Bariatric Burnout: What Is It and How To Recover From It

The word “burnout” was originally found in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, who applied it to a phenomenon seen in health care professionals. Workers in this industry are still at high risk for burnout (especially in current times, along with others on the frontline dealing with the coronavirus pandemic), and those in education, law enforcement and other service professions. 

But work life is not the only area of your life in which you are experience burnout. We feel burnout in a variety of different aspects of our lives and we may not even realize that is what it is. We can get burned out with fitness, with nutrition, with school, and many other areas of our lives. But you may ask, what is bariatric burnout? Well you can also feel burnout with medical, whether it be from having weight loss surgery and then adjusting to a new normal life after that, it can be from a chronic condition you have had to take care of years on end with no breaks, basically when something becomes a new norm for you, this can make it so you become burned out on it.

What is bariatric burnout?

Bariatric burnout, in the terms that I use it for my clients and customers, is when one has been adjusted to the new norm, they switch to post bariatric surgery, that they become either 1)bored or 2)frustrated with whole thing. Ever get to a point of where you just want to say “F*$k it”? You just want to throw your hands up in the air and give up? This can be the start of bariatric burnout. Do you ever question why you do something the same way over and over again? This also can be the start of bariatric burnout.

So how does one recover from bariatric burnout?

Well this can be complicated depending on the exact situation at hand. The next bit is 7 steps that you can take, which have helped other clients and customers overcome their Bariatric Burnout. Remember, situations vary, so some of the ways may or may not work for you. It may take a longer time to recover for some. And sometimes it requires a more in-depth look. If ever, you need someone to help you with your burnout because you are confused, you know its there but you are lost at how to fix it, please contact myself or Derreck Peterson. We are both there to help you. You can go to our Contact page or visit BariatricA, LLC on Facebook.

7 steps for recovering from burnout

Once you’re suffering from burnout, recovery probably isn’t going to be easy and doesn’t happen automatically by taking a little time off. You will need a support system to get this going. Support from an online community like Bariatric FoodPorn and Recipes. Support from your family and loved ones. Just a good solid support system. These steps are ways you can help yourself as well.

1. Seek help.

Burnout is a serious phenomenon that has consequences for our physical health, as well as mental and emotional. Even today, there are those who don’t regard it as a real issue, and some find it difficult to admit to suffering from burnout. It’s necessary to break this stigma. 

If you know you’re burned out, acknowledge the problem and reach out. Therapy may be a good idea, if it’s possible, and you should seek support of occupational health specialists at work, if they’re available. If burnout has caused physical symptoms, or if you feel you may be experiencing depression, it’s advisable to see a doctor.

Reach out to your surgeon to see if they have any resources for bariatric burnout. Reach out to your nutritionist/dietitian to see if they have anything. Even your primary care physician can help point you in the right direction to getting you help.

You should also look at the nature of the tasks you’re performing. Are you overstretched by your responsibilities, or are you under-challenged or bored by monotonous tasks?

2. Foster creativity.

Creative activities are said to counteract the feelings of emptiness and having nothing left to give, which are characteristic of burnout. They also help the brain recover and return to full functioning (burnout has been found to reduce mental abilities), and have been shown to help in relaxation and reduction of stress. 

You might focus on artistic hobbies that you’ve enjoyed in the past, or you could start to learn new skills by taking classes or joining a club. Just undertaking small craft projects or writing at home each day could be enough to start to get the imagination working and ideas flowing again. 

Make sure these activities aren’t in any way related to your current situation. The idea is to take your mind away from the types of stress and demands that have brought you to the point of burnout, and to stimulate positivity and cognitive skills, giving them time and space to come back. Find things you can do just for fun, things that open up your mind and allow a sense of playfulness and exploration, but which require focus. 

3. Rest.

Making sure that you are getting the recommend 8 hours of sleep a night, is the best way to make sure that you are giving your brain enough time to relax. If you are having troubles with sleeping, and have tried ways to help bring on sleep then you should seek professional help with your insomnia.

4. Engage in social interaction.

One of the effects of burnout is to make us want to shut off from others. This self-isolation can extend beyond our situation to other aspects of our personal lives as well. A key to recovering from burnout is to fight against this tendency, as a support system of friends, family, colleagues and advisors is going to be necessary. 

While it’s important to talk to people about the burnout you’re experiencing, make sure you’re also spending time with people in ways that take your mind off what’s going on and the problems you’re experiencing. Get back in touch with friends and family and do the kinds of things you enjoyed before it became all-consuming. Joining groups and making new friends can also help rejuvenate your social skills and willingness to interact with people. 

Make sure who you are interacting with has a positive influence on you and doesn’t bring negativity around you. Negativity is no productive and does not help the situation at all. Having a positive, helpful interactions with people who care and are helpful is one of the best ways to bounce back from burnout.

5. Pay attention to your physical health.

As with social interaction, taking care of our health is something we often lose interest in when experiencing burnout. Since burnout is characterized by fatigue, and can result in other negative health effects such as raised blood pressure, insomnia and an impaired immune system, repairing your physical health is an essential part of recovering from burnout. 

Don’t be reluctant to see a doctor. You’re not “just” tired or “just” stressed if you’re experiencing burnout. According to Gallup, those with burnout are 23% more likely to make an emergency room visit.

Fortunately, many of the other steps recommended here will also help your physical health: rest, engage in creative activities, and maintain social contact with supportive people. Exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep and limiting or eliminating unhealthy behaviors should also be part of your plan.

6. Find purpose and meaning.

One of the main signs of burnout is loss of any sense of purpose in your work. Nothing seems worthwhile. Feeling that our work is meaningful is important for all of us, and so you should actively engage in finding ways to regain that sense in your own life and career. Take time to reflect on what’s important to you. Assess how well your current or most recent job aligns with your values. 

Doing work that helps others is empowering and fulfilling, but in today’s economy many of us are not in situations where we are detached from those we ultimately serve, and some things can feel less than worthwhile. Doing activities outside of where your burnout is happening can give a real sense of being valuable and making a contribution to society, can help recovery from burnout by reminding us of our ability to make a difference, and by showing us that there’s more to life. Consider volunteering in an area that’s important to you. And remember to recognize any work you already do to care for or support others. 

7. Set boundaries.

The amount of control we have over our lives the better we will be able to set boundaries. Yes some aspects of bariatric life are there and they can not be ignored as they too can cause physical issues, so just remember that you don’t want to cause anymore issues other than that which may be going on.

Being a perfectionist is also a risk factor of burnout. If this applies to you, ensure that you’re being realistic about what you can do. Setting boundaries requires an awareness of when you’ve done enough. If you’re used to judging “enough” by when you’ve done all you can, you’ll need to adjust that outlook to recover from burnout and avoid slipping back into it again. 

Pushing yourself to your absolute limit may make you feel great when it happens on rare occasions. But trying to do it all the time is a sure-fire way to hit burnout. Recognizing and breaking these patterns of overachievement on your part, or over-reliance by others, is a necessary step in your recovery from burnout so that you don’t end up repeating the cycle.

If you suspect you may be on the path to burnout, or in a situation that makes you susceptible to it, take action now to avoid the problem escalating. If you’re already experiencing burnout, the most important thing you must do is to reach out and seek help. It may take time, but recovering from burnout is possible if you take appropriate steps to address it.

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