Coping with Stress and Avoiding Burnout

Today’s blog post is written by a featured guest, Ryan McBurney:

The phenomenon of ‘burnout’ is a psychological syndrome that results in mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion that deteriorates your work productivity and performance. Burnout is a consequence of a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job.

Now, with that said, I am sure we can all relate to times where we have experienced theses symptoms. The phenomenon of burnout is not specific to the typical 9-5 office job but can be seen in all different types of fields of work, studies, sports, and even hobbies. Burnout can be commonly seen in athletes by overtraining for their sport, in students by over-studying for their university exams, etc.

There are three main dimensions that play a role in burnout:

  1. Overwhelming exhaustion.
  2. Feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job.
  3. A sense of professional inefficacy and a lack of accomplishment.

Hindering all three of these dimensions results in the negative psychological state experienced by those who are burnt-out.

Although the specific causes of burnout are going to be unique to each individual and their situation, there has been 6 risk factors identified by Leiter & Maslach, 2016:

  1. Work overload.
  2. Lack of control over work.
  3. Insufficient rewards/recognition.
  4. Inadequate sense of community in the workplace (poor relationships with co-workers).
  5. Fairness of the work.
  6. Values (job goals and expectations).

The negative outcomes of burnout will again be dependant on your situation and will fluctuate in terms of severity. Common outcomes of burnout are job withdrawal, job dissatisfaction, greater personal conflict, and various detrimental health complications such as headaches, chronic fatigue, hypertension, etc.  

For those who find themselves experiencing the symptoms of burnout, the best way to recover is to simply take some time off and recharge.

So, how do we stay productive without experiencing burnout? The following techniques have been found to reduce work-related stress, and subsequently the chances of experiencing burnout: Training in goal setting, problem resolution, time management, aerobic exercise, relaxation techniques (this can include mindfulness practice), and coping in general (Hudson, Flannery-Schroeder, & Kendall, 2004).

Next time you find yourself with an abundance of work to finish, practice these techniques and ensure you find the time to take breaks and prioritize your health. Slow and steady wins the race.


If you liked this post, read up on Ryan’s previous guest blog for Mindfulness by Paula on Cultivating Optimism here!

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