Burnout For Dummies
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Knowing how much burnout you may be experiencing may begin to give you clues about how to tackle the whole phenomenon of burnout in your life. Shall we see how you fare on the burnout quiz?

Note that whatever you score on this quiz, it is not a representation of you being “good” or “bad” but rather a guide to let you know what you may want to focus on or what sort of support you need to become the thriving and happy person you want to be.

Discovering just how burned out you feel

Take some time to consider the following statements and assign each one a number based upon how well it applies to you, using the following scale:
  • Not At All: 1 point
  • Rarely: 2 points
  • Sometimes: 3 points
  • Often: 4 points
  • Very Often: 5 points
Statement Score (1–5)
I’ve got a short fuse these days and have a tendency to get irritated or angry quite easily over things that used to not bother me much.
I've got no gas in the tank. I feel physically and emotionally drained.
When I think about my work, I feel like a “Debbie Downer” in my negative attitude.
I wonder how I ended up in this job or role and find myself wishing for something else.
I find myself being less kind and sympathetic to other people and their issues than I ought to be.
My co-workers and people in my life tend to tick me off more than they used to.
I question the purpose and meaning of my work or my profession, longing for another situation or a simpler time.
The people I work with and for don’t seem to appreciate or understand me.
I would like to be able to talk with others about how I feel, but nobody seems available or interested.
I feel that I could be achieving more than I am, but I just can’t seem to do it.
I find myself feeling weirdly disconnected from my work and from other people, as if I am going through the motions and not really there.
I sometimes feel like my work is a pressure-cooker to succeed, and I’m the meal being cooked!
I feel less satisfied with the work I produce or do.
I get aggravated with basic aspects of my job or what I am asked to do.
I feel that I am unable to do the best job because of politics, bureaucracy, or systems outside of my direct control.
I feel more and more like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to my work. I question whether I fit.
The amount of work I have to do always seems to come at me faster and heavier than I can manage.
I think I would like to do a better job, but the time just isn’t there to do it.
I sometimes feel like the tail of the dog, where I get wagged around but don’t get to have a role in determining my own future and activities.
I find myself wondering if I’m burned out, and people give me advice for how to feel better.

What the results mean … and what they don’t mean

When you total up your score, see how it compares to the scale below:
20–40 No obvious signs of burnout. Time to find ways to flourish!
41–50 Burnout seems unlikely, unless you have a few 4s or 5s
51–70 The caution light is on. You could be at risk for burnout.
71–90 Time to take some action (keep reading), as burnout is likely.
91–100 The red lights are flashing, and you need to act now.
It is important, first and foremost, not to let this simple, unscientific quiz take on too much importance overall. It’s a great way to get a quick snapshot of your experience from all angles and to get a general sense of your concerns and how intense they are.

This quiz definitely is an informal assessment of burnout, and while it may feel as if it gets at the heart of burnout, it is not scientifically validated. It is what psychologists call face valid in that it appears, on the face of it, to capture burnout, but we can’t really say for sure that it truly measures the syndrome of burnout.

Use your common sense in interpreting what the results of this quiz means, and if you are seeking a truly rigorous, empirically valid measure of burnout, the Maslach Burnout Inventory is the industry standard for such things. It can be purchased from Mind Garden, its publisher.

Nonetheless, your score may be pointing to where you stand when it comes to burnout symptoms, especially when you pay close attention to which statements rated at 4 or 5.

Remember to acknowledge that you have already taken a decisive action toward reducing and eliminating burnout in your life. You may find that knowing your relative score on the quiz helps you determine how you may want to proceed. Specifically, the higher your score, the more likely you are to benefit from the book Burnout For Dummies.

Burnout first aid

While there are no quick fixes when it comes to burnout, despite how much well-meaning advice there is floating around to that effect, there are some things you can do right this moment if you are alarmed about your level of burnout or feeling particularly discouraged or depressed by your apparent predicament.

Most importantly, if your burnout feels well beyond your capacity to manage it and you may be clinically depressed or feeling suicidal, reach out for professional help immediately. If you're in immediate crisis, you can dial 9-8-8 for the national 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is comprised of more than 200 local crisis centers.

If you have an employee assistance program at work, do not hesitate to take advantage of that resource, and if you don’t have that resource, seek out local resources for psychological support and treatment above all else. Burnout is serious, and the impact of burnout can be devastating to the person and the people around them.

Aside from seeking professional assistance to manage the effects of burnout, there is great wisdom in the advice you often get from others about self-care — not as a “treatment” for burnout or a cure-all, but simply as a way of creating the tiniest bit of space and relief from the most painful aspects of burnout for now.

Let go of needing that self-care (a pedicure, a good run in the park, a beer with the guys, or a night of binge-watching mindless TV shows on Netflix) to be the be-all, end-all response to burnout. Take the pressure off that simple act of self-kindness to be your savior and allow it to be a simple distraction and a bit of a reset that can help you clear your head, break a downward spiral, and create just enough headspace to chart a course forward.

This moment, however, do consider simply asking yourself a very straightforward question: What do I need? There’s no need to make the answer complicated or lofty (for example, a brand new job, a promotion, or a vacation in Fiji). Instead, ask yourself what you need in this moment. Perhaps it’s just five minutes to simply sit and breathe, or a good hot cup of tea, or a walk in the neighborhood.

Even simply peeling your attention off the computer screen for a few minutes may be the answer to the question. Offer yourself whatever you need without expectation that it will make anything change, but only because in this moment, you need it. Let it be unconditional and sweet and without obligation. Savor it while you can and move on.

“What do I need?” is the fundamental question of self-compassion, that you can find out more about in chapter 9, but you already have the capacity within yourself to begin giving yourself more of what you need. No special training required. Give it a shot and let it be for now.

You may also discover that you aren’t sure what you need, which is okay for now, too. Simply honor yourself and how you feel, and see what comes up for you.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Eva Selhub is a board-certified physician, speaker, scientist, executive leadership and performance coach, and a consultant in the field of corporate wellness and resilience. She focuses on helping individuals and corporations alike to become resilient, avoid or manage burnout, and achieve transformational health and wellbeing. She has been published in medical journals and featured in national publications including The New York Times and USA Today.

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