Work is important, but so is healthy self care.
Burnout syndrome consists of work-related stress evolving into a habitual state of chronic stress. This syndrome is characterized by progressive physical and mental exhaustion, a complete lack of motivation regarding one’s work duties, and especially by important changes in behavior of those who suffer from it.
The symptoms of burnout syndrome are very similar to the symptoms associated with work-related stress in general; however, in the case of burnout, these symptoms are more intense, especially in the area of changes to behavior or character. Let’s look at some of the emotional and physical symptoms:
1. Emotional symptoms
Mood changes: These are the principal symptoms of burnout syndrome. A worker suffering from burnout is often irritable and in a bad mood. In many cases, his manners disappear, and he creates unnecessary conflicts with clients. Suspicion, defensiveness and sarcasm frequently become habitual. In some cases, however, this change of attitude takes a totally different form: the worker simply shows indifference towards clients, and even towards his coworkers.
Lack of motivation: The worker loses all interest in working. Goals and objectives give way to discouragement and to the oppressive thought of having to support stressful situations that are beyond his ability to handle, day after day; and every work day seems long and interminable.
Mental exhaustion: Burnout gradually wears a person down, reducing bit by bit his resistance to stress, such that his mind has to work harder and harder to face stress-causing factors.
Lack of energy and diminished performance: This is a logical consequence of the previous point. Since the person manages his internal resources poorly, his capacity for productivity diminishes, and his performance declines. Furthermore, every drawn-out situation of work-related stress results in cognitive deterioration over the medium and long term, which can manifest itself in memory loss, lack of concentration, and greater difficulty in learning new skills or learning how to carry out new tasks.
2. Physical symptoms
Burnout syndrome doesn’t only affect us on a psychological level; its effects on a physical level can be very harmful to our health. Among the physical symptoms it causes, we may see:
Effects on the musculoskeletal system: Sufferers of this syndrome often experience muscle and joint pain resulting from the tension created by work-related stress, which often provokes muscle contractions.
Various psychosomatic symptoms: People with burnout often suffer from gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, skin conditions, headaches, dizziness, alterations to their sexual appetite, and a greater risk of obesity.
For these reasons, it is of fundamental importance that we take care of both our physical and psychological health, so that our quality of life will not be affected. It is consequently vital that everyone make an effort in the workplace to create a positive climate of collaboration that stimulates greater productivity without compromising workers’ health and serenity.