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What is Burnout and How Do I Know I Have It?


Hi everyone. I’m Kayla, The Millennial Therapist and owner of Reclaiming Stories Therapy and today I’m going to talk to you about what burnout is and how we can know if we have burnout or not. So let’s get into it. Um, as usual, I have some notes in front of me that I’m going to be glancing at to make sure that I give you all the good information that I want to provide and to kind of keep my video going. Um, and I wanted to acknowledge that all, most of all, the information that I’m giving you is from this amazing book called Burnout. Um, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle is an amazing book written by Emily and her sister, Amelia Nagoski. Um, and Emily is a researcher and has been in our field for a very long time. So, um, she, one of my favorites to go to, so I highly recommend this book, if you want to go out there and read it.

Um, so what is burnout? I’m going to read some definitions and kind of talk about it. So, um, the term was coined by this guy called Herbert Freudenberger, um, in 1975, um, and it’s comprised of three different components. Um, and this definition is broadened a little bit to both like taking care of people and being in the workplace. I think this is just kind of an overall definition of burnout that can kind of pertain to any, um, aspect of your life. Um, and then I’m going to be going over another definition that was, um, laid out by the World Health Organization (WHO), um, about specifically workplace burnout. So this definition by Herbert Freudenberger, um, goes with first emotional exhaustion. Um, so fatigue that comes from caring too much. Um, when you have just put all this emotional energy and investment in something, um, and you’re still, you know, not really getting a lot out of it.

Um, then we start to see burnout. Another one is depersonalization. So is the depletion of the empathy of caring and compassion. Um, and we see this a lot, like in my field, which we call compassion fatigue, um, or in like the medical field or in caregiving, like in-home caregiving, um, when you’re just are so depleted that you start to lose that empathy and that care that you may have had before. Um, and then the last one is the decreased sense of accomplishment. Um, so it’s kind of like, no matter what you do, you feel like you can’t get to the point that you were really wanting, um, and something that Emily and Amelia point out is this idea that we get frustrated when our progress towards our goal feels more effortful, um, or we have to put more effort into it than we expected. So a good example of mine would be, you know, creating my own business, starting my own business.

I thought, “Oh, you know, I, I know how to do it. So many people have done it before me. Like, I know it’s going to be challenging because starting a business is always challenging, but you know, I’m going to make it here within this amount of time. I’m gonna make it here within this amount of time.” Boy, can I tell ya that is not exactly how it’s gone. Still doing well, I’m still moving and groovin’, but definitely was not quite as I expected and it’s been a lot more work than I expected. And so I’ve definitely felt that feeling of like, “Oh my gosh, I’m putting so much more effort into this than I feel like I’m getting out of it right now.” Um, so those are the three kind of core components of burnout in this definition. So the who definition, um, or diagnosis of burnout, because it’s actually in, um, one of the books that we as therapists use to diagnose now, and hopefully I feel like should be in the next version of the DSM, um, are similar, but a little bit more tailored to working in a, um, work environment.

So first one feelings of energy, um, depletion and exhaustion, again, just being overly exhausted, overly depleted of your energy resources. Um, increase mental distance from one’s job or having negative feelings about your job. So really just feeling checked out, not really wanting to engage, um, in your job. Um, and then reduce professional efficacy. So basically not being able to perform at the level that you would normally perform at in your job. So you’re not being as productive, not getting as much stuff done as you normally would. Um, and so that’s kind of what workplace burnout looks like. And for Millennials, this is something that is very prevalent. I think, um, as jobs and technology have increased and sped up, that people are looked to, to work at like a robotic capacity where we should be on 24/7, we should be on our email 24/7, um, and just so many high expectations expected of a human being that we’re not expected in previous generations.

Um, and so I think it’s really important that we as Millennials recognize that and know that, you know, some of these big tech jobs that are out there that require a lot out of you, um, may not be the best place for you. If you can’t handle that high pressure high stress, um, and you’re feeling some of these things, it may be worth reevaluating. Like is this worth some of the repercussions that this could really have on my life and my health? Um, so with that burnout is really prevalent, not only in Millennial Techies, um, or just Millennials in general, but also in a lot of professions that involve caring. So teachers, university professors, um, humanitarian aid workers, medical professionals, therapists, people that are constantly having to put their time and effort into caring for others or doing things that, um, are very much about the wellbeing of others.

Um, those rates can look like anywhere from like 20 to like 50% of those fields are considered people that are in burnout. Um, so that’s really high and it’s really important that we look at this and start to recognize why this is happening and how we can hopefully prevent this from happening in the future. Um, so how do you know if you have burnout? So again, Emily and Amelia list out four different things that you can look for that, um, maybe signals that you are feeling burnt out. So here are some. Um, so one is noticing yourself doing like the same, um, kind of seemingly pointless things over and over again, um, or engaging in self destructive behavior. So some of an exam or some examples of that would be like checking things, a lot, picking at things like even yourself, um, having obsessive thoughts, um, fiddling with your body in a routine, routinized kind of way.

Um, so if you are… A lot of what burnout is, and I want to do another video on kind of the ins and outs of your brain and burnout. Um, but a lot of what burnout is, is us getting stuck in these stress cycles, um, that are just like when we’re in fight flight or freeze. So going back to like anxiety and stress, how our brain deals with that, and then we can get stuck in it. And we’re not able to actually do the motions of fleeing or fighting or going through this process of, um, like bringing our body kind of back online, if you will, um, from freezing that we go into this state of freeze and then we have to kind of shake our body and get it back to baseline again. Um, so when we’re stuck in this place of not being able to do these things, this is when our body starts to deteriorate and break down into burn out.

And so some of these things that we’re doing is signaling, signaling to us that our brain is stuck in this cycle. Um, another one is Chandeliering. So, um, I think this term was coined by Brené Brown. Um, but it basically just means like your reaction is not, um, comparable to whatever stimulus you were given. So whatever situation you’re in your reaction to that just goes way through the roof, um, and is not actually in line with what you were given in that situation. Um, so maybe like you come home and your spouse has made you something for dinner that you weren’t expecting, that you wanted burgers, and then you’re having fish and you just like fly off the handle and are like, “Why did you make this? I thought you were making burgers. I really was looking forward to this. This is ridiculous.” Something like that, that went from zero to a hundred very fast. Um, that’s a sign of not being able to regulate your emotions. Not being able to, um, regulate your reaction to something. Maybe having that pause before you said something, even if in your mind, you’re like, “agh”, that sometimes we can have a better understanding of like, “okay, well I can be upset, but my partner didn’t know that or, you know, maybe they had fish out and that was something easier to make them burgers.”

Well, that, um, another one is you turn into a bunny hiding in your hole or a turtle hiding in your shell. Um, basically if you are feeling like life is too hard and you’re wanting to hide away from it and not engage anymore, if you’re finding yourself staying in bed for long periods of time, or just feeling like you don’t have energy to go out and do anything, um, that is definitely a sign of burnout. Um, it can also look like numbing too, that if you’re constantly and just not trying to engage with anything, besides just like scrolling through social media or watching TV, or even, you know, drinking alcohol or taking substances like cannabis, um, those can be signals that you’re just trying to numb out and not actually engage with your feelings, um, and move through those stress cycles. And the final one is your body feels out of whack.

So this is a really, really, really important one. And I will tell you why. Um, so ways that your body could be out of whack are chronic pain, um, injuries that won’t heal, um, infections that keep coming back continuously getting sick all the time. It’s your body telling you, like I’m not working at capacity, I’m not doing the things that I’m supposed to be doing because there’s too much stress. Um, and I will tell you why this is really important is because I, myself went through this, this past year in January. Um, I won’t get into the details of it, but, um, I had a big medical event that I do think was stress-induced and I was, um, I did have to go to the hospital. Um, I went to the emergency room because there I had a fever. Um, we didn’t know what was going on.

Doctors couldn’t really figure out what was going on with me. Um, and I do think that, you know, maybe I had an underlying issue that had been going on for most of my life that I didn’t really get addressed, but it was just completely exacerbated by the stress, um, to the point where I again had a fever and was in bed for a week before, I was even able to like, figure out that, okay, I need to go to the emergency room. And, and I’m still to this day, dealing with the aftermath of that and really trying to deal with that underlying issue so that, that doesn’t happen again. But it’s also taking me, um, to really learn how to deal with my burnout and go through those stress cycles. And I still think that, um, I’m working myself through that and consistently trying to prioritize exercise and yoga and mindfulness and meditation and eating healthy and all these things that, um, it just got so bad that now I’m really like clawing my way out of it.

Um, and I’m not even done yet. So that is why that is so important. And it’s so important to pay attention to your body and understand how stress is really affecting your body. I think we just get to a point where we’re so comfortable with stress because that’s just our normal every day baseline that we don’t realize that when it hits certain levels, it is not okay. It was really, really not okay. Um, and we have to be mindful of that and really take into account, um, and prioritize taking care of ourselves. So that’s my video on burnout today. I am going to dive a little bit deeper into more of the brain stuff. Um, and then what you can do to work yourself through those stress cycles. Um, again, this book is really, really helpful read. Um, if you think that you may be experiencing burnout, um, so go get that where you get books… Off of Amazon or other resources that you have.

Um, and yeah, that’s it for burnout today. So, um, where you can find me, my website is reclaimingstoriestherapy.com. Um, if you want to inquire about my services and working with me, if you go to my contact page and fill out my fillable form, um, and I will be happy to get back to you and talk to you about how we can work together. Um, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram @reclaimingstoriestherapy. My YouTube channel is The Millennial Therapist – RS for Reclaiming Stories. Um, and those are the ways that you can get a hold of me. So until next time, take care, stay safe as always, um, deal with some of the burnout that you may be experiencing. Um, contact me if you feel like you were really struggling with that, and I’d be more than happy to work with you. Um, and that’s it for today. So until next time, take care. Bye bye.

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4141 6th Ave Suite C
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(253) 525-2424

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