Mental burnout is a condition with long-term destructive effects on modern society. It is described as a feeling of exhaustion, demotivation, and a sense of meaningless existence.
Burnout can strike anyone with chronic stress, but especially those in caring roles – Nurses, doctors, teachers, social workers, but also childminders, full-time parents, and even personal assistants. Already in the 4th century, Christian monks described a phenomenon called “acedia.” This Greek word, which means apathy or dullness, could possibly indicate burnout among the dedicated monks. After decades of caring for others, many of them began to doubt whether their lives had a purpose and even described their days as “grey.”
Burnout is not merely the product of long hours or hard work. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, there is sustaining evidence that high job requirements, low control, and an imbalance in input-and-compensation, are all risk factors for mental and physical health problems. Burnout will start to develop when deadlines, job requirements, and other stressors are higher than reward, recognition, and relaxation.
The problem is that prolonged exposure to burnout stressors can lead to serious health problems and disrupt almost every cell in your body. Besides the physical effects of burnout, the mental impact is just as severe and may rewire your brain over time, making you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Psychological researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden could prove how mentally destructive burnout might be. According to their findings, burnout can physically change the neural circuits and structure of your brain and ultimately cause a destructive cycle of neurological dysfunction.
Apart from changes in brain anatomy, scientists are beginning to understand how burnout can affect a person’s cognitive functioning by disrupting their creativity, problem-solving and memory.
The First Danger Signs of Mental Burnout
- Every day feels like a bad day.
- Worries about work and domestic issues feel like a waste of time.
- You always feel exhausted.
- You find daily tasks deadly boring or entirely overwhelming.
- It feels like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated at all.
Don’t let burnout disables you permanently. Talk to your mental healthcare professional or call Life Path Health’s 24-hour helpline at 072 7900 506.