Burnout is not ordinary fatigue, but a real-life diagnosis. Anyone can experience it, but on average, women are more likely to experience overwork due to work, more tired from household chores and raising children. Psychologist Alena Chepurkova explains how to find signs of emotional burnout in yourself, what could be the reasons (there are as many as 10 of them) and why this problem should not be left unresolved.
Emotional burnout is a psychological overwork, which is expressed by a loss of interest in life, both personal and professional. It is caused by the fact that a person receives much less emotions that give a resource than emotions that take energy.
People who are responsible for the life and health of others, the weaker, often suffer from such overwork. These are doctors, educators, teachers, specialists in helping professions, employees of law enforcement agencies. In addition, parents are at risk, because their direct duty is to constantly “keep abreast” and be responsible for their children 24 hours a day without days off, holidays and wages.
Swedish researcher Annika Norberg studied the features of emotional burnout in fathers and mothers. She found that parent-child relationships take more energy from a woman than from a man.
In addition, a woman burns out faster not only in the family sphere, but also in the professional one. This conclusion was made by scientists at the University of Montreal. For 4 years, they studied the psychological characteristics of 2,026 people (half of them are women).
Similar conclusions were made by Russian researchers Alexander Vishnyakov and Tatyana Ulcheva. They studied the risks of professional burnout among specialists in helping professions (psychologists, doctors, teachers). It turned out that women hold back their negative emotions longer and are in a phase of tension, while men try to avoid the action of emotional factors, to protect themselves from them. In addition, male specialists are more detached and objective about their work, while women take everything to heart.
Emotional burnout is not fatigue or a bad mood. This is an official diagnosis, which is registered in the International Classification of Diseases under the code QD85 and is considered a factor affecting health. It affects the cardiovascular and reproductive systems, respiratory organs, gastrointestinal tract, hormonal levels, and mental state.
Signs of emotional burnout
- You do not experience positive emotions. Even those things that used to 100% cheer up are not encouraging.
- You don’t feel the “taste of life”: you don’t even remember how to enjoy and feel pleasure from the little things.
- Everything around is annoying.
- You feel unreasonable discomfort and anxiety.
- It is difficult to wake up in the morning, there is a feeling of wild fatigue.
- You feel complete indifference to what is happening around you.
- You are not touched by the problems of loved ones, you do not feel pity and sympathy for them, you have become more cynical.
- Your only desire is to be alone, so that no one touches or pulls.
- You have nervous tics and obsessive movements: for example, you bite your nails, bite your lips and cheeks from the inside, wind your hair around your finger.
- It seems to you that no one but you is capable of solving a problem or doing something.
- You have no desires: neither global, nor even the smallest.
- You feel stuck and see no way out of the current situation. It doesn’t seem to get any better.
10 causes of burnout (and how to deal with them)
1. Feeling worthless
When you perform the same actions day after day, solve the same tasks, it seems that you are not doing anything, and time disappears somewhere.
For example, many women know the feeling: I woke up in the morning, cooked breakfast, fed everyone, cooked dinner, fed everyone again, did household chores, cooked dinner, everyone ate – that’s evening. And nothing of the planned plainly done. And the fatigue is as if the wagons were unloading.
There is a depressing feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself. We begin to reproach ourselves, scold and forget about gratitude towards ourselves.
What to do
Get a notebook and write down everything that you managed to do during the day. Right on the points (yes, we also mark the washed dishes and the made bed). Write down and be surprised: how much work was done in one short day. And respect yourself for it.
It is also useful to write down in a notebook gratitude for the day lived: what was good, amazing and joyful in it. And suddenly it turns out that in the bustle of household chores there was time for reading an interesting book to the children, and for romantic communication with her husband, and for a cup of freshly brewed coffee. It’s just that we are not used to focusing on pleasant little things and appreciating them.
In most cases, a monotonous process leads to burnout, in which all tasks are familiar and no longer interesting. The brain performs the same activity over and over again without building new neural connections. Routine work does not cause positive emotions, and a person does not receive satisfaction from its results.
But constant intense mental work also leads to emotional exhaustion: the brain spends all its energy on solving non-standard tasks.
What to do
First, we need additional sources from which to draw a resource. If there is not enough creativity in professional activity, it is important to find something for the soul. Hobbies help restore energy and relax.
Secondly, it is important to separate work from personal life and be sure to give yourself a break. If you are actively solving professional tasks all day, then disconnect from them outside the office. Especially often, the boundaries between work and personal time are blurred for those who work remotely and use every free minute for this, including at night. In such situations, working hours should be clearly regulated in accordance with the family regime, otherwise there will be a feeling of a “smeared day”.
Loads in professional activity are compensated by the salary. But for daily household work we are not paid, and sometimes we are not even thanked. And what is most unpleasant – the results of this work are quickly nullified.
Cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, grocery shopping are activities that take up the time and energy left after work. But dinner is immediately eaten, the dishes become dirty again, the dust returns to its place, and the linen ironed yesterday turns into a shapeless mountain today.
This process is endless and exhausting, especially if you do it all alone.
What to do
There is no escape from household chores. But they can be minimized and delegated. Let each family member have their assigned responsibilities (even small children). Pulling everything on yourself is not the best solution.
We often get in the way of delegating our tasks because of the fear that no one will do the task better. But it’s not so scary if the child sweeps the floor somehow or the husband does the dishes, forgetting about the pan – it’s much worse if you run out of steam trying to do everything.
In household chores, perfectionism only gets in the way: sometimes it makes a woman not a super-hostess, but a nervous, exhausted servant.
Stereotypes impose on women the desire to be in time for everything and everywhere: to be an excellent worker, a caring mother, an exemplary wife and lover, as well as an interesting and purposeful person. To be the best and irreplaceable.
And many people really believe that it is possible to combine a bunch of roles and still perform them to perfection. Because we see such ideal and all-successful women in movies, TV shows and social networks. They stir the soup with one hand, rock the baby with the other, while doing exercises and holding a workshop. And all this with a slight smile.
And when we can’t match this picture, we get upset and reproach ourselves for weakness and laziness.
What to do
Accept the fact that you cannot be a businesswoman, a chef, a top-class maid, an excellent educator and teacher, a fitness model, an ardent liberated lover and a self-developing personality at the same time.
Every woman has a field in which she is a pro. So maybe direct all your irrepressible energy there? And in other areas, you can just be good. Or even not very good.
5. Lack of sleep
To maintain physical and mental health, a person needs to sleep continuously for 8 hours at night. For quality sleep, it is desirable to hang up at 22-23 hours and get up early, before 7 in the morning. And if obligations force you to wake up at dawn, then in the evening you want to delay the moment of lights out as long as possible in order to “live for yourself.”
Nevertheless, sleep is one of the main assistants in the fight against emotional burnout. The lack of night rest negatively affects the nervous, hormonal, cardiovascular systems.
What to do
Get enough sleep, no matter how trite it may sound. Try to go to bed before 23, ventilate and humidify the room well, curtain the windows with blackout curtains, turn off gadgets.
No matter how much you want to watch a series at night or flip through a social network feed to unload your brain, it’s better to overcome this desire and spend the free time on sleep. Let this thought soothe you: when the body recovers and accumulates resources, you will begin to do more and spend less time on your usual activities. So there will be an opportunity for series with social networks.
6. Lack of proper physical activity
Work-to-home runs with grocery bags as weights do not count. It would seem that we are always on the move, but this is not the kind of movement that helps to fill up with energy.
Useful is the load that will relax the muscles, make the blood circulate more actively, supplying oxygen to the brain cells. Soft loads are great for health and psyche: yoga, stretching, callanetics, breathing exercises. Even a simple exercise familiar from childhood will improve your mood and restore clarity to your mind.
What to do
Choose for yourself the type of load that brings you the most pleasure, and find a place for it in your busy schedule. It’s good if you can fit both morning invigorating exercises and evening relaxing stretches.
At the end of the day, you can arrange a self-massage session with a tennis ball. To do this, you need to stand against the wall, hold the ball between your back and the wall and roll it, paying special attention to the neck and shoulders.
7. Lack of personal space
When there is no opportunity to be alone with yourself, do your favorite things, take a breath, then there is no way to restore the internal resource.
The personal boundaries of a woman are constantly violated: everyone needs the help and attention of a mother, wife, daughter, girlfriend … A woman delves into the problems of others, satisfies other people’s needs, solves tasks that are not personally interesting to her. Such forced involvement is a significant factor in emotional burnout.
What to do
Look for an opportunity for solitude.
If you have a small child, devote yourself to his daytime sleep.
If the children are older, explain to them that mom needs time for herself. The “signal of loneliness” works better: for example, if a mother sits in her favorite chair, she cannot be approached for 15 minutes. Or if mom is drinking coffee, wait until she finishes.
If there are no children, but there is a partner who needs attention, just feel free to say: “I need to be alone with myself now.”
8. Children’s tantrums and whims
Children’s bright, emotional reactions are sometimes unsettling. Due to age, it is difficult for children to control themselves and manage the expression of feelings, so they “dump” them onto an adult. The adult, in turn, must work out this reaction and resolve the situation by explaining what child feels and why. But for this, the adult himself must be emotionally balanced. Then the hysteria stops and the child acquires a new emotional experience.
But what usually happens in reality? An adult does not have time to recover from another tantrum. And each time, it reacts more and more negatively to the emotional outburst of the child. He, charged with this state, begins to show his emotions more vividly. In turn, the adult winds up faster and faster. Vicious circle.
What to do
Restore resource. In every possible way: sleep, hobbies, personal time, bath, food, tea, movie, book, exercise.
Strongly strain all the muscles of the body, freeze for a few seconds, and then sharply relax. Then close your eyes and take three or four deep breaths and strong exhalations. So you stabilize your emotional background and you will have a few minutes to calmly respond to the situation.
To cope with a child’s tantrum, sit at the child’s eye level and place your palm on his shoulder blades. Don’t ask him to stop crying (he can’t hear you). If the child does not mind, hug him. If he pushes you away, just silently be there. When the child calms down, you can discuss the reason for such strong emotions.
After you deal with the tantrum, drink water and listen to yourself. What do you want? Maybe wash up, lie down a bit, get some fresh air or sit in silence with your eyes closed? Do this to rejuvenate. Be sure to pay attention to the jaw muscles: if they are strongly compressed, then relax them, move your jaw from side to side.
In calm periods with a child, it is useful to read fairy tales about emotions, introduce them and teach how to live them. A puppet theater is well suited for this, in which different situations and ways of solving them are played.
9. Lack of sources of positive emotions
In everyday life, it seems difficult to find an opportunity to please yourself. Where to get the resource from? From a mountain of dishes or checking homework?
In fact, it is quite possible to create a mood for yourself in simple ways.
What to do
Surround yourself with beautiful little things. There is a daily lunch of festive plates. Drink coffee in a beautiful cup and saucer. Pour the cream into the milk jug. Lay a tablecloth. Wear comfortable but nice attire. Cover the sofa with a bright blanket. Put a plate of fruit or a vase of flowers on the table. Bake a cake and fill the house with the aroma of vanilla and chocolate. Spend the sunset with a glass of wine. And be sure to pay attention to these little things, mark them, capture them in the mind.
10. The need to “keep face”
Despite the fact that women are very emotional, they often try to restrain their feelings. They don’t cry when they are sad, they don’t express their displeasure or irritation, they don’t scream when everything is boiling inside. But one day the “dam breaks” and all the accumulated locked emotions splash out because of a trifle. This exhausts the nervous system and can lead to psychosomatic illnesses.
What to do
Talk about your feelings and experience emotions without locking them in. If you are offended, tell the offender about it. Sad – cry and explain why. Get angry – beat the pillow and blow off steam.
No need to fight your emotions, they need to be respected. They are all important for something. The emotion that has been lived passes in 8 seconds. The one that is suppressed remains in the body for years.
Why you need to deal with burnout
Emotional burnout is a dangerous phenomenon for women’s health. It is better to prevent it than to recover later. You need to do prevention every day, paying special attention to the daily routine: sleep, nutrition, activity.
If you notice burnout symptoms in yourself, don’t expect it to go away on its own. This condition will only get worse. First of all, turn on the “energy saving mode”: reduce household chores to a minimum and relax more. If possible, take a day off from work tasks and completely unload your head.
Feel free to ask for help. Tell your loved ones how you feel and explain what kind of support you expect from them.
Seek advice from a psychologist. This can be done online. If you don’t know where to find a psychologist, leave a request on one of the psychological support services. Many provide an initial consultation for free. If you feel that the situation is critical, then use the services of psychological help hotlines.
• Psychological assistance service EMERCOM of Russia: website and hotline 8 499 216–50-50.
• Moscow Service for Psychological Assistance to the Population: website and hotline 8 800 333-44-34.
The specialist will assess the degree of emotional exhaustion, give specific recommendations on how to alleviate the condition, and draw up a step-by-step recovery plan.
Don’t put off solving this problem. When you have a toothache, do you go to the dentist? Mental health is just as important as physical health. When a person is in a resource, he has enough strength and capabilities to solve any problems and enjoy every day he lives.