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Support: Dealing with Stress in the Workplace

Burnout [2.10.3.a]

Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest.
provides a comprehensive overview of burnout.  

Difference between Stress and Burnout

According to Rowland Croucher in Stress and Burnout in Ministry[1], stress and burnout differ by the following:
Characterized by over-engagement
Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are over-reactive
Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity
Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy
Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders
Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical
Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely
May make life seem not worth living

Twelve Phases of Burnout

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have theorized that the burnout process can be divided into 12 phases, not necessarily followed sequentially[2]:
  • A compulsion to prove oneself
  • Working harder
  • Neglecting one's own needs
  • Displacement of conflicts (the person does not realize the root cause of the distress)
  • Revision of values (friends or hobbies are completely dismissed)
  • Denial of emerging problems (cynicism and aggression become apparent)
  • Withdrawal (reducing social contacts to a minimum, becoming walled off; alcohol or other substance abuse may occur)
  • Behavioral changes become obvious to others
  • Inner emptiness
  • Depression
  • Burnout syndrome

How Burnout is Measured

The most studied measurement of burnout in the literature is the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Maslach and her colleague Jackson first identified the construct "burnout" in the 1970s, and developed a measure that weighs the effects of emotional exhaustion and reduced sense of personal accomplishment. The Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) is a widely used measure of three specific aspects of the burnout syndrome: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment. A link to information on burnout is provided at Maslach’s Six Core Dimensions of Burnout [2.10.3.a.1]
[1] Croucher, R. (2009, December 15). Stress and burnout in ministry. Retrieved from
[2] Ulrich Kraft, "Burned Out", Scientific American Mind, June/July 2006 p. 29-33

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