When we think of burnout, we may typically imagine a wealthy man in his 50s going through a mid-life crisis, quitting his high-paying job as a lawyer, and escaping to Scotland to keep sheep.
However, burnout can take on many forms and affect people from all walks of life, regardless of age.
1. For instance, there’s the 28-year-old auditor who works 70 hours a week.
Consumed by stress, he tries to calm himself by indulging in junk food and beer.
The job differs significantly from what he imagined in college, and he’s changed his mind about staying in the profession. So he dreams of switching careers and pursuing a more fulfilling life, but he tells himself that soldiering on for two more years will secure the big promotion.
He’s convinced that, otherwise, the miserable time at the company would go to waste.
He’d like to start a family, but living and breathing the job that doesn’t allow him to get enough sleep, not to mention having time for a relationship, leaves him exhausted and miserable.
2. Then there’s the 33-year-old single mother who struggles to negotiate flexible working hours to pick up her child from daycare on time.
She didn’t receive the well-deserved promotion as she’s less flexible with her time than the person who got the position.
The disappointment that her dedication and past performance were disregarded makes her lose her heart for the job. It leaves her feeling powerless and stuck, unable to make the career she wants and be the mom her child deserves.
To cope with the stress, she starts having a couple of glasses of wine in the evenings more and more often, contemplating life choices.
3. The third face of burnout is a 44-year-old doctor exhausted from working long hours, helping patients, listening to their problems, and trying to keep their spirits up.
The physical and mental weariness leaves no energy to feeling alive.
Emotionally engaged in the job and witnessing life dramas daily make him concerned about becoming hardened and unmoved by suffering.
He’s unsure whether to continue working as a physician as he doesn’t even recognize himself anymore. He becomes disillusioned with his work and unhealthy lifestyle.
But thinking about all the years and money invested in education, he hesitates, trying to convince himself that it’s just life and nothing can be done about it.
His wife moves to the other bedroom, fed up with constant mood swings, irritation, and lack of communication.
4. Lastly, there’s the 58-year-old director who’s spent her entire life enjoying a fast-paced and competitive work environment.
However, after surviving a life-threatening event, she realizes that this job isn’t how she wants to spend the rest of her life anymore.
Even though her priorities have changed, she’s afraid that no one will hire her at her age, let alone train for a new role. And the mere thought of retiring frightens her.
So she continues working, but getting out of bed is harder and harder with every passing day. She spends hours thinking about how she’s wasting her “last good years.” But leaving seems impossible.
These are just a few examples of why burnout happens, its symptoms and daily anguish experienced by many.
It can occur at any career stage, whether you’re 25 or 60.
Do you see yourself in the people described above?
Note: The people mentioned in this article agreed to be described for educational purposes as they would like to share awareness about burnout and its consequences.