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Burnout Is Real

Burnout is real. Trust me, I’m a doctor. :-)

Simply put, “burnout” is a state of exhaustion caused be excessive stress. This stress can be emotional, physical, or mental (cognitive). A quick glance at my previous article (Re-Think Pain) will refresh your memory on why these are important facets of your brain and wellbeing. Your brain — the neurocircuitry that controls your very being — is reliant on these emotional, mental, and physical inputs to function. Stress can deplete your brain’s reserves to thrive. Stress can burn you out!

Though job burnout is a hot topic in the medical field, it by no means is exclusive to only healthcare. An employee of any industry can suffer from burnout! One can experience a whole host of things including (but not limited to):

- A decrease in self-efficacy and concentration

- a decrease in productivity

- a decrease in satisfaction and motivation

- an increase in irritability, and headache

- a loss of purpose!

It can leave one feeling completely depleted not just in the workplace but even other aspects of life leaving the individual desperate for a recharge.

There are many proposed causes of burnout ranging from work/life imbalance to unclear expectations and there is no easy solution. A lot of it requires a good deal of soul-searching. On the bright side, many HR departments (and companies like LEON) are recognizing this and are implementing corporate wellness strategies to curb burnout.

I’ll be honest with you, not all of these strategies are winners, but there is something YOU can do in the immediate period of time. You can begin to take the steps to regulate your own stress! How do you do that? That’s a loaded question and perhaps one we will answer over time but I’m here to remind you that, even as an adult, you deserve “recess” and the world is your playground. YOU absolutely must PLAY.

PLAY is important. Even for adults!

Hopefully this isn’t new information. There are many articles all over the internet speaking about the importance of PLAY. Two major factors that constitute play (as per Dr. Rudy Nydegger) are :

1) it has to be entertaining or done for enjoyment

2) it has to be something that Is intrinsically motivating.

This can mean many different activities of various levels of physical exertion, but there is an extra added health benefit with using EXERCISE as a form of play.

In addition to the most obvious health benefits of improved physical fitness and weight loss, regular exercise can help regulate (and reduce) the body’s natural stress response. In addition, it can immediately and chronically help boost natural mood-enhancing neurochemicals in your body, such as endorphins. The summative effect is overall positive and why many people find regular exercise to be an effective way to take matters into their own hands and curb stress.

At times when I had been going to the gym regularly, I did feel a sense of accomplishment with each workout, however I (personally) never considered it to be PLAY. As I soon discovered a whole host of gyms and studios in my neighborhood — ranging from yoga to high-intensity interval training — did I really start exercising in a way that was not only more social, but also resembled PLAY. I started loving the sense of community in addition to the physical and mental gains.

The call to action here is to find time for PLAY and realize that your playground can very well be the hundreds of gyms and fitness studios already thriving in your very own neighborhood. It may not be the absolute answer to Burnout, but it certainly is a great place to start finding a solution to this ever-growing problem.

//Sagar Parikh MD



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