Energy and Exhaustion. Are you burned out?

Image of people jumping at the beach at sunrise

Exhaustion has become an unspoken disease. It is prevalent at all levels of humanity and is nearly part of everyday life in the 21st century. But it is rarely mentioned in conversations nor taught at schools or as part of the curriculum of life.

However, it can be the precursor to many changes in the chapters of life, such as family breakups, school and college failures, mental health issues, depression, suicide, sicknesses, burnout, and loss of jobs.

We will give its definitions and causes and discuss methods to prevent this from happening.

What is exhaustion? From the human point of view, it is a total loss of power. People have no more strength or energy to do anything.

An exhausted person feels weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy that does not go away when you rest.

It can be physical, mental or a combination of both

Some of the causes in day-to-day life are

  • Excess of Alcohol or drug use,
  • Excess physical activity,
  • Jet lag disorder,
  •  Lack of physical activity,
  • Medications that include antihistamines, cough medicines,
  • Insufficient sleep, and
  • Unhealthy eating habits.

(MayoClinic.org)

 In the workplace, it shows up mainly where the energy that does not flow. Often a Toxic environment. The employees frequently complain about the following:

  • Lack of control. The inability to influence decisions that affect their jobs — such as their schedule, assignments or workload —. Absence of resources they need to do their work.
  • Unclear job expectations. They are often unclear about the degree of authority they have or what supervisors or others expect, and they are not likely to feel comfortable at work.
  • Dysfunctional workplace dynamics. Perhaps there is an office bully, and they feel undermined by colleagues, or their boss micromanages their work. It can contribute to job stress.
  • Extremes of activity. When a job is monotonous or chaotic, it needs constant energy to remain focused — which can lead to fatigue and job burnout.
  • Lack of social support. If a person feels isolated at work and in their personal life, they might feel more stressed.
  • Work-life imbalance. If work takes up so much time and effort that you have no energy to spend with your family and friends, you might burn out quickly.
  • (MayoClinic.org)
  • The jobs that have a heavy workload and long work hours.
  • One of the most common causes of exhaustion is Working in a helping profession, such as health care or teaching.

Apart from exhaustion at work, there exists a sector that is often ignored, which is Mum’s burnout.

Its characteristic of chronic stress and exhaustion is related to the relentless caregiving demands of a mother or father. This epidemic is exceedingly high in women who have full-time careers or are without a co-parent. Mom burnout can make mothers feel ineffective and lack confidence as parents while simultaneously experiencing the pull to be a better parent amidst feelings of disconnect with their children. The different symptoms of mums exhaustion are :

  • Being “short-tempered.”
  • Feeling emotionally depleted
  • Feeling disconnected or isolated from others, including one’s children
  • Feeling mom guilt about behaviours, reactions, thoughts or feelings
  • Feeling parental guilt or like you’re an inadequate parent
  • Feeling anxious or overly focused on what comes next
  • Experiencing mom rage— being hostile or having extreme emotional highs and lows
  • Questioning life choices such as regretting having children
  • Entertaining “escapist” fantasies
  • Extreme feelings of “never good enough” at home or work
  • Concerns that your children deserve someone “better” than you
  • Disconnection from partner/co-parent
  • Social fatigue prevents you from tapping support networks
  • Inability to ask for support or state one’s needs

(Choosingtherapy.com )

These Mums rarely ask for help as they think it is their duty as “MUMS”.

Our society has forgotten that in the past and still in the present times, in many cultures, a child is raised by a whole tribe, including aunties, uncles, and grandparents.

Another sector that is affected by exhaustion is schools, and it is also not published extensively.

Burnout in school happens when students face ongoing stress or frustration—with no time to relax and recharge. Well-meaning teachers, family, and professionals can accidentally contribute to burnout in children. (uopeople.edu)

Burnout is also a significant problem in college. A 2021 Boston University study found that more than half of the 33,000 surveyed college students experienced anxiety or depression. And 83% of respondents said their mental health hurt their academic performance. ( bestschools.org)

(Edumed.org)

In students, the Exhaustion/ burnout symptoms are:

  • Tiredness, no matter how much sleep they get.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Lack of creativity.
  • Increased irritability.
  • Problems in focusing.
  • Loss of interest.
  • High frequency of illness.
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression.
  • More pathological symptoms are Head and body aches, upset stomach, sleep issues, chronic fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, changes in appetite and weight, frequent illnesses, such as colds and flu, and a general sense of unwellness. The Brain function reduces.
  • Some get Mood swings and a short temper making them prone to feeling down.

As for the mothers, these symptoms are considered normal; however, they affect performance.

Exhaustion or burnout exists across the board, from schools to the highest levels of big companies and governments. It can occur at any age and social status. I would now like to talk about the definition of exhaustion.

A time frame of development of symptoms.

Most people by 18 are very enthusiastic about their future, looking forward to a new life. They are full of energy.

Many have already done odd jobs and have a balanced life of work and play. We want to stress the word “energy”. Our body is full of energy. We can do sports, dance, go out and meet friends.

However, pressure to perform affect some student.

According to a survey, the average worker is experiencing career burnout at the age of 32. (TheGuardian.com)

Another survey found that burnout levels reduce with increasing age in men. Still, the association was bimodal in women, with women aged between 20-35 and over 55 years showing the highest burnout level. These results suggest that burnout symptoms varied considerably according to working men’s and women’s life stages.

(https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29912439)

So how do we get to the point of being exhausted? What happened?

We will describe body and mind exhaustion from the energy point of view.

The true meaning of exhaustion is a total lack of energy for the body and mind. We can not recharge ourselves. For a person to work correctly, the body needs to maintain a certain energy level. What kind of energy do we require to operate, and where does it originate from?

Sources of Energy.

Energy comes from four primary sources in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and the inner self(Tony Schwartz

and Catherine McCarthy, 2017.) We are going to talk about these four sources of energy

The Physical Energy. 

For physical stamina, it is necessary to have adequate nutrition, exercise, sleep, and rest. These factors are critical to be able to get the body and mind to function and be able to manage any stressor.

The Emotional Energy.

People’s awareness of their emotions and how they feel at various times of the day and night can improve the quality of their energy, regardless of the external pressures,

Most people tend to perform best when feeling positive energy. However, we’re not always capable of sustaining highly positive emotions for long periods.

One way of keeping this high energy level is by meditating in the morning.

The relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves.

There’s scientific evidence showing how meditation works. In people who are meditating, brain scans called MRIs have shown increased activity in areas involved in attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception. Tension and tightness seep from muscles as the body receives a subtle message to relax. Written by Jeanie Lerche Davis, WebMD

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD, on March 01, 2006

It calms the mind and body and improves and sets the energy for the day. It has been used in schools and prisons, where meditation or mindfulness has enhanced cognitive capacity, concentration and calmness.

Suppose they do not take time to meditate, confronted with relentless demands and unexpected challenges. In that case, people tend to slip into negative emotions—the fight-or-flight mode—often multiple times in a day. They become irritable and impatient or anxious and insecure. Such states of mind drain people’s energy and cause friction in their relationships. Fight-or-flight emotions also make it impossible to think logically and reflectively. When people learn to recognise what events trigger their negative emotions, they gain a greater capacity to take control of their reactions.

(Tony Swartz 2017)

The energy of the mind.

Nowadays, many people think that they can save time by multitasking.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance (Vol. 27, No. 4) indicates that multitasking is less efficient because it takes extra time to shift mental gears every time a person switches between tasks. It can take 25% more time to finish the job than doing one job at a time.

(Tony Swartz and Catherine McCarthy (2017)

Personal values 

Values are the principles that help a person decide what is right and wrong and how to act in various situations:

When people follow their life values and purposes, they typically feel more positive energy, focus better, and demonstrate remarkable perseverance. If the task required follows an individual’s value, they will perform better, be happier, and the company will gain so much more because of the excellent performance.

Unfortunately, the high demands and fast pace of working life in the 21st century do not leave much time to pay attention to these issues, and many people don’t even recognise meaning and purpose as potential energy sources. Managers are often unaware of using their staff’s values to reach their peak performance, which would increase their business productivity.

Exhaustion then comes from an imbalance of one or more of these human energies, Physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. It declares itself as exhaustion, disease, or burnout. The fact is that different individuals react differently to the same stress triggers, pressures, and world demands, depending on their cultural background, education, values, and mental and physical status.

Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy( 2017) have written a paper talking about the effect of energy on the performance of business people.

They concluded that considering a person’s physical conditions, values, emotions, and mental energy will make them much less prone to exhaustion and burnout and happier.

It is up to the managers of the companies, offices, hospitals, schools or small businesses to grow awareness. There is an unbelievable increase in personal and whole business performance and reduced burnout, sick leave and turnover if they manage their enterprises considering individual energy needs.

Conclusion.

We can avoid exhaustion and burnout by being more aware of our energy source and how to manage it.

Our society needs to shift from a structured mob mentality (all do the same ) to an awareness of personal needs and performances. The needs of the Society have surpassed individual needs. The individuals have given their power away. Many find themselves in exhaustion/ fatigue and burnout and abandoned.

It is important more and more to increase personal awareness, be aware of your powers and limits and learn how to recharge. Fear of failing and losing a job is often the trigger of abandoning ourselves to the needs of society, but in the long run, we pay a very high price that can cost us our physical and mostly our mental health.

Managers need to shift their thinking and paradigm and be more aware of the team as individual human beings, finding ways of recharging each individual’s energy, not needing them only to reach the company goals.

*Meditation Balances the Body’s Systems

The mind, heart, and body can improve with regular meditation.

Written by Jeanie Lerche Davis

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD, on March 01, 2006

FROM THE WEBMD ARCHIVES

*Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time Harvard Business Review. Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy(October 2007)

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