Emotional burnout: 6 tips from a psychologist

Emotional burnout: 6 tips from a psychologist

We habitually associate the term with a career, but burnout can occur in family life, motherhood, and even in creativity. How to recognize it? How do you distinguish it from depression? And most importantly, how do we fight it?

Most of us are sure that burnout is about someone else. I thought the same thing myself. At the word “burnout” I mentally imagined an empty aluminum casing from under a tea candle, and in it, on the bottom, there was a residue of a burnt wick. No, that’s definitely not me. It seems to us that such things happen only to those who work hard all day and night, literally burning at work. We habitually explain our own condition by fatigue, but this is the quiet insidiousness of burnout – it creeps up unnoticed.

At some point you realize that all that’s left of the warm flame inside is that burnt fuse. When did I notice the symptoms of burnout myself? Probably when the positive emotions disappeared and mild irritation took their place. “Is this really it? It can’t be! I’m a psychologist!”

I became convinced of the correctness of my suspicions later, when I came to psychotherapy myself. Remember the old joke about the fake Christmas decorations that were okay, but “not happy”? Well, that was the same for me. Not that they are not happy, but I did not want to get involved in the New Year’s Eve rush, put up a tree, decorate the house, run after gifts. And after the New Year vacations nothing changed. That’s when it became clear that it was time to change something.

In order not to be so painful, the psyche switches off emotions, protecting itself. The body starts to work in energy-saving mode.

But if you miss the first bells, over time, the thin sound of the warning bell turns into a deafening ringing. There is a feeling of anxiety, dissatisfaction with everything and everyone. You don’t even want to communicate with your loved ones. Work that used to be a joy is no longer enjoyable. What used to bring joy and pleasure begins to irritate more and more. Gradually the irritation towards colleagues and close people grows, and the self-esteem falls. Desperation attacks appear.

In such a condition, it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate with people. The world is painted in black and gray colors. Everything is perceived aggravated, painfully. And in order not to be so painful, the psyche turns off emotions, protecting itself. The organism begins to work in energy-saving mode, using its power only for the most necessary. To ensure vital processes. And that’s when indifference to everything comes. This is the deafening ringing.

It is important to remember that mental and body resources are not infinite. For example, we can’t stay awake for long, the body needs sleep. It is also impossible to give 100% at work every day. Each of us has his own limit, and it depends on many factors. From a person’s lifestyle, the situation in which he is now, the time of year and time of day.

For example, we spend much more energy than usual on communicating with unpleasant people. And if a person regularly oversteps this limit, exhaustion begins, followed by burnout.

Depression is based on fear, and burnout is based on anger. The symptoms are so similar that it is hard for specialists to distinguish them

In terms of psychosomatics, burnout affects someone who had a bad relationship with a parent of the same gender in their childhood. Such a situation in the family becomes the foundation of many problems. A child tries by all means to earn the attention of parents, to deserve their love. And continues to do so, becoming an adult. For example, he transfers the role of his parent to his boss and tries to earn his love or at least recognition of his merits. If this does not happen, self-esteem falls, self-confidence evaporates. There is a feeling of futility of effort. “I feel like I’m fighting windmills,” is how one of my clients described the condition.

It used to be believed that burnout could only be caused by work. But now I observe burnout more and more often in the family. It happens when you don’t enjoy what you do for your family. When your contribution exceeds the payoff. Everything you do is taken for granted. Although both family work and office work have a lot in common. By and large, family is also work, only without the weekend.

Many of my clients complain about the fact that they do not get support from loved ones. The woman feels that she is doomed to “pull the strap. In the evening you tell your family that you are tired, but in response you hear: “And what have you been doing all day? You’ve been sitting at home!”

After these words, there is a feeling of helplessness, resentment, hopelessness, and-most often-anger. It is the anger that stands behind resentment and helplessness. In my opinion, this is the main difference between emotional burnout syndrome and depression. Depression is based on fear; burnout is based on anger. The symptoms are so similar that it is difficult for specialists to distinguish them.

For most women who have chosen family as their main occupation, burnout has become real. Burnout is also possible in creative people, in those circles where there is fierce competition, for example, in the modeling business.

Usually people with a burnout syndrome turn to specialists when they have no strength, no desire, and no emotion anymore. In this state a person stops caring about himself/herself first of all. But it is through this care that the road to recovery lies.

Emotional burnout: 6 tips from a psychologist

So how to return to a “normal” state, to turn from a black wick back into a smooth and beautiful flame?

  1. Helping the inner child. How does a parent express love? Mostly through the body: affectionate touching, stroking, hugging. And this is the first thing you can do on your own. Pay attention to your body. Do a self-massage. Rubbing the body with a brush from bottom to top works very well on the lymph. Another option is to pat the meridians that run down the arms and legs from top to bottom and bottom to top. You can simply massage your neck and shoulders when you are feeling tired in the middle of the work day.
  2. leaving work problems at work. How? With clothes. When you come home from work, change your clothes. Immediately. In your favorite, comfortable, and pretty clothes. The ritual of changing clothes can turn on or off the role that is so energy-consuming for you. If you have a change of shoes at work, then changing clothes at the end of the day can become this very ritual: when finishing work, you take off “work” shoes, and along with it you leave all the work problems in the office. It’s the same at home. Putting on your home clothes, it’s as if you include the role you need at the moment: hostess, mother, beloved wife.
  3. meditate. This is a daily practice of clearing the mind. It is the restless mind that creates the tension that drains all our strength. Pay attention to this.

To cope with burnout, you need to consciously take steps toward a healthy, balanced life

  1. Engage in physical activity. Try to approach them consciously, feel your body as you exercise. Let your mind focus specifically on the sensations in your body, not on the running moments that have been or will be. I would include in this point any body practices – bathing, massage, walking, running, swimming. Feel your body, every muscle!
  2. Practice digital detox and breathing. Daily. For a few minutes, turn off all means of communication, computer, music, movies. During this time, engage in conscious breathing. Five minutes of watching how you breathe will be enough for your body to recharge. That’s just your five minutes, no one else’s.
  3. Sleep. Healthy sleep is the best way to recharge. Try to gradually reduce activity by the evening. To avoid insomnia, you can make soothing tea with melissa, valerian, motherwort or mint. Get enough sleep! This is my favorite cure for a variety of ailments, and it really helps.

These are pretty simple tips, and they are within everyone’s reach. It is important to understand that burnout does not go away by itself. To cope with it, you have to consciously take steps toward a healthy, balanced life. Even if these steps are very small, the main thing is to take them every day.