Many of the clients I counsel for burnout are high achievers that have found considerable success in their fields, largely because they are so dedicated to their work and committed to continuously doing well.
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the 12-Stage Burnout Symptom Cycle, which was first coined by Dr. Herbert Freudenberger. Freudenberger referred to the second stage of burnout as Intensity. Psychologist Joan Borysenko describes this second stage in her book, “Fried,” as Working Like a Maniac.
Workplace burnout often affects people who are idealists, perfectionists and workaholics. They are accustomed to working straight through lunch, eating at their desks, or stepping out for only a quick bite. Many of my clients believe that they absolutely cannot take the time out of their workday for a break, and to recharge. These clients are also programmed to work long hours, take on intense workloads, and commit to deadlines others consider unreasonable.
By Stage 7 of the 12-Stage Burnout Symptom Cycle (called Disengagement by Freudenberger), the individual has become Emotionally Exhausted and Disengaged, according to Borysenko. Clients that I have counselled in these circumstances say they feel disillusioned, or cynical. They also find it difficult to concentrate sufficiently to produce the quality of work they have in the past.
If you think you may be at risk for workplace burnout, or can identify with the early stages of the 12-Stage Burnout Symptom Cycle, you may want to read an earlier blog I posted that outlines some simple changes you can try.
Research shows that taking breaks and working set hours actually increases productivity, and that working more than 48 hours a week decreases productivity. It is not surprising that exhausted, poorly fed, overextended workers do not produce as much as those who take care of their physical, emotional and mental needs.