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What is Burnout?

Burnout is a term used in psychology which refers to the state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It is a condition which usually affects professionals in high-pressure jobs. Additionally, people who find themselves in certain situations which continually spark tension, or in roles which they have been fulfilling over a long period of time, also experience burnout at some point. It is characterized by fatigue or lack of energy, depression, a diminishing or diminished interest in a particular subject or object, and a lack of motivation. Oftentimes, these feelings are accompanied by physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, palpitations, and chest pains.

Burnout is caused primarily by prolonged stress. Generally, people who have a tendency to become extremely competitive, take things very seriously or get strongly affected emotionally will sooner or later find themselves losing their inner spark. On the other hand, although some people may not possess these characteristics at the beginning, they may develop them over time, and end up feeling burned out anyway. Most professionals who work in a high pressure environment, whose jobs are demanding and require much attention and dedication, are particularly prone: long work hours and unhealthy sleeping and eating habits shall take their toll. Doctors, teachers, policemen, social workers and lawyers are potential candidates to this condition.

Parenting and housekeeping, while mundane, can also lead to burnout, because routine tasks and a lack of variety combined can trigger stress. Being in a rocky relationship usually involves suppressing emotions and other psychological issues, which can cause stress and eventually result in burnout as well.

In fact, burnout is considered a part of everyday living, and one which no one can escape. However, depending on one’s preference, there are ways to resolve this or avoid it altogether.

Prescription drugs can address the physical and psychological effects such as the headaches and depression that come with burnout. Sedatives, anti-depressants and pain relievers are helpful, but they offer only temporary relief.

The best cure for burnout would be to confront the problem at its source. If it is from work, take time off. If it stems from a bad relationship, try to communicate and ask for understanding. If it’s because of household routine, take up a hobby or outside activity.

However, it is still a lot better to start doing all these – taking a break, doing something different and fun, practicing effective communication – before burnout occurs. Make it a habit to separate yourself for a while from your work, family and relationships to give time for yourself and put things in perspective. And be sure to eat the right food and exercise regularly and do relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation, so that both your body and mind will be more tolerant to stress.

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