10 ways to avoid burnout

Of all the adults suffering from job burnout in the U.S., studies indict that physicians may have it the worst out of all occupations at a 35.2% rate overall. A stressful job is never good for a person’s long-term health, but how can the average person spot stress burnout symptoms before it’s too late? The road to burnout has several stops along the way, and these signs are detailed below.

The Five Stages of Burnout, and How to Recover.

Job stress burnout symptoms begin long before someone complains of exhaustion. In fact, job burnout is frequently difficult to spot in careers that are known for requiring long hours or for being stressful, such as physicians. The stages below are outlined in the book, How to Cope With Job Burnout, by R. Veninga and J. Spradley, 1981.

Stage One: The Happy Honeymoon.

This stage may seem surprising, because there is no difficulty at this beginning stage. Young physicians who are just beginning to gain real life experience are likely eager to prove themselves at work. All too often, this means volunteering for more work or staying at work later. The worker feels committed to doing a great job, and has the energy and creativity to do well. This stage is critical for finding effective coping strategies for future stress.

Stage Two: Finding Out Life Is a Balancing Act.

At this stage, some stress has began seeping in to every day life. The physician may begin to have disturbances with their sleep, getting either too little or waking unrefreshed. Occasional fatigue is felt. They may begin to feel some dissatisfaction with their job. If they were able to develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress in the previous step, these will be practiced now. If they did not, then it is likely they will engage in escapist tendencies such as excessive: eating, T.V. watching, drinking alcohol, or smoking.

Stage Three: Chronic Feelings of Stress.

At this stage, the physician will switch from feeling occasional irritation with their work/life balance to frequent dissatisfaction. Sleep disturbances become chronic, some experience physical illnesses, and angry outbursts and depression may develop.

Stage Four: The Constant Crisis.

Stress burnout symptoms are constant. The physician’s physical illness, if any, worsens due to poor sleep habits, and perhaps decreased healthy practices such as eating proper meals and exercising. An obsession with work manifests.

Stage Five: The Enmeshment of Stress Into One’s Life.

At the final stage, stress burnout symptoms are so pronounced that it appears the person is actually having a chronic physical problem instead of unhealthy coping mechanisms with job stress.

Many studies have shown time and again that physicians are the one working group twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their work/life balance as compared to other members of the population. It is clear to see that burnout can effect one’s quality of life. The key to avoiding or minimizing burnout is to plan for it. Developing healthy practices that prioritize one’s health are the best method of stopping burnout before it starts.