In this episode, you will learn the following:
1) What is burnout? (drawing heavily from Emily and Amelia Nagoski's book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle).
2) What is emotional exhaustion and why that leads to burnout. What is compassion fatigue and why that leads to burnout. What is Human Giver Syndrome?
3) Why burnout and chronic stress are harmful for the body.
4) Solutions offered to prevent and reduce burnout.
Welcome to the May for change podcast, formerly known as the unleash your inner power podcast. I am your host, Dr. Janny. Chang. Hello, hello, my friends, I hope you're having a wonderful week. And a great year so far. I know we have we've just hit the ground running 2022. And it's been so much fun. Lots of things going on. I also have some freebies coming. So please stay tuned to my podcast. Also, I would love to hear from you. So I'm going to pull a plug again. Email me Janny Chang one the number firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, give me feedback, write a review for the podcast. And also just contact me I'd love to work with you. I'd love to hear from you. This week, what I want to talk about is a really urgent and timely issue and it's on burnout, burnout because my specialty is on change career transitions, relationship transitions, especially with job and career transitions. And my last episode, I talked about how do you know when it's time to leave or quit your job? And I gave you seven questions to ask. Well, this week, I'm going to talk about burnout because burnout is one of the main reasons that people do decide to leave or quit their job, right. I'm going to go over some stats right now. In a 2021 survey a 1500 US workers more than half. So they were feeling burned out as a result of their job demands. A 4.3. So 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in December 2021. And I talked about that too. In the last episode. It's what referred to as the great resignation. So imagine that 4.3 million Americans quit their job. When people think of burnout, right? mental and emotional symptoms such as feelings of helplessness, feelings of anxiety, that'll come to mind, right, but burnout, it's actually it can be a physical symptom as well as severely affects the body. Right is not just merely an emotional response to long hours or a challenging job, right? The scientific evidence shows that burnout can take a physical toll on your physical body, right? And it's not just a state of mind, it is a condition that leaves its mark on the brain as well as the body. Right. So it's such an important thing to think about. How do you know if you have burnout? This whole episode is going to talk about what burnout is, what different people have to find it is how do you identify it and then I am going to go into some solutions to prevent burnout and how to cure it gradually. Okay. Now, how do you know if you have burnout? Burnout is a state of exhaustion. Okay, and many of the symptoms of burnout overlap with depression, extreme fatigue, loss of passion, cynicism and negativity. There was a report that was published by the World Health Organization organization that showed that high job demands low control and effort reward imbalance were risk factors for mental and physical health problems, and that they lead to burnout.
Okay, in the book, burnout, the secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily and Amelia Gorski They talk a lot about the definition of burnout, right? It was first coined as a technical term by Herbert Freudenberger in 1975. And burnout had three parts to it. The first is emotional exhaustion. So that's the fatigue, right? That comes from being emotionally invested in your job. And that could also include compassion fatigue, right? When you care too much and for too long, without boundaries. Okay, so that's the first part, emotional exhaustion. The second part of burnout is depersonalization. And that's when you just don't feel empathy, care or compassion anymore. That's your depersonalized. Right from the meaning of your job, right. The third is the is a decreased sense of accomplishment. And that's like a sense of just feeling that nothing you do makes a difference, right? It's a sense of futility. It's like, whatever I do is just, it's not gonna impact anyone. Right? So these three parts help define what burnout means. Here are some more interesting stats. Burnout is extremely prevalent in America 20 to 30% of teachers have moderately high to high levels of burnout actually think that numbers higher. Also, amongst university professors and international humanitarian aid workers, that rate is similar 20 to 30%. And I think it's, it's higher there as well. Among medical professionals, burnout can be as high as 52%. And I think that's even higher with the pandemic, right. Nearly all the research on burnout is on professional burnout, right people who help people like teachers and nurses, but a growing area of research is discusses parental burnout and caregiver burnout. For many women, the burden falls on them, right parenting, working, taking care of the family, sandwich generation, they have to take care of their children and their parents, a lot of the labor and the labor falls on women. Now, burnout happens when you become emotionally exhausted, right? And that can happen for a variety of reasons, right? One of the reasons is if you're exposed to a situation that is constantly activating emotion, right, and emotions are normal, right? We experience them every day, every moment, right? At their most basic level, they involve the release of neuro chemicals in the brain, in response to something that stimulates it, right? Maybe you see someone you like across the room, so your brain releases a bunch of chemicals. And that causes a bunch of physiological reactions, like your heart might be faster, your hormones change your stomach might flutter, right? You blush, you start thinking of fantasies of the future. And it propels you to want to go across the room and take action and say, hi, right, every part of your body reacts to these chemical responses that are triggered when you see that person. That's emotion, right? It happens. It's instantaneous. It happens anywhere, everywhere and affects everything.
What happens is when you get stuck in an emotion, emotions have a beginning, a middle and an end. And we are meant to cycle through them. Right To Be human, is to be able to move through the cycles, of being alive, to breathe in, to breathe out to feel the beginning, the middle and the end of the emotions, and then to start all over again, right. And even our connection with people were meant to be in connection with others, then we are alone. And then we connect again with others. We oscillate through these different states of being with ease. That's what it means to be human where emotional exhaustion comes in, is when we get stuck, and we can't find our way through in order to cycle through it through the beginning, middle and end. We actually have to let ourselves feel it. And so I think so many of us are taught to suppress emotion that it's bad to feel bad. You either try to resist it, get rid of it, or deny it. Right. And that only makes it worse, just because you've made the change, and you've fixed the problem doesn't mean that you actually dealt with the emotion itself, right? You can change relationships, you can change jobs. But the stress that you felt in the motions that you felt from having to go every day to a job that you didn't like, that stressed you out where your co workers and you didn't get along, right, that emotion is still there, even if you've left the job. So now, the job or the relationship is gone. And you think that's fixed your problems, but the emotions are still there, the emotions, the negative emotions that you felt the shame, the aggravation, the irritation, the fear, the anxiety, the anger. Another reason that emotional exhaustion sets in, leading to burnout is what the Nagasaki sister calls the human giver syndrome. And that's where we just are so down ourselves for falling short, and that we are constantly paying attention to the needs of others, while not paying attention to our own stress, that are generated in response to witnessing those needs, right. And we also don't pay attention to our own needs. Right? All of this gets accumulated in our bodies. And it leads to compassion, fatigue, right? And it's that's the primary cause of burnout among givers, right, and helping professions and compassion. Fatigue can include all kinds of symptoms, such as checking out emotionally faking empathy, minimizing or dismissing suffering, that isn't the most extreme.
You know, having a sense of grandiosity, feeling helpless, hopeless or powerless, right, you see that a lot of us is the same as burnout is compassion, fatigue, leads to burnout. Now, what happens if you're like, some of my clients who are dealing with parent fatigue, on top of that, they're in a job that requires a lot of giving. So they got to, they've got a combination of compassion, fatigue. And they also have bought into this patriarchal notion that as a woman, they have to be nice and cater to people, and please others. And so the smart and safe thing to do is when they're unhappy about something or something, someone does something to them, that makes them mad, they just have to shove it down and save it for when they get home. So that becomes the perfect storm for a breakdown. And that's where this person is not able to process and feel emotions, and also be able to complete the stress cycles every day. There's a lot of stress in this person's job, right. And she's not able to complete that stress cycle because she just goes home and does more work as a parent and then as a care caregiver, right, and isn't aware that she has to tend to her needs, right, that then can lead to chronic stress. And chronic stress is has all sorts of detrimental effects on your body, right where short term stress actually can activate the immune system, and can actually be good for you. But chronic stress is where we get into trouble. Okay, now that I've gone through what burnout is defined by different people, I want to talk about some solutions, okay, to burnout that's been posited by the McGuffey sisters, and by Dr. Andrew Haberman, who's a neuroscientist at Stanford University. And so here's the thing about burnout is you can reduce it, you can prevent it, and you can cure it. Does it take time? Yes. Does it take effort? Is it going to be uncomfortable? Sometimes? Yes, depends on which tool or strategy you're using. But the fact is, we have agency over reducing preventing and curing burnout. And so that's the good news. And that's what I'm going to talk about here. However, that doesn't mean that you should go ahead and make a job change, you shouldn't leave your job. It is just a reminder that no matter what change you're making, right, just like we talked about the emotions, the cycles and stress cycles, is that just because you get rid of a stressor, so it could be your job, could be a relationship just because you change it doesn't mean you've dealt with the root of the stress itself. Even so, let me repeat that. Even though you've dealt with the stressor, your body still needs to deal with it. The stress itself right. Now remember, our bodies are designed to respond to short term stressors like being chased by predator, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol and glycogen to prepare to survive. Now you either get consumed by the predator, or you make it out alive, right, you run your skip the predator, and then someone saved your life, you see that person and you're filled with gratitude, biochemically, this allows you to complete the stress cycle. Same with other situations that are very difficult. Even when you go through surgery, I was reading about, you know, C sections or going through surgery. And when I had my C section like to see sessions with my children, after each one, I had moments where I was just shivering and freezing. And I realized that that was actually a stress response, you know, because sometimes you have to shiver, it's like, these animals that are praised like a rabbit or a gazelle, that have to just shake it all out, you know, they, if they end up surviving, you know, and what helps them complete the stress cycle is to shiver, and shake and completely get it all out and they complete the stress cycle. Right. So
that was the same case with me when I had surgery. Right now, we're not being chased by predators, our stressors in modern life aren't things that threaten our survival in the short term, right? But we still have these everyday stresses, right? Especially when it comes to the pandemic, it comes to our jobs, it comes to parenting. So imagine years and years of incomplete activated stress response cycles in our bodies and what that does to us, that's what creates chronic stress, and that's what we want to prevent from happening. Alright, so that being said, I want to move on to potential solutions. Okay. The first is any movement so the gosee sisters say that any physical activity can help complete the stress cycle, it doesn't have to be that 20 minute peloton exercise, it could be anything dancing, yoga, walking, that Nia I just near, right. So any movement issues that even I think in an interview, even like just dropping down the ground several times, you know, that helps, right? So any movement is number one. The second thing is deep, slow breaths, deep belly breaths, okay? And that is scientifically proven to down regulate your body and bring it back to a more neutral state. And to complete the stress cycle. Okay, third, a 22nd hug with a loved one. This is scientifically proven a 22nd Hug Why isn't 21 seconds or 19 seconds? Apparently 20 Sorry, 20 seconds or more, right? 22nd hug or more, right? I love that. The fourth, a good cry. And this helps you actually process emotions, to feel it to feel sad to feel the grief, right and let it run through your body. And just allow yourself to embrace that.
Number five, and nap really helps. Number six positive social interactions, casual, friendlier actions that show that the world is a very safe place. Because we are we collectively co regulate with each other with other people. And things are things that you can do to prevent burnout. But what if you're already steeped in burnout, right? What can you do? And the key thing to remember is that it takes time, and that it's okay, if you still are holding on to residual anger or worry, or anything that's contributed to burnout before, right? So you may still feel that way even though you start implementing tools, right. So the first thing to acknowledge is that that's okay, that's totally okay. You're still going to have feelings and emotions, like worry and anger, right? Because, you know, you've spent a lot of years holding on to these emotions that have been unprocessed and have not been completed in that cycle. Right? So you have a lot of these accumulated stress response cycles, waiting for their turn. So it's not going to change overnight. So that's the first acknowledgement right. Second is to be kind to yourself, or you need kindness and compassion. And treat yourself like you would a child you know, like talk to yourself kindly. Right, and the main thing that matters is not that you reach This blissful state of like no stress, and therefore no burnout, it is that you are moving in the direction of more of less stress of, of less burnout, right, you're moving in the right direction. So maybe, you know, you were at a an eight, which is what caused burnout, because you're from a scale of one to 10. Eight is pretty high on a stress scale. But now that you started doing these using these tools, you're now at a six, right, that's what matters is you're moving in the right direction. What matters is not that you're at a two, you know. So there's no point in beating yourself up over that. So always show yourself kindness, and compassion. Okay. And then the third solution. Or if you're already steeped in burnout, one of the things to do is to take little steps every day, little steps. And one of the things that's suggested by Dr. Andrew Huberman is that the dopamine is powerful. And it's what gets attached to the route to your goal. So as you're pursuing a goal is a dopamine release that keeps you motivated, right. So people think people think that it's the outcome, like reaching the goal is what gives you the dopamine, but it's actually not it's the entire process is that growth mindset that you embrace. It's on route to that goal, specially when things are hard, right. And that's like high performers, tend to know that. It's not about the outcome or the goal. It's the process of who you become in the journey. And especially when they're about to quit, right? That's when they do these little tasks every day, every day to remind themselves, if I'm on the right track, I'm proud of myself, they celebrate every little milestone, especially when things are hard. So it's not just celebrating every single milestone, every single win, or every single step for its own sake. But it's when things are just getting really hard, they're challenging, and then you overcome it, and it's a little step that you took, then you celebrate it, you reward yourself. So the key thing to do is to write that down is to celebrate to show gratitude, right, like every little step in which you're making recovery from burnout, every little step in which you actually implement some of the tools that have been scientifically proven to reduce burnout, right, you are simply doing it and you're also celebrating it along the way, especially when it's really tough, like, especially when you just feel so exhausted, exhaustion will still come back, right. But on those hard days, those tough days, and to keep going right to keep implementing those tools to keep caring for yourself and prioritizing your needs, right, you want to go ahead and celebrate that, because it's proven that the dopamine will get released. And that's what's gonna keep you going. Okay, and it could be also just as simple as just showing gratitude, like thanking, showing appreciation writing list a gratitude list every day for what it is you're thankful for. And it doesn't have to be related to your job, whatever it is that's causing you stress, it could be just your life, right? It's better, it's even look at it as gratitude for something in your life, that what helps this process also, when you're steeped in burnout, is to attach a larger meaning to your recovery process, right. So what you might see as a small or individual action related to the larger purpose, a larger movement, right? So one example is self affirmations for your body, if you have gone through something where you are feeling burned out from parenting, and at the same time, you hate your body, you hate the the weight gain. Well, by attaching your affirmations in the face of that, like, I am amazing, I'm so hot, I'm so beautiful, but attaching those affirmations, to the larger movement, how you resisting the patriarchy, and how you're also helping to model how to talk to yourself, like body confidence and body self love to other young girls you're attaching it to, to larger purpose, that gives it meaning. And that also propels you to keep going. And that also actually helps with burnout helps cure burnout. Like if you're feeling burned out from from all of this, just attaching it to a larger significance purpose can really help right and even at workplace if you're feeling workplace stress, but then, you know, attaches yourself to a larger movement, whether it's, you know, talking collectively with people to make certain change, you know, to inspire other co workers. Or you think about oh, capitalism, right? Like every time that you enforce a boundary and you turn off your slack, you're resisting against this capitalistic structures that exploit people. So you attach to these larger structures that can really help you not only, like, follow through with it, follow through with enforcing those boundaries. But also it can motivate you, inspire you and keep you going. So that that can be leveraged against the burnout, burnout that you're experiencing. Okay. And then finally, finally, finally, finally, and I love this, I love this huge takeaway from the burnout book by the gosee sisters. And that's that always remember that self care is not the answer to burnout. It's simply all of us caring for each other.
That's what sets the cure for burnout is all of us caring for each other. I love this part, when they say when you think you need more grit, what you need is more help. When you think you need more discipline, what you need is more kindness. When you think someone else needs more grit, what they need is more help. And when you think someone else needs more discipline, what they need is more kindness, connection, and sharing support is the way out of burnout. Right? If you're feeling isolated, there's someone else who wants just as much to connect with you. As you do. We're healthier and stronger when we work together. You know, there's someone who's waiting and wants that kind of relationship that you desire. And when I loved love love about this, in terms of the cure to burnout being a collective response, is that yeah, it is not an individual process, right? Even when you're in your household and you're like, I want to prioritize sleep, you know, because they say, um, you know, you need a 42% of your day should be devoted to sleeping or resting your brain, right? Well, if you have kids, and you're in this collective or you have roommates, how will that happen, you've got to coordinate with people, your family's got to be on board to prioritize that along with you. Right? That might mean getting a babysitter that might mean your husband or your partner steps in. Right? That might also mean your roommate makes sure that there's no loud noise, because you want to make sure you can sleep, right? So it's a collective coordination. And it also means that you communicate to other people who say like, this is what I need, right? Like, it's not about people pleasing, it's about saying, I am going to prioritize my needs over the human givers syndrome, I'm going to say I have certain needs, and I would like us to find a solution to make sure that I get those needs met. Right. And so how courageous is that to go ahead and step forward and voice that for yourself? Right, and to do it in a collective process? Right. So something like sleep, that's a collective process, something like even you know, caregiving, you know, you, you know, look out for other caregivers, and you can, you know, make sure it's okay, something even as simple as just affirmations for them, like, you are so amazing. Do you know how strong you are? Do you know how incredible you are and loving and compassionate, make sure you also meet your needs, make sure you eat today, make sure you shower, make sure you know you do something nice for yourself. Something like that. Even saying that in passing to your caregiver friend or your online Facebook group of caregivers, that makes a huge difference. You know, teachers looking out for other teachers, parents looking out for other parents, right? And it doesn't have to be so complicated. It doesn't have to be like, Oh, I have to do X, Y and Z you buy them gifts or bring them food. No, it could just even be as simple as texting them or messaging them. So you know what you're amazing at? Do you know that I need to remind you that, that you are doing an amazing job. And you're such a great part of loving human being and I'm so glad you're my friend, right? It's that connection with others, that's going to pull all of us out of burnout. Okay, so I hope I hope this has helped somewhat have gone through how to identify burnout. And I've gone through solutions that don't necessarily have to do with making that career change or job change. Which doesn't mean that you shouldn't make those changes. It just means that you're going to be that much stronger and armed with these tools and strategies that help you deal with the burnout before you make the change or even In the process of making the change. Alright my friends, I am so happy to be here. I really hope to hear from you. The next episode I'm going to talk about boundaries and burnout. And we're going to go over all the different steps. Okay, but I hope you found this useful. leave a review, give me feedback, contact me. Have an amazing, amazing day.