“Busy-ness is our drug of choice, numbing our minds just enough to keep us from dwelling on all that we fear we can’t change. A compilation of coping mechanisms, we have become our fatigue.”
L.M. Browning, Seasons of Contemplation: A Book of Midnight Meditations
Professional burnout is sadly not uncommon. The increasing prevalence of burnout is in large part due to aggressive and demanding aspects of the modern corporate culture that have become endemic in industries such as banking and finance, law and to a degree, amongst large accountancy and audit firms. Burnout is defined by the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary as exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. Burnout is a progressive condition which, if left unchecked and not acted upon, can result in a complete breakdown of the central nervous system. It is a very dangerous and health-span reducing condition that at best blights lives and at worst can result in loss of life. The signs and symptoms of burnout are often highly visible, but they can be easy to ignore, particularly if you’re working in an aggressive corporate culture where any sign of strain might be perceived as weakness or an inability to do the job. There may also be a fear of loss of financial earnings. The symptoms of burnout are also easier to conceal if you live alone, as often the presence of a spouse, friend or family member means that you might be more likely to have a confidante, and that person will see abnormal behaviour and potentially take action.
Social psychologists Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson developed the most widely used instrument for assessing burnout, namely, the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The Maslach Burnout Inventory defines burnout as a three-dimensional syndrome made up of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. (Maslach, 1996). In a study entitled, The evaluation of an individual burnout intervention program; the role of inequality and social support, burnout was recognised to be a serious threat, and specifically for employees who work with people (Van Dierendonck, 1993). It is considered to be the result of an individual’s unsuccessful attempts to mediate environmental stressors (Levert, 2000). Personality traits are also related to coping mechanisms, and past experiences are relevant. Research has identified five key personality traits which can be applied when studying the effects of burnout and what types of people will be most vulnerable to it. The traits include Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness (Costa, 1987) (John, 1992).
If you’re reading this thinking, ‘this is me’ and starting to feel anxious and panicky, don’t worry, you are not alone. Having personal experience of burnout myself and having turned my life around, I can help you do to the same. Please do get in touch to discuss how I can help.
Leanne Spencer is a Fitness Entrepreneur, Author of the Amazon Bestselling book Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best and Founder of the Rise Method and Bodyshot Performance Limited. Connect with me @riseshinemethod or Facebook.
If you would like to have a free, no-obligation chat about how The RISE Method® could help you, or to check availability, please contact Leanne on +44 7401 441 818 or send an email to email@example.com and one of the team will get back to you within 24 hours.