I recently watched a video on YouTube that referred to the idea that many people experience a job-related burnout. Throughout the video, I began to identify with the symptoms and realized while I am not experiencing a workplace burnout, I am certainly experiencing a university burnout. Upon research, I found that school-related burnouts are actually way more common than I thought.
What is Burnout?
A burnout is defined by David Ballard of the American Psychological Association as: “An extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their performance”. In other words, burnouts are states of emotional, mental, or physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. School-related burnouts are typically caused by an overbearing workload and may take weeks or months to develop.
What Causes Burnout?
I discovered that causes for burnout have been studied and researched thoroughly in the past few years. The scientific research has shown that since burnout causes extensive stress, it will affect the brain’s physical structure, causing either enlargement, shrinking as well as premature aging of the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex and its medial prefrontal cortex. If this occurs over long periods of time, it can permanently weaken the parts of the brain that control memory and attention span.
Burnout Symptoms and Warning Signs
Experiencing symptoms of physical exhaustion; this includes insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, or continually getting sick.
Experiencing symptoms of emotional exhaustion; this includes the development of anxiety or anger issues.
Experiencing signs of mental exhaustion; this includes developing a tendency toward pessimism, detachment, and a lack of productivity.
How to Prevent a Burnout From Occurring
There are many preventative measures that can be taken to prevent a burnout from occurring. First of all, it is so important to recognize the signs of excessive stress and to make various lifestyle choices in order to decrease it and prevent a burnout from occurring. Managing stress is essential to prevent burnouts. Secondly, self-care is so important in reducing stress! Taking a few moments a day to relax or a quick nightly bath can do wonders. Finally, ensure you are not biting off more than you can chew! Declining tasks can be difficult; however, doing so can prevent the overwhelming stress of taking on more than one can handle.