The defining point of burnout exhaustion occurs when people can’t recover. John feels tired in the morning when he gets out of bed to get ready for work. He either can’t get a good night’s sleep or his sleep doesn’t do him any good. So, day after day, John drags himself out of bed, shuffles to work, and goes through his work day using as little energy as possible. He’s not contributing very much and he’s not getting much satisfaction from the little that he contributes.
Chronic exhaustion feels awful. First there is being physically tired. Second, along with fatigue come feelings of depression. Third, after feeling tired and depressed for a time, people will begin feeling ill. Symptoms include the physical experience of stress, such as headaches, upset stomach, and back aches. People are more likely to injure themselves at work because they feel so tired and become less agile. Everything at work seems more difficult. The joy is gone.
When people feel exhausted, they just want to get away from the demands of work. When people feel unhappy, uncomfortable, depressed, and ill, and they cannot find any way to improve their situation, the only reasonable thing to do is to escape. Maria know that getting away from a bad job would be simple, if only she were confident that she could immediately obtain a better job. Or at least a job that paid as well. But Maria knew that this was not her situation. Finding another job would require a lot of luck and a lot of work. She would have to discover employment possibilities, complete applications, prepare for interviews, and present herself as capable, energetic, and charming. But she didn’t feel any of these things. The effort required for finding a better job was too much for her to contemplate while feeling exhausted, depressed, and discouraged.