Exhaustion: When You Strain Yourself Too Much

Exhaustion: when you strain yourself too much

Exhaustion is defined as the feeling of restlessness caused by excessive work. It is usually a direct result of very intense or prolonged stress, where the pressure eventually consumes all of a person’s resources (mental defenses). It is more common in helping professions  (doctors, nurses, psychologists, etc.).

Exhaustion is different for every person, but one of its most visible symptoms is a lack of motivation, which reduces a person’s quality and quantity of work. Thus, it could be said that  it is considered a state of physical and mental exhaustion caused by constant and excessive participation in mentally consuming situations. 

Christina Maslach, one of the most notable people in this field, defines work exhaustion as mental exhaustion, which leads to a lack of motivation, which in turn usually leads to feelings of inadequacy or failure.

man with work stress

Three main symptoms

  • Mental Fatigue and Exhaustion: People with work exhaustion feel unable to provide quality help or support to their patient or family member for longer. This often makes them feel inadequate and helpless. They are no longer able to give of themselves to others. Often this also expands into physical exhaustion.
  • Depersonalization: Due to the process mentioned above, a person adopts an indifferent attitude. He becomes more distant towards the patient or family member. As a result, he no longer does his job the way he should or would do it under normal circumstances.
  • Feelings of failure due to lack of personal and / or professional fulfillment: In the long run, a person suffering from burnout gets less job satisfaction. He begins to experience feelings of failure or dissatisfaction. He exhibits frustration, helplessness (as we referred to in the first paragraph), low self-esteem, and frustration with the job.

The vicious circle of stress and exhaustion

This is very much like a domino effect or a vicious circle. However, it does not necessarily happen in the same order for all individuals, and it is not always gradual. However, what usually always happens is an “ escalation of symptoms”. In other words, the first symptoms lead to everything else unless there is a change.

This is not to say that all those in the helping professions will experience exhaustion. In fact, some people who do hard work, such as providing escort or cancer care, become stronger with it. This largely depends on what kind of mental survival aids they use.

Coping with burnout

There are certain factors (experiences, people, situations, etc.) that we cannot change and control in any way. Events that are simply what they are. Things that we would like to change in some way or that we would not even want to exist.

But… things are how they are. To take care of ourselves, we need to distinguish between what we can and what we cannot do. Make a distinction between what is and what should be. This will protect you from helplessness, frustration, guilt and anger.

It is important to accept that:

  • We are responsible for our actions, not the culprits. Thus, we can always choose how we react to what happens.
  • We all have our limits and we need to take care of our relationships. Both in relation to ourselves and other people.
  • Pain and suffering affect us. That’s normal, we’re just humans. But it helps us learn more about ourselves.
  • The lessons have their own rules, and they hardly obey the rules of reason. This is true even if you are a health professional.
the woman can't stand at work

Effective means of overcoming burnout

Two fairly effective psychological aids are usually used to overcome burnout: acceptance and compassion. They both help relieve stress. They keep our motivation and willpower high so that we can direct our energy proactively. Anticipation consists of making decisions for oneself, taking responsibility for one’s own actions without justifying them.

Acceptance and compassion also help set realistic and achievable goals. They guide us towards success and achievement. It’s all about focusing on what you want, not what you’re afraid of. To do this, it is important to look for the right kind of information and invest time in it. One example is the practice of techniques such as consciousness skills based on a complete focus on the present.

Self-management strategies are also important here. By self-management strategies, we mean things that help us control our own behavior. These include mental, cognitive and motor behavior. The aim is to adapt better to different situations.

The point is, in short, simple: to regain control over important personal choices (such as dedicating life to helping others), allowing it to be done well and maintaining mental health.

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