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The relationship to stress and anxiety is crucial, for it distinguishes burnout from simple exhaustion. Run a marathon, paint your living room, catalogue your collection of tea caddies, and the tiredness you experience will be infused with a deep satisfaction and faintly haloed in smugness – feelings that confirm you’ve discharged your duty to the world for at least the remainder of the day."Getting away from it all" for a week or two doesn't help because in the interconnected world you can't get away:
The exhaustion experienced in burnout combines an intense yearning for this state of completion with the tormenting sense that it cannot be attained, that there is always some demand or anxiety or distraction which can’t be silenced....
A walk in the country or a week on the beach should, theoretically, provide a similar sense of relief. But such attempts at recuperation are too often foiled by the nagging sense of being, as one patient put it, “stalked” by the job. A tormenting dilemma arises: keep your phone in your pocket and be flooded by work-related emails and texts; or switch it off and be beset by unshakeable anxiety over missing vital business.Having experienced burnout at times, I'm sympathetic--but not overly so--toward fellow sufferers. The millions who are unemployed find it hard to get out of bed, too, but they often lack money, self-worth, and social acceptance that comes from employment. They would love to feel the pressure of a demanding job (okay, maybe for just a little while).
Or the burned out could try charity work. Meeting people who are in dire circumstances helps one to appreciate one's own life. Gratitude can chase despair.