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Dr. Beverly Potter

Negative emotions

It's normal to feel frustrated, angry, depressed, dissatisfied or anxious occasionally. But if you're caught in the burnout cycle, you usually will experience these negative emotions more and more often, until they become chronic. Eventually, you will feel emotional fatigue.
Interpersonal problems
When you feel emotionally drained, it becomes harder to deal with people at work and at home. When the inevitable conflicts arise, you're likely to overreact with an emotional outburst or intense hostility. This makes communicating with co-workers, friends and family members increasingly difficult. Some burnout victims are also apt to withdraw socially. The tendency to withdraw is most pronounced among "helping" professionals, who often become aloof and inaccessible to the very people they are expected to help.
Health problems
As your emotional reserves become depleted and the quality of your relationships deteriorate, your physical resilience declines. You may frequently experience minor ailments, such as colds, headaches, insomnia and backaches. In general, you feel tired and rundown.
Below-par performance
During the burnout process, you may become bored with your job or lose enthusiasm for your projects. Or you may find it difficult to concentrate. You become less productive and the quality of your work declines.
Substance abuse
To cope with the stress associated with job conflict and declining performance, you may find yourself drinking more alcohol, using more drugs, eating more (or less), drinking more coffee and/or smoking more cigarettes. Increased substance abuse further compounds your problems.
Feelings of meaninglessness
More and more, you find yourself thinking "so what" and "why bother?" This is particularly common among burnout victims who were once very enthusiastic and dedicated. Your enthusiasm is replaced by cynicism. Working seems pointless.

From OVERCOMING JOB BURNOUT: HOW TO RENEW ENTHUSIASM FOR WORK by Dr. Beverly Potter, published by Ronin Publishing, 1998, $14.95. Copyright 1980, 1983, 1989,1993, 1998, 2005: Beverly A. Potter.

This material may be copied for your personal use as an individual. All personal copies must carry the previous copyright notice. Any other use requires wirrten permission from Beverly Potter. To reprint for any other purpose, contact Ronin Publishing, Inc. , 510-420-3669, FAX 510-420-3672, PO Box 3008, Oakland, CA 94609.

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