Misunderstanding the factors in the modern day plague of burnout.
In the below Washington Post article, the one glaring omission to factors leading to “burnout” is the exposure to electromagnetic fields and chemical emissions from our muriad of wireless devices now used today. The problem of workplace burnout and EMR and chemical emissions as a contributing factor was recognised in Sweden back in the 1990s by the Swedish Union of Clerical and Technical employees in Industry (see: https://www.emfacts.com/norisk/) . It was also examined in a 1999 report by the Swedish Public Health Committee. Written by Prof Robert Olin and titled “New Diagnosis: an explanatory model for neurological illnesses”. Also, the book “The Invisible Disease: The Dangers of Environmental Illnesses Caused by Electromagnetic Fields and Chemical Emissions” by Gunni Nordstrom is an essential read for people concerned with burnout” To quote from one review of Nordstrom’s book:
Are our workplaces and homes making us sick? Has the technology that was supposed to make life easier actually ruining our health? The possibilities are frightening.
The Invisible Disease explores the potential that electricity, computers, and commonly used chemicals could actually pose a health risk. In fact, the author presents that a growing number of people are becoming highly sensitive to light, electricity, and chemicals that most of us come into contact everyday. Their symptoms range from rashes and weakness to fatigue and burnout. Moreover, she states that research into these areas are discouraged and suppressed.
It really is a scary thought that the very things that were meant to make our lives easier may actually be harming us. Without empirical data and testing, we really have no idea how widespread the problem or how much of a risk that each of us are putting ourselves through each day.
In the below mentioned book “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski, the authors do not seem to recognise at all the above mentioned environmental factors in some cases of modern day burnout. Until the invisible factors of electromagnetic fields and chemical emission are addressed in the workplace and at home, the treatment and understanding of burnout will continue to be a misunderstood modern day illness.
From the Washington Post
From moms to medical doctors, burnout is everywhere these days
A common ailment is going around, and you probably know someone plagued by it. Caused in part by social media, the 24-hour news cycle and the pressure to check work email outside of office hours, it could hit you, too “” especially if you don”t know how to nip it in the bud.
Burnout is everywhere.
Books are being published about it, high-powered medical groups are raising alarms and ordinary people are feeling it. A recent report from Harvard and Massachusetts medical organizations declared physician burnout a public health crisis. It pointed out the problem not only harms doctors but also patients.
“Burnout is associated with increasing medical errors,” the paper said.
Ninety-five percent of human resource leaders say burnout is sabotaging workplace retention, often because of overly heavy workloads, one survey found. Poor management contributes to the burnout epidemic.
“Organizations typically reward employees who are putting in longer hours and replace workers who aren”t taking on an increased workload, which is a systematic problem that causes burnout in the first place,” says Dan Schawbel, research director of Future Workplace, the firm that conducted the survey along with Kronos.
“Mommy Burnout,” a book published last year by psychologist Sheryl Ziegler, resonated with women who had run themselves into the ground trying to be super mom (and dads made it clear they were burned out, too).
A new book, “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle,” by sisters Emily Nagoski (a health educator) and Amelia Nagoski (a choral conductor who was hospitalized for burnout) aims to help women, in particular, live a more balanced life.
Burnout is a term easily tossed around, the way somebody might claim to be starving when they”re simply hungry, or freezing when cold. That”s harmless if a person is describing a tired day or week. But somebody who is actually burned out should be prepared to take serious action because it”s a condition that needs attention.
Amelia Nagoski was juggling the demands of a doctoral program when she experienced such severe abdominal pain she was hospitalized. Doctors concluded it was “just stress” and told her to relax. Turns out, she had stress-induced inflammation from burnout.
Ziegler defines burnout as “chronic stress gone awry.” The big three symptoms are emotional exhaustion, cynicism and feeling ineffective, according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), a survey designed to measure employee burnout in the workforce. Other symptoms can include frequent colds or sicknesses, insomnia and a tendency to alleviate stress in unhealthy ways, such as with too much alcohol or online shopping.
Part of the difficulty of pinpointing true burnout may be because burnout is a nonmedical term “” at least in the United States. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders doesn”t list it as an illness. But other countries including France, Denmark and Sweden, do recognize burnout syndrome and consider it to be a legitimate reason to take a sick day from work.
“Everybody intuitively recognizes what burnout feels like in their bodies and their feelings and their thoughts,” Emily Nagoski says. “It”s like art: You know it when you see it.”
Even without an official diagnosis “” or agreed upon definition “” American researchers have studied burnout for decades. Psychologist Herbert Freudenberger popularized the term in the 1970s, basing it on his work with drug addicts where he witnessed their veins burn out from needle injections and their cigarettes burn down. Soon after, psychologist Christina Maslach developed the MBI.
Burnout is caused by chronic stress, not stressors, the Nagoskis say in their book. It”s important to differentiate the two. Stressors are external: to-do lists, financial problems or anxiety about the future. Stress, on the other hand, “is the neurological and physiological shift that happens in your body when you encounter [stressors],” the Nagoskis write.
To fix burnout, people need to address the stress itself. They must allow their body to complete its stress response cycle. Instead, people tend to focus on stressors. “They assume their stress will go away if they”re on top of things, if they”re accomplishing things and constantly checking things off their to-do list,” Emily Nagoski says.
That”s a lesson Paula Davis-Laack learned the hard way.
Davis-Laack practiced commercial real estate law before the Great Recession of the late 2000s. The fast-paced environment gave her a constant adrenaline high as she closed deals and kept so busy that she barely left time to grab a handful of peanuts for lunch. Her frequent headaches, stomach aches and colds threatened to drag her down, but no doctor could give her a diagnosis.
One day, drafting a document in her office, she says she felt like she couldn”t breathe. She bolted out of her chair and raced to a nearby health clinic. “Help me!” she gasped. She was having a panic attack. After two more medical crises landed her in the emergency room, she feared a mental or physical collapse if she kept going. She decided to walk away from the law.
“It was like a 50,000-pound weight lifted off my shoulders,” she says.
Still unsure of what was wrong, she poked around the Internet doing research of her own when she came across information on burnout. “I was like, “Oh my God, this is exactly what happened to me!”Β “
Davis-Laack traces the beginning of her burnout back to her teenage years.
“There were a lot of messages to be a high achiever,” she says. “Those check-the-box matrix measurements were important to me. I internalized them.”
The messages took an even stronger hold once she started working.
She returned to graduate school to study well-being, the effects of stress and their effect on the workplace. In 2013, she opened the Davis Laack Stress & Resilience Institute in Wisconsin. She now teaches workshops on burnout.
For those who suspect they might be on the road to burnout, there are practical tools to mitigate it. Among others: physical exercise, sleep and positive social connection (the real kind, not the Facebook kind). The importance of balance and self-care to prevent burnout likely isn”t surprising to most.
“There”s nothing fancy about what it would take to turn things around,” says Ziegler, the “Mommy Burnout” author. “But it”s a huge shift in the cultural mind-set. That”s the challenge.”
Plus, fixing burnout can feel like adding more stressors. An employee who takes a lunch break in a park (time in nature reduces stress) might feel pressured to stay late at the end of the day. A yoga class or walk is another item to squeeze into the calendar. A mom can”t quit her parenting job. To address time-management issues, the Nagoskis provide work sheets in their book to help readers reprioritize activities. Ziegler suggests setting boundaries with social media. Use the Internet for help, such as ordering groceries, but limit scrolling to 10 minutes a day. Also, it”s okay to remove activities from the calendar (or quit them completely) so you can exercise.
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