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What is worry burnout and how does it influence us

We asked the psychologist's team Oratio to understand it better

What is worry burnout and how does it influence us We asked the psychologist's team Oratio to understand it better

Graphic Credits: @ikigai.media

Living with a constantly changing global pandemic also means creating new habits and adapting to the conditions that the state of emergency imposes quickly. If it takes 21 days to build a habit, we should already be at ease with masks, remote work and the daily bombardment of news about the virus, and yet it is not so. A recent New York Times article shed light on a reality that has plagued many people since the onset of the pandemic, the worry burnout, a combination of different types of stress, including the one at high levels given by the new methods of remote work and the constant fear and concern to contract the virus. We then contacted Oratio, a team of three psychologists active in Turin, who guided us with their analytical approach in breaking down the worry burnout into small parts and looking at it more closely, to be less afraid.  The evocative praphic designs by @ikigai.media visively guide their narration.

"By combining our studies with clinical and personal experience we have tried to divide the areas mainly invested by worry burnout from a psychological point of view into three categories: spaces, control and relationships. These three categories represent fundamental psychological needs, whose management is at the basis of individual mental balance and consequently relational, social and collective. They are also three pivotal points of psychological therapy which offers a personal and private space, filled by a relationship in which you can work on your own control skills."

Starting from the clinical definition of what burnout is, let’s explore how this new form affects areas of our life in different ways.

What is the burnout?

"The term burnout is classically linked to the psychology of work, literally means burning, exhausting, and manifests itself with an exhaustion on the emotional, physical and mental levels. This stress differs from that normally experienced at work, because it is perceived as superior to the individual’s adaptability. The pandemic has led some scholars to extend this concept to a context no longer purely work but also private life, which makes it even more difficult to manage the various areas that converge and suffer from it (family, friendship, love, leisure, etc.). Psychologically, the ongoing pandemic has put a strain on the individual and the community’s ability to maintain a functional balance."

How does it show in how we live the spaces?

"First of all it is necessary to define the concept of space as the body and health, the dwelling, the mental space, the interpersonal space, Virtual spaces such as classrooms and meetings and physical spaces such as gyms and theatres are affected by worry burnout in terms of both invasion and deprivation. The virus invades the air and infects the space of the body/ health, private life is invaded by work that enters forcefully into our homes with remote work, its timing and demands, while the subjective interpersonal spaces are regulated and imposed by restrictions causing deprivation to recreation and collective encounter while the virtual spaces replace the spaces of encounter and comparison necessary for the development not only of skills but also of identity aspects. In this scenario, the constant and alarming news that invade us daily via social media, television, newspapers go to affect the personal mental space already highly sensitized by the new modes, and can cause burnout."

How does it manifest itself in the control of everyday life?


"The worry burnout brings a feeling of loss of control caused by the emergency situation, the future of work and their freedom of choice. The pandemic put us in front of is a total loss of control, due to both the characteristics of the virus, which is invisible and has unpredictable modes of transmission and variation, both for emergency management, which mutates and adapts quickly, like the virus itself. In terms of mental health this has led people to experience a state of constant uncertainty and instability, looking for firm points to cling to in constant change. Is it a very human mechanism to try, after stressful or traumatic situations, an escape route or something to hold on to, like a hot summer in which the virus seems to have disappeared, and it is just as human to fall back into despair if these prospects are undermined, as at this moment, by the cold winter and new variants."

This alternation of trust and moments of total discouragement that we have experienced in recent years, exposes to fear, fatigue, depression and the continuous search for a sense and a perspective.


How does it manifest itself in relationships?


"In relationships worry burnout can result in feeling constantly under the judgment of others, having to give account to others of what is done in case of positivity or risk of such, but also establish a process of polarization that identifies a "we" and a "you" in the conduct implemented to manage the emergency. This social conflict between unverified epidemiological opinions, conspiracies, positions and fear of too much closeness leads to conflictual dynamics even within intimate and family contexts, leading to the removal or loss of certain relationships. In addition, when this emotional distance is extreme to protect someone (fragile relatives or to connect infections) or restricted to the maximum as in cases of quarantine in the family, Feelings of loneliness or mistrust are born both with regard to new relationships to be cultivated and in those already present in the relational scenario."


How to treat it?

"The therapy room is a physical and mental place of listening and individual support, protected by well-established ethical and professional boundaries. The therapeutic relationship is defined in clear roles and aims at the well-being of the patient, free from judgment and based on the alliance. Consequently, psychotherapy and psychological support are an excellent tool to face physical, emotional, psychological and practical difficulties due to worry burnout. There are situations in which it might be useful to find a time, a space, a relationship in search of strategies functional to the individual case, because each context, circumstance, situation and personality determine the uniqueness and subjectivity of the same."

Contact your reference Asl/CSM to arrange an interview is a good idea, or you can contact Oratio to start a path of psychological support, ask for advice or be oriented to suitable professional figures through Instagram or the contacts on their website.