What is burnout?
Burnout occurs when you push yourself too hard for too long. It may occur if you are overworked and pressed for time, rushing from one task to the next without stopping to rest.
Herbert J. Freudenberger first described burnout in 1974. Freudenberger defined burnout based on his own and the experiences of other volunteer workers while working as an unpaid psychiatrist in an alternative health clinic. He claimed that various physical symptoms and a sense of exhaustion and fatigue were all signs of burnout (for example, headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, sleeplessness, and shortness of breath).
According to the International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, the World Health Organization’s manual that aids medical professionals in diagnosing diseases, burnout is now a recognized medical diagnosis.
The ICD-11’s section on problems relating to employment or unemployment now includes burnout. According to their manual, a patient can be diagnosed with burnout if they show any of the following signs:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- reduced professional efficacy
Signs of burnout
The main signs of burnout include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Headaches or chest pain
- Increased illness
- Loss of appetite
- Increased irritability
- Loss of interest in activities
Causes of Burnout
Among the many work-related factors thought to contribute to burnout are:
- Work overload
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Lack of recognition from management and client demands.
- Several of the perceived causes of burnout are related to management and leadership within the workplace.
- Other factors, such as financial and marital issues, and caregiving for family members, were also perceived as causes of burnout.
- Inflammation in the body
Burnout can occur in any area of life (not just work) and affect all aspects of life. It’s a messy mix of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that can drag us down to a place we don’t want to be.
Burnout symptoms have become medically recognized. The work of surviving a pandemic has made us sick. As a primary-care physician, I see the physical consequences of collective trauma—high blood pressure, headaches, and herniated discs. And this is before many people have returned to work or resumed their pre-pandemic routines.
Being human entails risk in and of itself. It’s time to reframe burnout as the psychological and physical effects of accumulated stress in all areas of life, including work, parenting, caregiving, and managing chronic illness. People need more than a shot and a break to get back to their normal lives after the pandemic. They also need tools to help them recover from more than a year of trauma, and they need to know that what they went through was real.
Physical rehabilitation for burnout patients
Through examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and physical intervention, physical rehabilitation (also known as physiotherapy) support the promotion of mobility, functional ability, quality of life, and movement potential.
A substantial amount of scientific research points to the benefits of exercise interventions for burnout patients. Therefore, exercise therapy could be a helpful intervention technique for the management of burnout.
Benefits of physical therapy
Several studies have shown that physical therapy can help employees deal with the negative effects of burnout on their health. Exercise can be used for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention when necessary.
Regular exercise and physical activity could be effective ways to lessen burnout. “Any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure” is referred to as “physical activity” by the WHO.
Burnout treatment by using physical therapy
Research conducted by Therese Stenlund found “A large variety in the “dose” and type of physical activity was applied in the selected studies.” It was also found that engaging in physical activity once or twice a week for 4 to 18 weeks has promising effects on preventing and reducing burnout symptoms. This effect may be especially noticeable in previously inactive employees and clinical populations that show high compliance with the physical activity intervention. Previous cross-sectional research has also shown that employees who are more tired may find it harder and be less motivated to start and keep up with the exercise.
Aerobic exercise was defined as physical activity in the majority of studies. But it became clear that flexibility and strength exercises (like yoga, pilates, and resistance training) could reduce burnout symptoms. This is in line with previous research that found non-aerobic exercise to be good for depression.
Researchers have found that people with chronic burnout syndrome have trouble thinking, and burnout patients often feel sad. It has been shown that physical activity, especially aerobic fitness training, improves brain function and cognition and helps get rid of depression.
An uncontrolled study discovered that FaR in primary health care changed patients’ behaviours toward a more physically active lifestyle and improved their quality of life after six months.
Freudenberger published advice on burnout prevention in 1974. Since emotional and mental exhaustion is a sign of burnout, meditation and yoga should not be part of physical activity. He thought physical activity should be more active and make the person tired.
Individualized physical activity should be used to get the patient more interested in living an active life. Patients who have been tired for a long time may need help getting more active. Other patients with a high level of physical activity due to their anxiety may need to reduce their activity level and perform exercises focusing on body awareness and mindfulness.
The responsible parties, namely the officer at the Social Insurance Agency, the employer, the responsible physician, and the patient, should develop a structured activation plan and coordinate rehabilitation. Some patients may require assistance in changing their jobs. Most patients, however, could return to their regular jobs with assistance at work.
Individual adjustments at work may be required, as secondary prevention and gender aspects must be considered. People say that domestic stress makes it hard for women to get better, so men and women should do about the same amount of unpaid work. The employer could also modify the work environment to include preventive strategies for women. For example, women may not have much time outside of work to do physical activities because they also have to take care of their homes.
Contact Apollo Physical Therapy Centres for help!
If you want to know more about treating burnout with physiotherapy in Ottawa, contact our office. We are a team of experienced physios who can help you recover from burnout. We will ensure that your physical health and well-being are taken care of. Our specialized treatments will help you get back to feeling your best. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information or to book an appointment.