Dr Lee

Definition of Burnout: The feeling that your head is about to blow, your eyes cross, and a little squiggle appears above your head like when Charlie Brown gets foiled.

When I think about burnout, it is really a spectrum. Burnout is the extreme, but there are many lesser forms. We usually relate Burnout to work, but it doesn’t have to be. It can also happen in relationships, particularly with chronic pain or chronic medical conditions.

There are some root causes of Burnout. I call them the W5H (Five W’s and one H). You Work too much. From experience I can tell you that 40 hours is actually a pretty good number of hours to work per week. You Work too long. In a 24 hour period, you work more than 8 hours. You sacrifice sleep. Your Work is not varied. In other words, your job consists of doing the same things day-in and day-out without a change in routine. You Work during family time, such as weekends, birthdays, and vacations. You Work without control over your environment. You are given responsibility to fix problems without the authority to fix them.

The last is Home. Your home is not a sanctuary. When you go home you feel that you are going back to work.

Sometimes there is not a lot you can do about these things. A tip I can give you is this -- if too many W’s and H are off, you are going to get Burnout. The results of Burnout can be very serious, ranging from hurt relationships to suicide. Don’t let Lucy pull your football, Charlie Brown!