Health & Wellness

"Burnout" Becomes an Official Medical Diagnosis

New designation validates what many already feel. What can we do about it?

We've all heard the phrase "I'm burned out." You've probably even said it about yourself when work stress gets to the breaking point.

Now the World Health Organization says burnout is an actual medical diagnosis . In their latest handbook that helps doctors diagnose disease, burnout appears in the section on problems related to a person's job .

Here are the symptoms -- sound familiar?

  1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  2. increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
  3. reduced professional efficacy (effectiveness)

So now that you know burnout is a medical condition what are you and your doctor supposed to do about it? CNN has a helpful piece on how deep breathing therapy can be helpful -- and it can be easily learned in a yoga class, with a therapist who does guided imagery, or even on your own with some on-line help. Click here for a tutorial from WebMD , click here for one from Harvard , and click here for another from the American Institute of Stress . Google "deep breathing" to find more suggestions, Google "yoga classes near me" to find a class where you can practice with others, or "guided imagery therapy" to find a trained practitioner.

Experts say doing a few minutes of deep breathing each day can help with burn out, and it's easy to do on your own.

In the CNN story , property manager Julianne Shelzi talks about how she took every tenant's problem personally and found it starting to consume her. She adopted deep breathing techniques and uses them all the time. "You could be standing in the line at the post office. Rather than flipping out this is an opportunity to relax. It's so handy," she told the CNN reporter.

"Just simply take a pause, a few deep breaths" Dr. Darhsan Mehta

Dr. Darhsan Mehta of the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine agrees. "When someone is anxious or stressed, their breathing rate gets faster," he told CNN. "Take some slow deep breaths. The rate of breathing actually goes down, we have a reduction in our blood pressure, a reduction in our heart rate." And, hopefully, a reduction in our burnout!

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