Leadership and Burnout, Pt. 2

Back to the whole Stress and Burnout conversation from last week (see Leadership and Burnout, Pt. 1 to catch up)… What are some of the differences between stress and burnout?

Stress is not always a bad thing, right? Sometimes stress is helpful and motivating. It gives us that little push – that umph – to finish a project or pursue an idea. Stress can result in any number of physical experiences too. The American Institute of Stress put out a list of the 50 Most Commons Signs and Symptoms. As you can see, there is a wide variety.

What about burnout though? Burnout tends to come after a long period of stress. Often times it is associated with doing too much and when we eventually reach our limit, our body gives out. We are so reluctant to slow down on our own; we wait until we’re forced and physically cannot move forward without a period of rest. 

Burnout shares some of the same symptoms as stress but to the nth degree. Here are a few common characteristics of burnout:

* Lack of engagement in activites you used to enjoy

* Anxiety/Depression

* Isolation – Withdrawal

* Feeling numb

* Exhaustion

Have you ever experienced severe burnout? It’s not fun. I detailed my own story in “The Run”. I had been running myself ragged for years and finally my body said STOP. I started having panic attacks and withdrawing from people and activities I had always loved. I had reached my limit.

Having a background in psychology, I had a feeling I knew what was going on. I ordered some books to confirm. In one of them, I came across a stress test. There was a list of all kinds of stressful life experiences and what it asked you to do was, go through all of them and check off the ones that applied to you within the past year or two. I scored somewhere in the 200-range. (You wanted a low score to “pass”). My stress level was through the roof and it had been accumulating for years.

I get nervous when I see friends, family, coworkers etc. overextending themselves. We can never be too careful when it comes to stress and burnout prevention. The effects on our health are just not worth it. Whether it’s high blood pressure, panic attacks or even serious diseases, we need to treat ourselves with care. Not beat ourselves down with no concern for consequences.

I’ll get off my soapbox now. But take it from someone who gets it… take care of yourself.

 

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