Beyond Burnout – Journey to Renewal and Resilience

Apr 1, 2024 | Toolbox

Identifying, understanding and addressing burnout can lead to renewed work and personal lives.

By Carlos Barboza

A couple of months ago, I started to notice physical exhaustion. I thought it was only due to the several activities that I was dealing every week such as being an owner, entrepreneur, father, spouse, sports, music, and so forth.

I thought it was just tiredness and it would go away with a good night’s sleep or it was just a “temporary stress moment,” but even after taking a vacation or getting a good night’s sleep, it was the same feeling. Then, I realized I didn’t add my mental situation into the equation. After several researches, I discovered that I was probably in a “burnout” stage.

In recent years, the term “burnout” has become increasingly prevalent in discussions surrounding mental health and well-being. Coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, burnout was initially associated with high-stress professions such as healthcare and social work. However, in today’s society, burnout has transcended occupational boundaries to become a widespread phenomenon affecting individuals from all walks of life.

We are living in today’s fast-paced world, and burnout is more than just feeling tired or stressed; it’s a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion that can have profound effects on one’s well-being and productivity.

Signs and symptoms of burnout may include: fatigue, headaches, frequent illness, cynicism, helplessness, sense of failure or self-doubt, decreased satisfaction, feeling detached or alone in the world, loss of motivation, isolation, procrastination, outburst, etc.

Burnout is not caused solely by stressful work environments or too many responsibilities. It can be experienced by anyone with prolonged levels of chronic stress and pressure causing a feeling of being overwhelmed by work or home demands. It’s also a lack of work-life balance and/or unclear expectations, even a lack of recognition and reward.

The Burnout Society, written by Korean-born German philosopher Byung-Chul Han, mentions the burnout society can be characterized by a pervasive sense of exhaustion, disillusionment, and disengagement among its members. In this hyper-connected world driven by productivity and performance, individuals are constantly bombarded with demands and expectations, both in the workplace and in their personal lives. The pressure to excel, coupled with the fear of failure and the relentless pursuit of success, has created a breeding ground for burnout. Han added other causes of burnout in modern society such as workplace culture, technological overload, consumerism and materialism, and social comparison.

Therefore, if we just add a little of all of these causes that I mentioned, this will contribute to anxiety, depression, individuals feeling empty, chronic stress and ultimately, burnout.

So, how to address this burnout epidemic? Once I realized that I was under a burnout situation, I reinforced a couple attitudes that worked for me, and of course, adding new personal and business strategies (and still working on it):

WORKPLACE POLICIES. Employers play a crucial role in preventing burnout by implementing policies that promote work-life balance, flexibility, and supportive work environments. This may include offering flexible working hours, promoting open communication, and providing access to mental health resources.

SELF-CARE PRACTICES. You must prioritize self-care and make time for activities that nourish your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This may include mindfulness practices, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and fostering meaningful connections with others. Do you know that a 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours? Take a walk.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT. Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress and talking face-to-face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Whether through friends, family, or support groups, having a network of people who understand and validate one’s experiences can provide invaluable support during challenging times.

SET BOUNDARIES. It’s good to say “no” sometimes. Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Designate specific times for work and leisure activities, and resist the urge to check work emails or messages outside of designated hours.

DELEGATE AND PRIORITIZE. Learn to delegate tasks and prioritize your workload to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Focus on completing high-priority tasks first and delegate or postpone less urgent tasks when necessary.

TAKE REGULAR BREAKS. Incorporate regular breaks into your day to rest and recharge. Step away from your desk, go for a short walk, or practice deep breathing exercises to reduce stress and increase productivity.

LIMIT YOUR CONTACT WITH NEGATIVE PEOPLE. Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you spend together.

THE POWER OF GIVING. Being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure and can help to significantly reduce stress as well as broaden your social circle. Keep in mind this question: What’s your legacy?

REEVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES OR REASSESS YOUR GOALS. It’s a good sign when you recognize you have a problem. Start by identifying your values and thinking about what gives you meaning in your work. This can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to slow down and give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.

LIVE NEW EXPERIENCES. For example, I have a plan of new activities for the next six months, such as visiting new places, a list of new restaurants, learning new hobbies, even scheduling meetings with good old friends.

Recovery from burnout is a slow journey; not a quick dash to some imaginary finish line. You need time and space to recuperate, so don’t rush through this process. You deserve to celebrate even small accomplishments. These celebrations can help you rediscover joy and meaning in your work again.

While burnout is often perceived as a negative experience, it can serve as a powerful catalyst for personal growth, self-awareness, and resilience. By reframing burnout as an opportunity for reflection and renewal, individuals can harness its transformative potential to cultivate greater well-being and fulfillment in their lives.

Embracing burnout as a catalyst for positive change empowers individuals to navigate life’s challenges with resilience, optimism, and a renewed sense of purpose. I’ll end up with this quote from Dalai Lama XIV: “In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” Blessings.

Carlos Barboza Furzan is the owner of Eco Green Auto Parts, Orlando FL. Their website is https://ecogautoparts.com and they can be found on Facebook @ecogreenautoparts.

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