Dr. Jennifer Patterson, DO, MMH1. and Dr. Jean Eljay, PhD, MS, CMT, CHt, NLPc, AdvCH, CHt
One of the worst results of burnout is that it removes the joy, pleasure, and happiness from life. It is a creeping behavior that occurs slowly overtime with demoralizing effect. Burnout has three major components: 1) emotional exhaustion, 2) cynicism, and 3) a sense of perceived inefficiency. These three parts present themselves in subtle covert and sneaky ways. It is a loss of self, a loss of self-care, a loss of control, and a loss of being effective in life. The results of burnout occur very slowly, but over time they increase and increase. The depressing result, all too often, is an overwhelming desire to stay in bed and perhaps, never leave it. Burnout is a life
sucking occurrence. It fosters overwhelming anxiety and a dread of each coming day.
During the pandemic, the concept of burning out from work was limited to healthcare workers, top business executives, and/or other professionals who “lost their way” or “quit working at their jobs”. Today, anyone can experience the signs and symptoms of burnout. No matter what profession, occupation, or passion pursuit; our community is experiencing the effects of burnout.
Rarely, this attitude of giving up becomes an opportunity for a new beginning. More likely, burnout becomes a vehicle into isolation and sadness. This perhaps is the start of a downward spiral for the individual, their family, and their loved ones. The complications of burnout are severe. Burnout is linked to dysfunctional sleep and an ever-increasing sleep burden. Even healthy behaviors, for example, exercise becomes draining and in most cases is skipped completely. Junk food becomes a “go-to choice,” replacing a balanced and healthy diet. With the additional use of other addictive and unhealthy products, the stability of life takes a severe downward plunge. The couch sanctuary and online streaming become all-important “jobs”. It is almost an existential exhaustion unique unto itself. It is unlike depression, anxiety, or just a bad stretch of time. Who can be comfortable with this burden?
“I can’t care anymore. What does it matter what I do? I can’t change my life.”
Is there a way to restore health, thrive and grow beyond this self-limiting past? There are many paths to remove these deficits. Feeling better requires facing and solving the feeling of being continuously burdened by an overtaxed, an overdriven, an overly booked, and an overly committed schedule.
Healing begins with a daily commitment. To end the debilitating effects of burnout, it is necessary to restore self-esteem, self-purpose, self-worth, and self-motivation. Once begun, these “old friends” reconnect to establish a transformational path. This reconnection requires changes and effort. A 5-minute focused practice is a good place to start. Even such a small step will begin the process of healing. Once this personal process of healing is begun, it is possible to improve the overall life of the person. Small efforts are a beginning, no matter the chosen path.
There are many paths to success. Whether the process includes yoga, Qigong, meditation, running, swimming, mindfulness, weight training, tai chi, journaling, dance therapies, energy work, intentional calming walks, art therapy, massage, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, or many others, these paths diminish both the short- and long-term effects of burnout. The long-term benefits of cognitive behavioral hypnosis are well established in the medical literature. Outcome research documents the effectiveness of guided cognitive and behavioral hypnosis. In this way both the conscious and subconscious mind are enlisted. Together they diminish the negative effects of burnout. Recovering that spark and sustaining its continued existence in life can be accomplished solo. But sometimes healing also requires expert help.
Dr. Jennifer Patterson, DO, MMH is a physician of osteopathic medicine. She practices osteopathic manipulation, functional & integrative medicine, and mind-body medicine at Bucks County Center for Integrative Medicine. For more information or to schedule an appointment contact Dr. Jean Eljay’s office 484.574.1144 or email Dr. Jean @ email@example.com.