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How to Tell if You Have Burnout

Some say only your boss can cure it

In the early 1970s, a psychoanalyst named Herbert J. Freudenberger opened a free clinic to treat poor patients in New York City. It was a bit of a passion project: Freudenberger would work 10 to 12 hours during the day in his private practice, then head over to the free clinic to work until midnight or later. He seemed to realize that he was overcommitting. “You start your second job when most people go home,” Freudenberger wrote at one point. “And you put a great deal of yourself in the work.”

Eventually, he noticed that this free clinic, which had once brought him so much meaning and joy, was starting to wear on him. Many of his fellow physicians were becoming tired, snippy and cynical. Freudenberger diagnosed himself and his colleagues with what he called “burnout syndrome,” a state of perpetual exhaustion caused primarily by a person’s job. The burned out, he wrote, not only have bad attitudes; they have headaches, stomach problems, trouble sleeping and shortness of breath.

These days, almost everyone feels like Freudenberger in his 14th hour of work. Those who still have the energy to read the news might encounter dozens of articles about hitting the “pandemic wall” or suffering from “pandemic burnout.” Many people have now spent a year staying inside, avoiding friends and family, abstaining from travel and indoor dining, mourning the loss of hundreds of thousands of people and maintaining the same pace of work while caring for children round-the-clock and often single-handedly. Even people who have been calmly emailing their way through the apocalypse feel that their limit has been reached and they can go no further.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Atlantic.

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