Main Street the Business to Business Magazine

Workplace Relationships - by Dr. Bill Austin


Some of us may be experiencing burnout in our careers. We find ourselves feeling ineffective at work. There is a sense that we are not successful. We feel tired and detached from work and from others. We may find ourselves sitting in front of the television and not even know what is on the screen. Burnout doesn't happen suddenly. It creeps up on us like a slow leak.

Burnout happens for several reasons. One of the reasons for some of us is that we have a difficult time saying no. The result is that we are overwhelmed with too many things to do and with too many loose ends. Another reason is that we don't trust others to do the job. They won't do it correctly (which means they will not do it the way we do it). We might find ourselves saying, "I'm the only one who can do this job." Another reason is that we never take a break from our work. Even when we are not physically at work, our mind is. Some of us will not even take a vacation or time off. Our career consumes us.

In order to deal with burnout, we need to know the symptoms. The symptoms are found in three areas:

1) physical and emotional exhaustion;

2) cynicism and detachment;

3) ineffectiveness and lack of achievement.

We will examine each area in this series along with how to deal with burnout.

Let's examine at the first symptom: physical and emotional exhaustion. We are exhausted in the following ways as listed in most burnout material:

1. Chronic fatigue: in the early stages, you may feel a lack energy and feel tired most days. In the latter stages, you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, drained, and depleted, and you may feel a sense of dread for what lies ahead on any given day.

2. Insomnia: in the early stages, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep one or two nights a week. In the latter stages, insomnia may turn into a persistent, nightly ordeal; as exhausted as you are, you can't sleep.

3. Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention: lack of focus and mild forgetfulness are early signs. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can't get your work done and everything begins to pile up.

4. Physical symptoms: physical symptoms may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, dizziness, fainting, and/or headaches.

Next time, we will continue to examine the ways we get exhausted physically and emotionally.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700

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