Burnout is often called Executive Burn Out because it happens to a particular type of situation or character who is under constant pressure to perform and who, importantly, always tries to do everything to a very high standard, even when it isn’t humanly possible. However burnout can happen to anyone who keeps going as infinitum without considering their health above all the other things that” need” doing. It happens to people who are extremely active and often “take on more than they can chew.
Certain habits or patterns are associated with Burnout:
- High Octane- always busy and on the go. Definitely not your couch potato
- Lack of clear boundaries as to what is reasonable/ acceptable, which may express itself in an inability to say no, even when unrealistic demands are asked of us.
- a belief that “ it must be reasonable if someone is asking me to do it” ie others must be right.
- Highly conscientious and hard working
- People whose identity is hard wired to the work ethic, to doing a good job, giving it your best and self respect is dependent on being/ being seen to be competent.
- Concern about failure and consequences of not keeping going
- The Graceful Swan Syndrome: Calm on the outside and paddling like fury to get through the tasks on the inside. Thus, people appear to be coping outwardly but internally feeling strain, pressure and worrying that they should be able to manage.
- Inability to ask for help or say “ this is too much”.
At the time of Burnout, there may have been other life events presenting challenges and there were simply too many plates to deal with at the same time or there could have been a slow burn out with long term patterns or challenges to deal with.
Once the body can no longer sustain the relentless pace it is being put through, it starts to run on reserves of adrenaline and other “superhuman” chemicals, to pump us up in order to keep going. However, the body is not intended or designed to live in this physiology consistently or for too long and within a few months chemicals such as cortisol kick in to deal with chronic challenges and ultimately to shut down the body. The natural 24hr cycle becomes disrupted and disrupted sleep patterns contribute to the system needing to shut down even more. The body goes through a see- saw period of trying to correct the physiology ( called Homeostasis or resistance period ), making it wired then shutting it down, running hot and cold. It will pump digestive chemicals into the system to correct the process when digestion had been inhibited because it was running on these superhuman chemicals. Eventually, the body then resets the default mode so that it runs in the wrong physiology automatically and persistently.