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Exactly how and why do people get burned out. I know people can get fed up with something over time but some jobs make people physically ill, or even mentally ill. About 10 years ago I got sick for a month after working at a job for over a year. It was a great job and I enjoyed it even though it was a lot of work. Since around then though, I've noticed that I just can't handle stress the way I used to. I am wondering if I really did get burned out. If so I never saw it coming. Is that possible?


Dear Jerry,

People burn out for variety of reasons. The most widely recognized is when their work exposes them to individuals who are experiencing physical and emotional suffering, e.g. hospitals, mental health clinics, foster care systems. Working daily with people in pain seeps into our hearts and souls and overtime affect our emotional and physical health. The best way to avoid burnout is by releasing some of the energy that builds up in you. Good institutions provide a setting for their employees to talk about their experiences and feelings. If an institution does not provide this type of debriefing, it is essential that one finds his/her own outlets, either with a friend, a spouse or a colleague.

It is not unusual for you not to have known what is going on with you. Burnout builds slowly overtime, leaving individuals unaware that they are experiencing any difficulties. This is analogous to the frog phenomena. If you put a frog in boiling pot of water, it will immediately leap out. However, if you put it in a cold pot of water and gradually heat the kettle until it boils, the frog will not realize what is going on until it is too late. We habituate to situations and by the time we appreciate how it affects us, it may have already detrimentally impacted our bodies and our souls.

Another reason, generally not as well known, people burn out is when they are working in a setting that is bureaucratic and does not fulfill the mission of its organization. Any job where people go in with an ideal that they can make a difference and then find their institution unresponsive, will cause the individual to feel burnout. We see this most often with cops or social workers who work in overwhelming or dysfunctional systems.

Individuals may also burnout from a job that is monotonous and unstimulating. Doing the same thing over and over everyday causes boredom and creates automated human beings. Change and challenges are important if we want to stay engaged and interested.

Finally, people may burn out if they work at a setting that does not acknowledge their efforts and successes. People like to feel that their supervisors or customers appreciate their hard work. When they don't receive some positive regard, they may think no one cares and slack off on their jobs.

I hope you are now working in a stimulating, productive and supportive environment.



What you wrote makes sense, you want someone who is deaicdted and passionate about their career, but you can outsource to American virtual assistants and get all of those great qualities as well. Outsourcing doesn't have to mean overseas.


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