Perfectionist trait raises risk of burnout, study shows

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Mental health expert and study lead author Professor Gordon Parker said burnout is widespread among high achievers in the workplace – but is becoming increasingly more prevalent in personal lives.

“Most people think burnout is a work problem,” he said. “Actually, we found that stress experienced at work or at home can set the wheels of burnout in motion.

“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…However, they’re also prone to burnout as they set unrealistic and unrelenting standards, which are ultimately impossible to live up to.”

He said those struggling with burnout don’t just suffer fatigue, but also “cognitive dysfunction, sometimes known as ‘brain fog’, and disconnection from their friends and family, as well as the more typically-recognised reduced performance in work and tasks around the home”.

And the pandemic set up many people for “a fall”.

Prof Parker, a clinical psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales in Australia, went on: “With the worries accompanying pandemic lockdowns, the pressures of inflation and other life stressors, many people are feeling at the end of their tether.”

Now he has released the first complete self-help guide to burnout, entitled Burnout: A Guide To Identifying Burnout And Pathways To Recovery.

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