Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Boundaries & Burnout

Ok. Boundaries (see previous posts here and here). We're each in charge of our own thoughts, our own feelings, and our own actions. Having healthy and appropriate boundaries can help us keep balance in our lives, and can help prevent us from getting burned out in our life, our relationship, or our careers.
As counselors (or other people who fall into the helping professions), burnout is a very real threat. However, this can hit each of us. Unless we watch out for it, it can creep up on us without us realizing what's happening. That's why education & awareness is so crucial!
We hear the word "burnout" often, but we often struggle to gain a firm idea of what is actually is, and how this changes us.

Burnout is a “psychological syndrome” characterized by “emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced feelings of personal accomplishment, typically attributed to work environment or job choice” (Bakker, Van Der Zee, Lewig, & Dollard, 2006; Venart, 2008). Basically, you're worn out and exhausted. 
Below is a list of causes (
Work-related causes of burnout
Feeling like you have little or no control over your work.  
Lack of recognition or rewards for good work.
Unclear or overly demanding job expectations.
Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging.
Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment
Lifestyle causes of burnout
Working too much, without enough time for relaxing and socializing
Being expected to be too many things to too many people.
Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others
Not getting enough sleep
Lack of close, supportive relationships
Personality traits can contribute to burnout
Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough
Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
High-achieving, Type A personality

And here are some Signs & Symptoms:

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout
·      Feeling tired & drained most of the time
·      Lowered immunity, feeling sick a lot
·      Frequent headaches, back pain, muscle aches
·      Change in appetite or sleep habits
Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout
·      Sense of failure & self-doubt
·      Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
·      Detachment, feeling alone in the world
·      Loss of motivation
·      Increasingly cynically and negative outlook
·      Decreased satisfaction & sense of accomplishment
Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout
·      Withdrawing from responsibilities
·      Isolating yourself from others
·      Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
·      Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
·      Taking out your frustrations on others
·      Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

See how having boundaries will help prevent burnout? Boundaries help to guard us from the outside world, help us say yes to the good, and no to the bad. It tells us what falls under our responsibility, and what isn't our responsibility. 

Evaluate yourself and see if you are, or are becoming, a burned out person. Tomorrow we'll discuss prevention:)

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