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Are You Burning Out?

By Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D.

Burnout Picture

Burnout is subtle. It creeps up on you slowly. How do you know if you are burning out?

I know well the face of burnout. I found myself questioning my motives, feeling guilty, and being greatly misunderstood. Sometimes I was shamed …

8 Comments to
Are You Burning Out?

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  1. Great article!

  2. How does one recover from burnout? How does one establish firm boundaries?

  3. Recovery from burnout can be a little complex. I’ll try to give you a simple and quick answer without writing another article. Now that’s an idea!

    Things to do to recover from burnout:

    1. Change what you do that saps you in your work. Example: If you get sapped from doing administrative work then try to delegate that and work more directly on either projects if you are a project person or with people if you are a people person.

    2. Change your routine regularly to counteract boredom.

    3. Take breaks or even restful vacations to relax and recharge. Take them as regularly as you need them.

    4. Stay out of office politics which can be highly stressful.

    5. Learn how to do relaxation exercises and/or listen to invigorating and inspiring music versus music that drains you with negativism.

    6. Experiment doing things that cause you to stretch: do art, go skydiving, hike, do a 10k, help in a soup kitchen, mentor youth, learn how to dance, get a hobby, etc.

    7. Have safe and caring friends outside of your work. This will nurture you.

    8. Learn to say yes and no. Test people to determine if they are safe and worthy of your trust. The controllers/abusers/opportunists are to be kept at a distance for protection. The people who reciprocate and return your kindness are the ones that you increasingly can begin to trust.

    9. Do regular exercise (endorphins make you feel good!).

    10. If all fails, then change your job or work, do a career change (go to back to school) or retire if you have the resources.

    Hope this helps.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  4. There are those of us that cannot change our circumstances. Your advice above was poor. I am 51 years old and work as an Administrative Assistant. Going back to school is out of the question. I am beyond burnout and afraid of what may be my outcome. Breaks? talk to my boss, they are not part of the package. I get about 20 minutes a day if lucky. Vacations costs money. A PHD most likely does not experience such circumstances, but should be aware of what it’s like out here in the real word.

  5. “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.”
    Henry Ford

    After losing my career of 25 years and coming up with no finances, no insurance, losing all my friends, a family of five to support, almost losing my house three times, working in full time jobs I disliked and going to grad school simultaneously full time (in my late forties) for 7 years and being extremely exhausted all the time, with many setbacks along the way, graduating in my fifties, I was able to get a Masters and a Ph.D. with “blood, sweat, and tears.” I am most thankful for my apparent misfortune that was a blessing in disguise.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

  6. Please do not give up.I had 3 severly spsychiatric episodes in my life, no I never used drugs, alcohol or smoke,in fact I was a vegetarian and very religious person which I am not anymore .I am 50 now, to the point were I forgot how to read and write and was not able to talk and in 2007 I graduated with an MBA and I am going for a seconde Masters degree as a physician assistant because before my illness I was going to go to medical school but those clouds got on my way. I am a single mother of two and live on $600 after rent and car payment.And precisely for this reason I did the numbers and a salary of an MBA will not pay enough to pay back my student loans so I will hope to achive my dream.

  7. Well said, Sam.

  8. I am absolutely sick of people who say things like, “… DR. … come live in the real world” . Why is it that so many believe that the people who worked hard toward something that is actually rewarding (financially or otherwise)were handed their success on a silver platter. Stop your whining and do something! Otherwise let us continue doing all of the hard and stressful work.

  9. I want to comment on Dr. Sam’s comment about how hard he worked to get where he is. I have experienced similar situations, but I haven’t reached my goal yet. I am stuck in a dead-end job that is also very secure, so I am afraid to leap. I have one Masters degree, found out I am making more money now that I would in my field, so now I am going for a 2nd Masters degree, hoping that i will be able to advance within my current job. I have struggled tremendously along the way, and I wonder many many times whether it has been worth the effort. I have suffered through a divorce, losing my home, losing my mother, losing my car, and losing my health. I am burnt to a crisp; and yet, there is something inside that just won’t let go.I can’t give up, I just can’t. I have three daughters who look up to me, and I have always tried to be a good role model for them.
    I honestly don’t know where my journey will end, but I know for sure that I have an Angel watching over me.

  10. I have been a very “good” codependent and have exhausted myself with family, friends, work etc. through the years and I’ve learned a great deal about setting limits. I have my work under control, my friendships (very limited but healthy ones now) but my family my siblings especially, are draining the life out of me. My mother asked me as a young girl to look out for my brothers and sisters.(I’m next to the youngest but the most capable of living in the “real” world.) I said Yes but now want/must say NO. I know that was unfair of her to expect me to do this. Yet when a problem arises (which is so often in my family of origin), I have this stupid message “look out for your brother/sister” running in my head. Yesterday my brother tells me he wants a sex change………..I should of seen that coming, he’s mental disabled, wearing womens clothes, etc. ostrasized from the family, yet I keep giving him moral support but I think this time I’ve reached my limit. I don’t want to give any support, moral, financial, any attention………I’m wiped. How do I get that stupid “look out for your brother/sister” tape out of my head??? For my own mental health I need to get rid of the guilty feelings this phrases causes if I don’t respond accordingly.

  11. Gale,

    You basically asked how to your overcome co-dependency. There are a variety of approaches. Some are slower or take “forever” and others are fairly quick. Of course, I believe that the methodology I use is among the fastest.

    Without going into a lot of specifics, I primarily find the place or places where you decided to become a co-dependent person and decided to take on the role of a “world savior.” I then have many ways of neutralizing that decision through many kinds of reframes possible. This is alike a “re-coding” so that you have a better way of processing people in your life.

    One classic book on the subject is Melody Beatie’s book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Codependent-No-More-Beyond-Codependency/dp/1567312187

    Another very good one is by Townsend and Cloud called “Boundaries.” Go to:

    http://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-Participants-GuideRevised-When-Control/dp/0310278082/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239894162&sr=1-1

    I also recommend their book on “Safe People.” See http://www.amazon.com/Safe-People-Relationships-Avoid-Those/dp/0310210844/ref=pd_sim_b_4

    Hope this helps.

    Samuel Lopez De Victoria, Ph.D.
    http://www.DrSam.tv

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