Eric Bakker - Are You Heading for Burn-Out? (Part One)
Read more from Eric Bakker ND
Read Part Two here.
Hotels and restaurants, and education lead the field in burn-out. One in ten workers suffer from burn-out. In the hotel and restaurant sector the proportion of people suffering from burn-out has increased substantially. Burn-out symptoms are most common among people working in education and those working in hospitality industry it seems. In both sectors around one in seven workers suffer from burn-out. Pressure of work, no control over their own work and a bad work atmosphere all increase the chance of a worker suffering from burn-out.
The actual physical burden of work is not related to burn-out. High pressure of work increases the risk of workers suffering from burn-out threefold, compared with workers who have little or no pressure of work. Workers who have no say in their own work have a three and a half times greater chance of suffering from burn-out as people who do have a say in their work. Moreover, working in an indifferent or unfriendly atmosphere doubles the chance of burn-out.
Burn-out is characterised by extreme tiredness and feelings of exhaustion
(Read below, the "disillusionment phase" of stress). These symptoms are sometimes called emotional exhaustion. There is what is called the Permanent Life Situation Survey, an annual survey among around ten thousand people in Holland. Every year some three thousand people are asked about burn-out symptoms. Regardless of the fact that the survey is conducted in the Netherlands, it might as well be London, New York, Paris, Auckland or Sydney - the stress of life in this crazy 21st Century globally is virtually the same. All too many patients I have seen the past few years are showing signs of burn-out, and many are so busy with life that they aren’t even aware themselves!. Burn out is a stage of stress that many of us potentially go through at different stages of our lives, and it can happen to a university student, a mother with young or teenage children, a school teacher, a businessman, in fact any busy person can slide into a burn out phase during a busy or hectic period of their lives.
Let me paint a picture of burnout for you.
Here is the scene of a lady I recently saw as a patient who emigrated from America to New Zealand to start a new life with her husband and their three children. Jill and her husband work almost full time as well as trying to raise a family. They bought a house cleaning franchise to build sufficient income to support a growing family, and Jill does some cleaning as well as all the book keeping, in addition to the household chores. It is 3 in the morning and Jill is tossing and turning in bed, fighting with her pillow. She has had sleeping problems for the past nine months, ever since moving to NZ from California. She has been pacing the kitchen and dining room, and having imaginary conversations with her husband, even drafting an imaginary letter of resignation from her job, fighting a sense of outrage and inadequacy and worrying about your lack of interest in your allotted tasks and lack of care for your children.
Jill has recently been arguing a lot with her husband due to his desires yet her complete lack of interest in sex, as well as concerns about her husband’s increase in alcohol consumption. Jill was recommended to try an anti-depressant by her doctor, and was also recommended a sleeping pill. By the time Jill had seen me as a patient, she was on the verge of marital separation and extremely tired and well and truly burnt-out to say the least. Do you recognise any of the above, you could be suffering from a case serious burnout like Jill, and you will need to take action before this ends in heart failure, cancer, a stroke ……….or even murder! Unless you have been living under a rock the past ten years, you will have noticed that many people seem to be "flipping" out these past few years. It is incredible how many violent altercations are happening on our highways, in our schools, in our families. It is called stress. Can you imaging the stress and burnout with regard to our fine law enforcement officers world wide? Stress does funny things to people, some react unpredictable, others just "clam up" whereas others become hostile, aggressive and extremely violent.
Burn-Out Health Check Be totally honest - yes or no?
- I often feel sad, not much seems to interest me anymore.
- My friends are all having fun, but my relationships seem empty or worthless.
- I feel tired even when I have had my normal eight hours of sleep, and can wake up exhausted.
- I am bored with my work and have difficulty concentrating, my memory is "shot".
- I carry too much responsibility, I am finding it hard to cope with my job.
- I have got to a point where other peoples’ needs don’t concern me, my fuse is getting shorter.
- I feel emotionally empty at the end of a normal working day.
- My workload is far too heavy to do properly.
- I do not feel as sensitive as I used to feel, I am more snappy and critical.
- Sex is the last thing on my mind, my partner says yes and I say no.
- I often worry about my ability to do my job after hours.
- I get headaches or tight muscles in my neck, shoulders or upper back.
- My boss has completely unrealistic expectations of me.
- I often drink or eat too much, I love chocolate, sweet foods or salty snacks like chips.
- I am often ill and always seem to be "coming down" with the latest germs doing the rounds.
- I wake up in the morning dreading the thought of going to work, at times I even "hate" my life.
- I am no longer interested in social activities and rarely go out.
- I have problems if I miss a meal or don’t eat on time.
- I stay up too late and work or play games on the computer.
- I am drinking more alcohol than I used to, or drinking several nights a week.
- I am often depressed on Sunday evenings.
- Life generally seems pointless to me.
- There is not much in life I look forward to.
- I take less care of my appearance than I used to, I seem to be ageing so fast lately!
- My family constantly complains about not seeing enough of me.
- I spend a lot of time watching TV when I am not at work.
If you have answered ‘yes’ to even five of these, you could be on the way to burnout. Take action before it is too late.