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COMMON SIGNS OF BURNOUT
Dr. Beverly Potter
Negative emotionsIt's normal to feel frustrated, angry, depressed, dissatisfied or anxious occasionally. But if you're caught in the burnout cycle, you usually will experience these negative emotions more and more often, until they become chronic. Eventually, you will feel emotional fatigue.Interpersonal problemsWhen you feel emotionally drained, it becomes harder to deal with people at work and at home. When the inevitable conflicts arise, you're likely to overreact with an emotional outburst or intense hostility. This makes communicating with co-workers, friends and family members increasingly difficult. Some burnout victims are also apt to withdraw socially. The tendency to withdraw is most pronounced among "helping" professionals, who often become aloof and inaccessible to the very people they are expected to help.Health problemsAs your emotional reserves become depleted and the quality of your relationships deteriorate, your physical resilience declines. You may frequently experience minor ailments, such as colds, headaches, insomnia and backaches. In general, you feel tired and rundown.Below-par performanceDuring the burnout process, you may become bored with your job or lose enthusiasm for your projects. Or you may find it difficult to concentrate. You become less productive and the quality of your work declines.Substance abuseTo cope with the stress associated with job conflict and declining performance, you may find yourself drinking more alcohol, using more drugs, eating more (or less), drinking more coffee and/or smoking more cigarettes. Increased substance abuse further compounds your problems.Feelings of meaninglessnessMore and more, you find yourself thinking "so what" and "why bother?" This is particularly common among burnout victims who were once very enthusiastic and dedicated. Your enthusiasm is replaced by cynicism. Working seems pointless.
From OVERCOMING JOB BURNOUT: HOW TO RENEW ENTHUSIASM FOR WORK by Dr. Beverly Potter, published by Ronin Publishing, 1998, $14.95. Copyright 1993, 1998: Beverly A. Potter.
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