Burnout Is Not Failure

But it can lead to difficulties in coping with one’s mental health.

Most of us care deeply about someone or something. Perhaps we are caring for elderly parents, our children, patients, students, or even our work itself. When we care, we put forth our time, energy and sincere effort to do our best at what we do; we offer the best of ourselves. 

However, sometimes when we are invested in who and what we care for, we reach a point of burnout, where we feel depleted or emotionally exhausted. Like what we do doesn’t matter. Perhaps one of the greatest misconceptions of burnout is that we reach that stage due to our own weakness or lack of resources. The truth is in fact the exact opposite. We often burn out because we are giving all of ourselves, often under circumstances where we are being pushed to our maximal capacity for extended periods of time. 

Burnout can look different in different people. For some, they notice their relationships with friends and family starting to deteriorate, or an inability to fulfill basic household responsibilities. Others may notice that only work is impacted, and a return of positive mood and energy when away from work on the weekends or on a vacation. It can often be a slippery slope into an episode of major depression or anxiety; often those who are struggling with burnout can’t quite tell when they have reached a point of needing to seek professional help. Burnout can also lead to difficulties in coping with one’s emotions, and some may turn to maladaptive strategies such as self-medication with alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, or other behaviors that then lead to their own problems.

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