“Burnout is nature´s way of telling you, you have been through the motions, your soul has departed”

-Sam Keen

In recent time, I am getting worried for all people I know and like, for their well being. It is nothing I can impact, change or even make going in better direction, but it makes me sad, at the end of the day. Those people who share my tribe vibes are one of a kind and I know that there are many people out there, who face the same problem or experience the same cause of the obstacles. Burnout. The small world with the big meaning and influence. It is overacted and underrated at the same time. Everybody is talking about it but still everywhere is like the biggest puzzle of alchemy. It is there but it is invisible. It is so powerful and makes us all feel powerless.

I have never been the type of author that is tracing the trend stories or the current hot topics. Sometimes, I come to the point that I cant ignore such an issue that is touching me or all those who I respect deeply. The burnout is a real issue and it is walking in the shadow around all of us, lurking and waiting to grab our souls, like the demon who waited for a long time. To be able to deal with a problem, it is very important to define it and unveil it. So, how we can understand the burnout, especially the employee burnout, that is going to be the plague of new and high-tech and high-fast era ? The burnout is not the same as stress but they are very related. Stress occurs, according to the scientists, after short period of time being exposed to the certain circumstances but the burnout is occurring after long time of being overwhelmed or stressed. This further means that stress is somehow the introduction to the burnout or the prologue of the burnout tale. Some therapist have opinion that the simplest way of differencing those two is to explain the feeling you have. If you are constantly under the pressure, it is not a stress because the stress is temporarily and has a short time of influence.

The statistic behind the burnout is not great and it is devastating for the working environment on the global level. For example, there are some research that even 42% of women are constantly burned out at work and about 35% of men. The worldwide phenomenon of being trapped at job, overloaded with tasks and not being able to grow within the work opportunities, due to the toxic working atmosphere is just one side of our story. That is like the deadly railway that bring you every day to the scary place and make you design your own and grudged Silent Hill. Nevertheless, the burnout is not the designation of our time since there are many evidences that this kind of burden could be found even in some Old Testament sentences:” Researchers really began paying attention to the idea in the mid-1970s. At this time, it was first studied by psychiatrist Herbert Freudenberger and social psychologist Christina Maslach. Freudenberger described it as ´to fail, wear out, or become exhausted by making excessive demands on energy, strength or resources.´”

The composition of burnout is very interesting and can help us to follow the first signs of getting burned out, because it is too late. There are three main components that is shaping the idea of burnout and these are : exhaustion, cynicism, and a lack of professional efficacy. As the name says itself, exhaustion is on rise due to the chronic fatigue and excessive work demands. The person is always under the overload of working tasks that is developing slowly the cynicism which is something like lack of interest and passion for work, based on forced quantity of to do things. The last phase is lack of professional efficacy because of the first two, failing success at work that has serious cause and background. Some available studies show that America is highly targeted with burnout cases while over there almost 11% of Americans work about 50 hours and the rest are stressed or burned out, grounded on the uncertain work possibilities and economic challenges. After Usa, there are some other European countries that are dealing seriously with this, like Portugal, Poland, Serbia and Greece. It depends, of course, which job is mostly addressed and it seems that physicians are on the first place, without any competition. What is even more sad is the fact that 1% of them tried suicide, due to the burnout at work. Then, there are nurses, fast food workers, lawyers, emergency responders and managers.

The real face of burnout is not only the mental weakness and emptiness but also the physical health. If it is not treated, the burnout could produce many severe diseases on the road, like diabetes, cardiovascular struggles and even death by the age of 45. One American mindset coach AlTai wrote that burnout is opening the issue of adrenal fatigue, which refers to a artier of symptoms like body aches, insomnia, the low immune system and the chronic tiredness. This kind of fatigue is driven by stress that attacks our adrenal glands, making us anxious. This could be different applied on extravert and introvert. Usually, people who are talkative and have many social contacts and interests are those who develop mechanism for fighting burnout or taking not so personally the overload of work. On the other side, the closed people have more chance to slide into the burnout like and drown, if nothing is done.

The burnout impact on women is a special topics. The women are divided between emotional place like home and family and the demand of the workplace. Somewhere in this transition, they are lost. They react more emotional on all those issues and doesn’t surprise the high level of women targeted with serious burnout.

Now when we know what is burnout and how it could be recognised, we need to learn how to defeat it. We need to learn to say NO. Yes, saying NO is the first step into the right direction in all areas. No matter who is trying to overload us with work or tasks, we need to set up the boundaries and to learn not to accept all, even that what we are sure we cant do or it causes us the stress. The next strategy is avoiding to work too long and too much. Remember that the relaxing phase has no price. Not only meditation that is very crucial but also the disconnect from all devices, spending time outside, practicing outdoor activity, sport or connecting with nature or animals. Self care and being gentle to yourself is a good way to avoid the development of burnout you cant control later. This self care moments arent just physical but also mental. You need to learn to be gentle to yourself, to cultivate your needs and to take care of your wishes. If something bothers you, eliminate it if possible or reduce the impact. Set the borders between you and other people’s expectations from you. Make the time for yourself, without being always available and on.

There is also the lessons learned for companies. If they keep dong what they do, promoting not capable experts or so called professionals as bosses, instead searching and investing in compassionate leaders, we will have the burnout on the rise all over, in each and every professional sector. The companies found the formula to give overload on the capable people who can work and exhaust them, letting the high management feeding on them, getting overweight on the back of poor intermediate intellectual who doesn’t know how to say no. The root of the problem is the leader that is boss, the high demands of job and few experts who could really do that and the lost work-life balance. This must be cured. The issue wont be gone after long vacation or when the new manager is on the top but when YOU ask yourself where is the problem for you and how you can deal with it, personally. Then, when you isolate the smallest part of the big question, you need to act and to advocate for your time, your rights and your mental health. Nobody can save your from burnout, it is your job, your TO DO, one of the most important in life.

Dare to say NO.


  1. Thank you, Sarah, for your educational article about this critical topic.

    The problem at hand is that the system has reached a level of extremism where employers are given autocratic power over employees. It ensues that employees have no say in anything, whatsoever, and have to accept any demands, as exigeant as they may be, in order not to lose their job.

    The system has to change so as not to allow this extreme and incessant exploitation of employees. Until this happens, sadly, companies and employers will continue to subject their employees to severe physical and emotional distress just for further profit. This human greed has to stop before it’s too late !


  2. Sarah’s pertinent and empathetic article reminded me of the fact that stress is immemorial…

    Homo sapiens are neurological organisms that have been obliged to confront and attempt to survive whatever presents itself as a threat to neurological equilibrium. Prehistoric humans had very short lives (e.g. average lifespan being 40 years) and had to navigate extremely-dangerous natural environments (e.g. large predatory mammals, poisonous plants and insects, difficult topography).

    Physiological and psychological stresses have been present in humans since c. 300,000 years ago: the modern era presents far more synthetic pressures and stresses within the constraints of polluted environments, and so the physiology of the human is changing in a different manner from that of prehistoric humans (i.e. evolution)…


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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !