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Let's help those who are burning in and out!

When people on social media are joking about burnout, I do not support these ‘funny’ discussions. My heart is breaking out, as I know how much everyone can do to help others to prevent it. We are social animals, and we can and should use our human energy, so others will feel better.

Let me bring some theory.

Not every bad mood should be called depression, and not every manager can be called a leader. If you are burning out, you are actually burning in and out, coloring every piece of your life with fires and smog. And seeing people on a burnout borderline, I want to hug them tight and not release them till they get strength.

Burnout has 12 different stages (by Freudenberger & North) , and even their sequence gives you a powerful picture of how you are falling down into its abyss. Climbing up is a hard job, and every next stage consumes the rest of your energy; actually, there is a rare way back…

Stage 1 starts with an excessive ambition to prove something to the voices in your head: your parents, ex-boss, or even your current manager. But the pressure is getting higher as this inner monster can gobble all our mental reserves.

Stage 2 pushes you to work even harder. Of course, as soon as you achieve something, you believe that it will be a recognition, not a monetary (!) reward. Nope, the voices will just get louder, because someone around is better than you, and you …. Have to work harder again!

At Stage 3, you start neglecting your own needs: no more lunches (a waste of time), no more chats with friends (useless), and family is a burden (they just do not understand!).

Stage 4 is when you start denying the problem. No-no, you have to have the work done, there is no time to figure out what is wrong. And even if deeper inside, you know there IS a problem, just no energy and time to handle it. Later…

At Stage 5, you start questioning your values. Well, you start believing that work is everything, and you were always that ambitious and money can help, and wine is better than a workout, and, and, and…

Stage 6 is not interesting; you just keep denying that everything is fine and more painkillers will help; you need new pills to relax, and probably alcohol again (our best friend by this time!). It is just a deadline, and you plan to relax during the weekend. Or, no, you plan to work during the weekend, as a new deadline is coming!

Stage 7, and we are closer to the end - withdrawal. Nothing starts to matter. No time for relations, no time for a burst of laughter. Even if there is time, you feel so small and so bad that you just start avoiding your smiley colleagues. Of course, they are just lazy and do not understand how much work we all have. But actually, they DO understand, and they are the healthiest than you. But you just can not; relations become so painful, so you tend to go into your own shell.

At Stage 8, others are getting concerned. If you are lucky enough to have someone at work who cares, they will recommend some rest. If you are lucky enough to have someone really smart at work, they will not allow you to be at stage 8 or at least start paying you more attention. But let's be honest, we all know that, most likely, it is too late. Where were you, smart people, at the stage of 3 or 4?!?

Stage 9 scares me the most - depersonalization. You start being so cynical that people do not like talking to you anymore. Your job is not the love of your life: it is meaningless and useless, and everything is others' fault. You feel that even your body failed you - you can not work anymore!

Stage 10 almost buries you: inner emptiness is your new identity. You feel lost, and you become so boring that people start avoiding you (those who, for any reason, did not leave during the previous stage). Well, the only good news here is that they will return one day if you try to drag yourself out. But… no energy at all…

At Stage 11, you get diagnosed with depression. Pills, psychotherapist (if you are smart enough, you may already have it for a few months). Nothing makes sense in this life anymore. Work is useless; life is pain.

Stage 12: you are cooked, and only 3-6-12 months may help you to recover. Or not, it depends on the fact that you start treating yourself seriously. Finally.


It is not that funny how to read the above. And it is really scary when your best performers may one day start showing some of these symptoms. Burnout is not a hype word everyone uses when they are lazy at work. Burnout is burning people inside out.

Do not joke about it. Just try to talk with someone who is sliding down. Talk and listen, and then I know I did not spend my evening uselessly writing this piece. :)