Burnout: Emotional Exhaustion and Self-regulatory Goal Attainment

Topics: Emotional exhaustion, Burnout, Stress Pages: 5 (1638 words) Published: April 22, 2007
You have a hundred things to do… by tomorrow, the pressure is mounting, expectations are high, and the phone won't quit ringing. Are you headed towards burnout? It is quite possible. Most people have an idea of what burnout is. You dread going to work. You go through your day feeling numb. You have lost your enthusiasm for your job. And you continually feel tired, stressed and drained of energy. If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from burnout. Burnout is on the rise in modern society resulting in poor performance and health. Maslach and Leiter (1997) define burnout as "the index of the dislocation between what people are and what they have to do. It represents erosion in values, dignity, spirit and will—an erosion of the human soul." (Leiter, pg. 17) Simply put, burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It can occur when you feel overwhelmed. As the stress continues you begin to lose interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place. Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly hopeless, powerless, cynical and resentful. The unhappiness it causes can threaten your job, relationships and your health. Backed by solid research data, Leiter and Maslach (1997) assert that burnout is not a matter of weakness or poor attitudes of individual employees. Rather it is a problem of the social environment in the work place caused by "major mismatches" between the nature of the person doing a job and the nature of the job itself. The greater the mismatch, the greater the potential is for burnout.

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Burnout is not a short term problem that starts on Monday and ends by lunch on Tuesday. It is a gradual escalation of work-related issues that results in the feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Symptoms progress gradually and include exhaustion, cynical detachment, feelings of ineffectiveness, short temper and health problems such as tension headaches or backaches. Burnout can affect the body directly. It can affect the heart as well as the coping mechanisms necessary to cope with illnesses. (Burnout: Physical Effects, 2007) Psychology Professor Samuel Melamed PhD (2006) explained that "there is an increased recognition in the literature that inflammatory processes are central to the pathogenesis of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer." (Bailey, pg.11) So how do you know when you or someone you love is suffering from burnout? Here are some of the early signs: 1.Chronic fatigue, exhaustion, tiredness and a sense of being physically run down 2.Anger at those making demands

3.Self-criticism for putting up with the demands
4.Cynicism, negativity and irritability
5.A sense of being besieged
6.Exploding easily at inconsequential things
7.Frequent headaches, backaches and gastrointestinal disturbances 8.Weight loss or gain
9.Sleeplessness and depression
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10.Shortness of breath
12.Feelings of hopelessness
13.Increased degree of risk taking
Most of us have days when we're bored with what we do at work; when our work goes unnoticed, let alone rewarded; when dragging ourselves into work-requires work and when caring about work seems like a waste of energy. We all have bad days at work, however, when everyday is bad, you are flirting with burnout. Most burnout has to do with the workplace. Those most at risk may be service professionals, who spend their lives attending to the needs of others. However, no one is immune from burnout. Anyone person, in any one profession at any level can become a candidate for burnout. What causes burnout? Burnout can result from lack of appreciate, unclear expectations, workload, multiple roles, unrealistic goals and poor job fit. Leiter and Maslach (2005) have drawn upon their extensive experience studying the so-called "helping professions". They tend to...
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