I’ve been thinking about burn out quite a bit recently… Actually, I’ve been thinking about it since last year when I got really sick and went to hospital for 5 days.
I also meet and work with a lot of people who work in education. And I get the sense that many working in this space are exhausted. Sometimes, I wonder if they’re actually burnt out.
Burn out is serious. I thought perhaps I might be burnt out too. But I read the Wikipedia entry tonight and I decided that I’m not.
Here are the stages of real burn out:
- You feel compelled to prove yourself.
- You work harder and harder and you become obsessed with this work..
- You neglect your own needs and the needs of your friends and family.
- You know something is wrong but you can’t tell what it is.
- You revise your value system so that it now equals your work
- You become intolerant, anti-social, and deny emerging problems
- You lose any sense of direction or hope and withdraw, perhaps into drugs or alcohol
- Your behaviour changes.
- You lose touch with yourself and your own needs.
- You feel empty inside and look for meaning in other activities such as alcohol or drugs
- You feel exhausted, hopeless, indifferent and depressed believing that there is nothing for you in the future.
- You collapse physically and emotionally (and should seek immediate medical attention).
If you know someone who might be heading down this slippery slope they may need help. That might mean your help or a trained professional.
Just one caveat though: I think it’s perfectly normal to experience any of these things at any time. We all do.
Feeling exhausted, or that your work is meaningless, or that you’re going through a patch where you need to work really hard… well, that might just be how it is.