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Perfectionists are more likely to develop burnout

With the worries accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the pressures of inflation and various other life stressors, many people worldwide are feeling at the end of their tether. For some, the cumulative effect of these prolonged periods of stress can result in burnout – a more severe state than normal tiredness, characterized by constant exhaustion, emotional numbness and confusion at home and in the workplace.

While some conventional tools used to diagnose this phenomenon usually focus on work-related stress, the impact of burnout is much more extensive, according to Gordon Parker, a psychiatrist at the University of New South Wales in Australia and founder of the Black Dog Institute, an organization conducting research into mood disorders and aiming to remove the social stigmas surrounding mental illness.

“Most people think that burnout is a work problem. Actually, we found that stress experienced at work or at home can set the wheels of burnout in motion,” Parker explained. “Our analyses indicated that burnout may also develop as a result of predisposing personality traits, especially perfectionism. People with perfectionistic traits are usually excellent workers, as they’re extremely reliable and conscientious. However, they’re also prone to burnout as they set unrealistic and unrelenting standards for their own performance, which are ultimately impossible to live up to.”

In his recently published book Burnout: A Guide to Identifying Burnout and Pathways to Recovery – written together with Gabriela Tavella and Kerrie Eyers – Parker identifies and explains sources and possible coping strategies to minimize the impact of stress. The book contains new evidence-based tools for readers to assess their psychological state and generate plans for recovery based on their personal situation. Each chapter helps readers recognize their own burnout patterns, while providing approaches to help them regain their passions and build their resilience against the myriad stressors from their daily lives.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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