It’s a term that’s bantered around a lot these days. But, what is burnout, really?
Herbert Freudenberger, a German-American psychologist first coined it in 1974. It’s broadly defined as "physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress”.
Americans are not alone with this problem. In fact, dozens of countries have experienced their own versions of burnout. From Karoshi disease in Japan, which literally translates to “death by overwork”, the increase in stress-related sick days in Germany, to work-related suicides in France, the impact of working too hard is taking a worldwide toll.
There are many reasons people overwork or stay in a state of perpetual busyness.
Most reasons are based in a fear of losing something important—jobs, financial security, respect of co-workers, the next raise or promotion or even the affection of a parent or loved one.
Making choices out of fear usually takes people in a direction that is counter-productive and even dangerous to their health and well-being.
Yet for many, acting out of fear evokes a knee-jerk response that’s rooted in self-protection, made without a rational thought process.
Over-doing it can become a habit, but one that can be unlearned with the first step of awareness.
Then next time you find yourself overworking and wishing you could enjoy more of life, think about what is driving you.
If it is fear of something that has not yet happened, bring yourself back to today and consider your options in real time. Perhaps some of the resources listed on our website may help you gain a different perspective.