Burnout and Heart Health

Burnout and Heart Health

By Kerry Cannity, PH.D. | March 1, 2021

Okay, so maybe you are a little burned out. Or maybe you just want to improve your stress management. Here are a few things to help.

People often say they are getting “burnt out” from their jobs, but what does burnout actually mean? And why is it bad? Burnout is defined as emotional, mental, and physical symptoms resulting from long-term (usually work-related) stress. Some factors that contribute to burnout include long working hours, dangerous or stressful working conditions, and poor social support at work.

Studies suggest that long working hours (or working lots of overtime) are associated with higher likelihood of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. Burnout also has been linked to high blood pressure. In fact, burnout predicts future risk of heart attack, just as age, smoking, and blood pressure do. Burnout also is related to fatigue, depression, anxiety, lower motivation, and feelings of failure or self-doubt.

Okay, so maybe you are a little burned out. Or maybe you just want to improve your stress management. Here are a few things to help. First, it is easy to stop regular healthy activities when you are stressed, so remember to keep eating well, drinking water, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep. Second, seek support from family, friends, and positive co-workers. You’re probably not the only one dealing with this stress, and social support can help; just be sure to avoid anyone who is going to heap on more complaints or add to your stress level. Third, look for opportunities to find joy and achievement at work, even if it is through small tasks. If you find that your burnout is not improving, consider getting outside assistance to help improve your relationship with work.

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About the Author
Kerry Cannity, PhD is a clinical psychologist with a doctorate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) at New York-Presbyterian Westchester Division. In addition to her clinical work, she serves on the faculty at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she teaches psychology to undergraduates, and as a research associate with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She has published articles in Health Psychology and the Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, and she is a member of the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and the Society of Behavioral Medicine. LEARN MORE

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