The emotional toll wrought by job related burnout (JRB) has been well described – emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (cynicism) and a lack of a sense of personal accomplishment. These can be devastatingly bad in their own right. But what about the mental, physical and spiritual consequences of JRB?
You don’t have to search very far or for long to discover vast amounts of information on the link between one’s mindset and physical well-being. I have told hundreds of patients over the years, if you don’t feel good in your head you won’t feel good in your body. And if you don’t feel good in your body you won’t feel good in your head.
Nowhere is this link between mind and body more firmly fixed than with JRB. Symptoms of JRB will eventually slop over into one’s mental, physical and spiritual realms if not adequately addressed. Although you can be stressed and not burned out, if you are burned out I can say with 100% assurance you are stressed.
When people are stressed, stress hormones are released into the bloodstream. These are the “fight or flight” hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine.
In past times, these hormones were vital for our survival. When we were hunter gatherers and presented with a threat or stressed in some way, these hormones would cause us, or assist us, to either eliminate the threat (fight) or remove ourselves from the threat in a quick hurry (flee).
Today, neither of those options are possible for most people. If you feel threatened by your boss or your work environment you can’t readily or quickly fight or flee without real consequences.
As a result, many walk around with chronically high levels of circulating stress hormones. These can reek havoc with the mind, body and spirit.
High circulating levels of stress hormones over extended periods of time from chronic stress can cause a variety of potentially dangerous symptoms and conditions. They cause real target organ damage in the heart, brain, kidneys, bones, and immune system.
Here is a partial list of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual consequences associated with prolonged stress which we see often in people suffering from chronic, full blown JRB:
- Fatigue/low energy
- Insomnia/difficulty sleeping
- Anxiety/Other mood disorders
- Relationship/marital problems
- Heart disease
- Elevated cholesterol
- Elevated blood sugar/diabetes
- Difficulty with memory
- Workplace conflicts
- Vulnerability to infections
- Social Isolation
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Premature aging/death
If you are in a toxic/hostile work environment and burned out, putting your head down and suffering through it is not the best plan for the sake of your overall health. In my opinion, I believe it is a form of slow suicide. I do not believe we were put here on this earth to suffer in this way when we have the ability to choose differently for ourselves.
If you have burned yourself out by taking on too much, working too long hours, ignoring your physical and spiritual realms or from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please get help. It doesn’t have to be this way.
If it is your work environment which has burned you out (happens 90% of the time), and you want some things to change you are going to have to change some things.
A different work environment or a different type of work may be necessary for overall health and well-being.
Getting the attention of an employer to make needed changes to a toxic work environment can be difficult but not impossible. You can easily make the case that eliminating any of the six major job mismatches which cause workplace burnout is not only cost effective, it can be income generating. (Download my Job Related Burnout – Executive Summary)
If you are working for an individual or an organization that has no interest in changing, then it is time to sharpen up your resume´ and look elsewhere for employment. Or, you may need to take a hard look at the type of work you do, for which you may not be suited.
These are difficult choices but they may be necessary choices for health and happiness. It is impossible to live a fully elaborated version of yourself with purpose driven passion if you are burned out.
Are you having any of the symptoms I listed due to job related burnout and prolonged stress? If you feel you are burning out, burned out, or not sure and don’t know what to do, give me a call and let’s talk. Just click the CONTACT button below.