Burnout Syndrome: A serious threat to your Life and to your Personal Improvement and Professional Development.
Since the beginning of my career as a jockey, and for more than 15 consecutive years, I have dedicated myself to my professional career, working practically 7 days a week, an average of 14 hours a day, uninterrupted. Without realizing it, for sure, I was already at an advanced stage of full burnout syndrome.
That’s when my psychologist warned me about the seriousness of this mental illness, saying: “Eurico, you need to slow down. You must have at least one day off a week. You need to become aware of this. Because if you don’t stop for the good, you’ll have to stop for the bad”. At that moment my mind conflicted and almost collapsed. With no response condition at that moment, I asked for some time to think and reflect on it, as it was the first time I had heard about the burnout syndrome in my life.
Burnout Syndrome, or Professional Exhaustion Syndrome, is an emotional disorder with symptoms of extreme exhaustion, chronic stress and physical exhaustion resulting from highly stressful work situations, which demand a high degree of competitiveness, as well as a lot of responsibility.
And that’s exactly what I was feeling at that moment in my life; a professional burnout, that was already compromising my personal life, as well as my physical, mental and emotional health.
“After much thought, I decided to follow my psychologist’s advice and started taking a day off initially.
This was definitely one of the best, and hardest decisions,
I’ve ever taken in my life.”
In a recent conversation with a friend about this subject, he told me a wise phrase that made me reflect a lot on the subject. The phrase was this:
‘‘Who doesn’t have time today to take care of their health,
you will have to find time tomorrow to take care of their illness.”
Burnout: ”Burn completely”
The name “Burnout syndrome” was coined by the German-American psychologist Herbert J. Freudenberger in 1974 who, later, also had the participation of the American psychologist Gail North. Together, they deepened the studies related to this syndrome.
Who was Herbert J. Freudenberger?
Herbert J. Freudenberger (1926-1999) was a German-American psychologist who pioneered the study of Burnout syndrome. He was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States during World War II. Freudenberger earned his Ph.D. in Psychology from New York University and has worked at various institutions, including mental health clinics and charitable organizations.
Freudenberger was one of the first to identify and describe the Burnout syndrome, as he assisted several mental health professionals who worked in stressful and demanding conditions. He coined the term “Burnout” in the 1970s and wrote the book “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement” (Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement) in 1980, in which he presented his ideas and research on the topic.
Through his observations and studies, Freudenberger laid the groundwork for understanding and recognizing Burnout Syndrome as a significant occupational health problem.
Who was Gail North?
Gail North is an American psychologist who is also known for her work on Burnout Syndrome. Although her contribution is not as well known as Herbert Freudenberger’s, she played an important role in the study of Burnout and in understanding its effects on workers.
Gail North collaborated with Freudenberger on studies on Burnout and published several works on the subject. In 1982, she wrote the book “Woman and Burnout: How to Cope”, which specifically addressed burnout issues faced by women in the workplace.
North’s research addressed burnout syndrome in different individuals and environments, with certainty for understanding how it affected workers and providing guidance on how to deal with this condition.
The 12 Possible Signs of Burnout Syndrome
Related to excessive pressure and professional responsibilities, Burnout Syndrome is the result of small daily doses of stress – and paying attention to these signs can be a way to avoid professional burnout.
See what they are.
1. Constant need for approval:
The person feels the constant need to demonstrate their worth and competence at work, which can lead to taking on many tasks and responsibilities.
2. Excessive accumulation of work:
The person assumes an intense dedication and ends up bringing everything to himself, always trying to do everything and at any time of the day. Making it impossible to disconnect from work and therefore ends up working in excess.
3. Carelessness of one’s own needs:
The person begins to neglect their own needs, such as sleeping and eating. He begins to avoid socializing with family and friends, prioritizing only work to the detriment of other areas of life.
4. Escape from reality:
The person begins to deny or ignore the personal or professional problems that arise as a result of stress and overwork. The person realizes that something is wrong, but avoids facing the situation. At this time, the first physical symptoms may arise.
5. Reinterpretation of personal values:
Family, social life, moments of rest, leisure and hobbies are seen as unimportant things. Your priority is always work and your self-esteem is measured only by the results of your work.
6. Denial of emerging problems:
The person tends to deny or minimize problems. They become very intolerant. See co-workers as incapable or underperforming. There may be increased aggressiveness and cynicism.
7. Social distancing:
The person begins to isolate himself from colleagues, friends and family,
withdrawing emotionally and avoiding socializing whenever possible.
8. Behavior changes:
The person shows clear behavioral changes, such as irritability, impatience or aggressiveness. People close to them begin to notice this change.
Depersonalization is characterized by the notorious presence of emotional insensitivity. The person begins to treat himself and others as objects, losing empathy and emotional connection with the people around him.
10. Feeling of inner emptiness:
The person feels an emotional void and may resort to compulsive behaviors or addictions, such as overeating, alcohol or other drug abuse, to fill that void.
A person may experience symptoms of depression such as deep sadness, hopelessness. The feeling of being lost is common, full of uncertainties and a feeling of exhaustion. The future appears uncertain, life loses its meaning.
12. Complete Burnout Syndrome:
At this stage, the person faces severe physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, and may have health problems and difficulty in fulfilling their responsibilities at work and in their personal life. The complete Burnout syndrome can lead to a sharp decline in professional performance, in addition to impacting the individual’s mental and physical health.
It’s important to note that not all people experience all 12 of these signs, and the progression can vary from person to person. Early recognition of symptoms and appropriate intervention are key to preventing or treating Burnout syndrome before it advances and causes more serious problems.
Find out what the daily routine of a champion jockey looks like
The daily professional routine of a champion jockey is rigorous and disciplined, involving intensive training, health care and a continual dedication to improving techniques and skills.
Below we detail a typical day in the life of a champion jockey:
Wake up early:
A champion jockey usually wakes up very early, around 4 or 5 am, to ensure that he has enough time to prepare and carry out all the activities of the day.
Before starting work with the horses, a champion jockey might do a morning exercise routine to warm up and stretch. This can include strength and flexibility exercises, and specific exercises to improve balance and posture.
A nutritious and balanced breakfast is important to provide the jockey with energy throughout the day. This can include protein-rich foods like eggs, yogurt and fruit, as well as whole grains and healthy fats.
The jockey spends most of the morning training the horses. This can include speed and endurance drills, as well as specific training for future races. The champion jockey works closely with the trainers and other team members, always providing feedback on the horse’s fitness and well-being.
Lunch and rest:
Around noon, the jockey takes a break for lunch and rest. Lunch usually consists of a healthy, balanced meal to replenish energy.
Video session and race analysis:
In the afternoon, the champion jockey can spend time reviewing videos of past races and studying his competitors’ tactics. This helps identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for future races.
Physical and mental conditioning:
The champion jockey takes time to work on physical and mental conditioning, performing strengthening exercises and working with a sports psychologist to develop stress coping skills and sharpen mental focus.
Dinner and relaxation:
At the end of the day, the champion jockey focuses on hydrating his body and enjoying a nutritious and balanced dinner to recover and prepare for the day ahead. Relaxation can include hobbies as well as activities that help you unwind and maintain a work-life balance, such as spending time with family and friends, reading, listening to music, or watching movies.
Body care and recovery:
Before going to sleep, the champion jockey can perform stretching, massage and physiotherapy sessions, if necessary, to help muscle recovery and prevent injuries. Additionally, sleep is crucial for recovery and optimal performance, so a champion jockey will usually strive to get around 8 hours of sleep a night.
Preparation for races:
On race days, the champion jockey’s routine may vary. They usually arrive at the racecourse early to familiarize themselves with the track, discuss strategies with the trainer. During the race, the jockey focuses on applying set tactics and effectively connecting with the horse to maximize performance.
Throughout his career, a champion jockey works tirelessly to perfect his techniques and skills and build a trusting relationship with his horses. The daily routine reflects the dedication, discipline and commitment required to excel in the sport and achieve racing success.
How to avoid burnout syndrome?
To avoid Burnout syndrome, it is important to adopt strategies that help balance work demands with personal and emotional needs.
Here are some tips to prevent burnout:
- Set limits: Learn to say “no” and set clear boundaries between work and personal life. This includes not taking work home and turning off electronic devices after hours.
- Manage stress: Adopt stress management techniques such as meditation and physical therapy or yoga exercises to help reduce tension and anxiety.
- Take care of physical health: Maintain a regular exercise routine, get enough sleep, and eat a healthy, balanced diet, as well as hydrating your body to ensure you’re in good shape to deal with stress.
- Social relationships: Establish and maintain relationships with colleagues, friends and family who can provide emotional support and help you cope with stress. Take time to socialize and share your concerns with people you trust.
- Take regular breaks: Take breaks during the day to recover mentally and physically. This could include short breaks to stretch, take a walk, or simply unplug from work for a few minutes.
- Set realistic goals: Set realistic and manageable work goals, avoiding overwhelming yourself with excessive expectations or impossible deadlines. Learn to delegate tasks when necessary and prioritize your responsibilities.
- Seek feedback and support: Get constructive feedback and support from your peers and supervisors to help address challenges and share solutions. This can also help you identify areas for improvement and hone your skills.
- Develop coping skills: Learn and practice coping skills to deal with stressful situations and challenges in the workplace, such as conflict resolution and assertive communication.
- Cultivate hobbies and interests outside of work: Dedicate time to activities you enjoy outside of work to help you relax and recharge. This could include hobbies, creative pursuits or sports.
- Seek professional help: If you feel that you are struggling to cope with stress at work or are experiencing symptoms of burnout, do not hesitate to seek professional help such as counseling or therapy.
By adopting these prevention strategies and being aware of the signs of Burnout, it is possible to minimize the risk of developing the syndrome and maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life. Remember, prevention is the best approach to maintaining physical and mental health and ensuring a healthier, more productive work environment.
What are the professional careers most likely to develop burnout syndrome?
Burnout syndrome can affect people in many professions, but some careers are more likely to develop burnout due to the nature of the work, workload and emotional demands.
Some of the professions with the highest risk of burnout include:
Human and animal health professionals:
Doctors, Veterinarians, nurses and many other health professionals face long working hours, high emotional load and exposure to stressful situations, such as dealing with critical patients and related to life and death issues.
Educators face pressure to ensure students’ academic success, deal with behavioral and emotional issues, and manage expectations from parents and school administration.
These professionals deal with emotionally difficult situations such as abuse, neglect and poverty as they try to help vulnerable individuals and families.
Police and firefighters:
These emergency workers face high-risk situations, stress and trauma, as well as long hours and pressure to protect the community.
Lawyers often deal with heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and emotionally draining situations, such as divorce cases and family disputes.
Call center attendants:
These workers deal with high call volume, unhappy customers and stringent targets, which can lead to chronic stress.
Entrepreneurs and Executives:
People in leadership positions face constant pressure to meet performance goals, manage teams and make high-impact decisions.
Elite athletes and champions:
High-level professional athletes can also develop burnout syndrome due to the highly competitive and demanding nature of the sport. Rigorous daily routine, pressure for results, as well as high expectations can contribute to chronic stress and emotional exhaustion.
Information technology professionals:
These IT professionals deal with tight deadlines, teamwork and complex issues, often working long hours and always being available to solve problems.
While these careers may have a higher risk of burnout, it is important to remember that any professional can develop burnout if they do not properly manage stress, balance work and personal life, and seek emotional support and professional help when needed.