Sunday, April 10, 2011

Empty or Too Full?

There is a lot discussed in homeschooling circles concerning the differences between stress and burnout. The two words are often intermingled in conversation and every February it creeps into our homes, our co-ops, and our online discussion forums.

My son's college-level Enterprise book (by William B. Gartner/ Marlene G. Bellamy) recognizes the differences between burnout and stress as follows:

"Signs of burnout are typically more mental than physical. Other feelings that indicate burnout include powerlessness, isolations, despair, cynicism, and apathy. You feel overwhelmed, sad, and empty. All your problems seem too big to overcome, and you are not motivated to take action to change the situation. You begin to pull away from family and friends.

"Burnout is not the same as stress, although it may be seen as the result of too much stress. Where stress creates feelings of too much pressure and too many demands, burnout leads to feelings of emptiness, of not caring, of pulling away and tuning out."

It seems obvious to me that the differences are quite clear:
Stress is a sense of having too much; burnout is a feeling of utter emptiness.
Springtime seems to release us of this habitual burden of discerning whether we are merely stressed or have been bubbled into fullblown burnout. I found this chart very helpful and thought during this spring it'd might be helpful for some of us to brush-up on issues of feeling insufficient and clearing the weeds left in our path from this past winter:



Characterized by overengagement
Emotions are overreactive
Produces urgency and hyperactivity
Loss of energy
Leads to anxiety disorders
Primary damage is physical
May kill you prematurely


Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are blunted
Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is emotional

(Enterprise by William B. Gartner & Marlene G. Bellamy/ pg. 483)

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