Lulu Lockjaw

Friday, June 12, 2009

Avoiding Burnout

Oh man, I am such a bad blogger, and now that my blog is on the SCDG website, I really am pressured to keep up with this thing. The truth is that I am really busy. I know, I know, what derby girls isn’t and how many times have I posted that in my blog. Unfortunately, it’s only June and I am already throwing around the B word, BURNOUT. So to all my fellow derby sisters, here is an interesting article posted on some yahoo forum that I picked up. There are a few girls on my league that I considered emailing this directly to them, but I figured everyone could use the information, including myself.

"Avoiding Burnout"
If constant stress has you feeling disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, you may be suffering from burnout. When you're burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it's difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something about your situation.
The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. But burnout can be healed. If you recognize the signs and symptoms of burnout in its early stages, simple stress management strategies may be enough to solve the problem. In the later stages of burnout, recovery may take more time and effort, but you can still regain your balance by reassessing your priorities, making time for yourself, and seeking support.

What is Burnout?
Burnout occurs where people who have previously been highly committed to a sport lose interest and motivation.
Typically it will occur in hard working, hard training, hard driven people, who become emotionally, psychologically or physically exhausted. This can occur where:
you find it difficult to say 'no' to additional commitments or responsibilities
someone has been under intense and sustained pressure for some time
a perfectionist coach does not delegate
someone is trying to achieve too much
someone has been giving too much emotional support for too long
Often it will express itself in a reduction in motivation, volume and quality of performance, or in dissatisfaction with or departure from the sport altogether.
Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout will normally occur slowly, over a long period of time. It may express itself physically or mentally. Symptoms of burnout are shown below:
Physical Burnout
Feelings of intense fatigue
Vulnerability to viral infection
Immune breakdown
Mental Burnout
Feeling of lack of control over commitments
An incorrect belief that you are accomplishing less
A growing tendency to think negatively
Loss of a sense of purpose and energy
Increasing detachment from relationships that causes conflict and stress, adding to burn-out
Avoiding Burnout
If you are training and performing hard, then you should take great care not to burnout.
You can avoid physical burnout by keeping the sport fun: intense, difficult training sessions that significantly improve technique should be mixed with lighter, enjoyable sessions that use new skills to good advantage. A relatively slow build-up from off-seasons can be adopted so that your body is not put under excessive stress. You should respect feelings of intense physical fatigue and rest appropriately.
Similarly, you can avoid mental burnout by ensuring that the sport remains fun: there is a limit to your mental energy that you should respect. As you get better at a sport, people will want more and more of your time, and will rely on you more and more. It is easy for commitments to get bigger and bigger: people tend to be quite happy to consume other peoples mental resources without worrying about the consequences. You must learn to say 'No' to commitments that you do not want to take on - otherwise you will be in severe danger of burning out as you become unhappy with your situation. Involvement in sport must be fun, otherwise there is no point in doing it.
If you are in Danger of Burning Out...
If you feel that you are in danger of burning out, or are not enjoying your sport, the following points can help you correct the situation:
Re-evaluate your goals and prioritize them
Evaluate the demands placed on you and see how they fit in with your goals
Identify your ability to comfortably meet these demands.
If you are over-involved, reduce the commitments that are excessive
If people demand too much emotional energy, become more unapproachable and less sympathetic. Involve other people in a supportive role. You owe it to yourself to avoid being bled dry emotionally.
Learn stress management skills
Examine other areas in your life which are generating stress, such as work or family, and try to solve problems and reduce the stress
Get the support of your friends and family in reducing stress
Ensure that you are following a healthy lifestyle:
Get adequate sleep and rest to maintain your energy levels
Ensure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet - a bad diet can make you ill or feel bad.
Get adequate regular aerobic exercise
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
Perhaps develop alternative activities such as a relaxing hobby to take your mind off problems
Acknowledge your own humanity: remember that you have a right to pleasure and a right to relaxation
Late Stages of Burn-Out
If you are in late stages of burn-out, feeling deeply demotivated and disenchanted with your sport, get help from a good psychologist.
If You Have Burned Out...
Do not worry. If you are so demotivated in your sport that for a time you do not want to continue it, then drop it for a while. If you come back later, you may find that you start to enjoy it again, and can take on only those commitments you want to.
You may, however, find that you have absolutely no interest in continuing with the sport. In this case it is best to drop it altogether. If you are the sort of person who has burned out, i.e. highly motivated and hard driving, then a complete change of direction may be appropriate - it is very likely that you will find another area in which you will excel. You will find that you are only demotivated and listless in the area in which you burned out.
The difference is that you will have already burned out once: next time you now know the signs to look for and the things to watch. You will be able to pace yourself, and control your energy much more effectively, ensuring that you operate at stress levels where you can give your optimum performance.

The difference between stress and burnout
Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn't the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they'll feel better.
Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don't see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. One other difference between stress and burnout: While you're usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don't always notice burnout when it happens.

Closing Tips on dealing with Burnout: The "Three R" Approach
Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout
Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support
Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health

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