meaning and our own desire, which we perform for a long time, lead to burnout. Or the things we do just to finish quickly. And if our everyday life consists of such things, then it turns out that we strive to end our lives as soon as possible, rejoicing that our time is passing.

    Emotional burnout – how to deal with it?

    Как бороться с эмоциональным выгоранием

    You can solve the problem of burnout yourself if you understand what it is connected with. It’s worth starting with unloading – getting rid of part of the work, taking a sober look at the realistic expectations from yourself, mitigating excessive responsibility and too rigid framework. In this case, we raise the question of the attitudes by which we live, and how they correspond to our true essence.

    If the symptoms of burnout are already quite pronounced, it is worth taking a vacation and completely disconnecting from work for a while. Of course, it happens that even on vacation we cannot relax and isolate ourselves from our duties, feeling guilty and pangs of conscience. But this only adds to the stress. And in this case, we need to already change our attitude to all life, and not just to specific activities.

    Here are some simple questions to help you prevent the development of burnout syndrome. A simple search for answers to them can already give a lot:

    Why and why am I doing this?

    – Do I like what I do? Do I feel it’s good? And do I feel good when I do it?

    And the last, but the most important question – can I spend my life doing this business? If, dying, I look at my life, do I want it to be that I lived for this?

    Author: Alexey Lemeshchuk, psychologist, psychoanalytic psychotherapist.

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