Burnout Syndrome: Professional Exhaustion

The state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused mainly by professional reasons was nicknamed Burnout Syndrome by the great German psychologist Herbert Freudenberger.

Burnout , as it is said in a more simplistic way today, affects a large part of the population, with a greater incidence in doctors, nurses and teachers. It is the result of excessive and prolonged stress . This problem starts to arise when we start to feel overwhelmed, unable to get anywhere and emotionally exhausted. The first signs are linked, for example, to the loss of interest and motivation that existed when carrying out a certain professional role.

From there, you start to reduce productivity and run out of energy much more quickly (feeling tired even when you wake up) is a quick leap. This state begins the so-called snowball: we begin to feel more despair, helplessness, resentment and an emptiness that leads us to even question what we have to give. The discouragement, sadness and hopelessness are profound.

And, obviously, all other areas of our life are affected. The emotional and social area are two of them. But not only. Your immunity becomes weaker and the tendency for flu-like and/or infectious conditions increases.

Therefore, it is urgent to prevent or treat Burnout immediately. Although, as always, these tips do not completely replace the help of a professional, these are guidelines that should be taken into account, at least in terms of preventing this debilitating problem. The first things to know is the difference between tiredness, stress and Burnout itself. Now see:

Stress :
  • It produces extra commitment;
  • Reactive emotions;
  • Urgency and hyperactivity;
  • Loss of energy;
  • Anxiety;
  • Primary damage: physical;
  • It causes premature illnesses.

Burnout :
  • It produces less commitment;
  • Numb emotions;
  • Helplessness and hopelessness;
  • Loss of motivation, ideals and hope;
  • Lack of interest and depression;
  • Primary damage: emotional;
  • It causes a tendency to suicide.

As such, and because it is, in fact, urgent: let's look at the tips and start putting them into practice today.

At work

"One day at a time". We must take this motto seriously. What is really essential to do today? Focus on that and leave the rest for tomorrow. It is also prohibited to schedule too many things for one day. You know that later you can't do what you want and frustration leads to depression.

Split tasks! Stop thinking that only you do things well. Divide chores and tasks that, even if the other person does it differently than you (or more slowly), it still gets done well. Perfectionism only leads to exhaustion.

At lunch time, go outside. The difference between staying indoors at work for a whole day and not going out, even if it's just for half an hour, is huge! The brain needs to oxygenate so that the entire organism can recover and can then reason properly again.

Stop multitasking. Our mind cannot process two things at the same time. It seems like everything is happening simultaneously because it's very fast (thousandths of a second) but that's not true. The brain works in series, doing one thing at a time. Therefore, when we are answering the phone and writing an email at the same time, our attention goes from writing to the phone, and vice versa, and the drain on brain energy is huge. This triggers the stress response without it being necessary.

Stop trying to change bad colleagues or expecting them to change overnight. If there's one thing in the world we can't change, it's other people. The only person you can change is yourself! And even then, it's not easy. Therefore, it is time to lower expectations and think that colleagues, “tomorrow”, will be friendlier or will stop making intrigues. The change is in you. If you can, stay away, spend as little time as possible with those who do you the least good and deal with these people only what is essential. If you can't walk away, use your wits and deal with those colleagues (or boss) as you know will go best. Remember that, out there, there is someone who truly loves you, be it your father, mother, friend, brother, etc., and that generally those who are not happy with themselves are also not happy with others.

Take breaks throughout the day to eat and breathe slowly. Both food and air are our main source of energy! If you eat in a hurry, under stress, you will not digest properly and both your stomach and intestines will suffer. With a resentful stomach and intestines, after a day of work you won't recover even half of the energy you lost. The practice of breathing must also be implemented, as breathing plays a fundamental role in balancing our nervous system. During the day, take three inhalations and exhalations, as slowly as possible.

Stop offering. Even if you love doing things and helping, don't abuse offering to constantly resolve certain situations. Be more measured. You can't always take work home. You need time at home for yourself and your loved ones.

Consider changing jobs. It's not easy, of course, but it's also not always impossible and fantastic opportunities often appear. Take a risk and send resumes. Never know.

Off work

Distribute tasks. As mentioned above, it is important that you also ask for more help at home. Don't want to do everything and take care of all the errands.

Forgive yourself. Take it easy on yourself. Perfection does not exist. These are moments. Look for exercises on self-compassion. Try it.

Do physical exercise. Take at least a ten-minute walk outdoors every day (mental part) and climb three “spans” of stairs (physical, cardiovascular part). This is extremely important. Because it not only oxygenates the brain but also stimulates the production of hormones linked to well-being, strengthens your heart, increases immunity and eliminates some calories.

Work on emotions. Accept that you have emotions and don't disregard them. See exercises to work on them and try them out. Emotions are energy. Do not overpress them as they cause damage to the body.

Don't choose solitude. Try to socialize. This will also help a lot, as long as it is with the right people.

Get a part time . Venture out to discover what might give you some pleasure outside of work. Even if it's by taking one of the many free online courses.

Practice yoga , meditation, mindfulness , reiki or any other practice that encourages calm, tranquility, gratitude, acceptance, etc.

Don't neglect your health. It is the greatest asset we have. If you recognize many of the symptoms listed in this article, don't wait any longer and look for a competent professional for this purpose. We are with you. Stay strong, everything will be fine.


Vanda do Nascimento is a therapist, trainer and Mindfulness instructor at the Escola de Mindfulness Essencial , founded by her in 2016. She began her career as a teacher in 1997, obtaining a degree in Education. On that same date, he also began his studies in Reiki, Meditation and Mindfulness. Later, he embarked on the path of Psychology and delved even deeper into the topic of Mindfulness, in order to continue his fight to control stress and anxiety.

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