Health & Science

Holidays Provide Little Relief From Occupational Burnout

The CDC now classes burnout as a serious health threat, with potential consequences ranging from back pain and ulcers to increased risk of workplace injury and heart disease

Nearly 9 million Texans are vacationing this week, according to AAA. That’s not counting those who are just taking time off at home. But for many, the holidays provide little relief from a difficult work environment and the risk of occupational burnout.

Holiday times can be stressful for all sorts of reasons – mounting credit card bills, memories of friends and relatives who are no longer here. “Anything that adds to stress, can then add to the stress that might make somebody say, ‘Wow, I can’t stand my job either,” says Dr. Arthur “Tim” Garson, director of the Health Policy Institute at the Texas Medical Center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider occupational burnout a serious health threat, and not just in terms of mental health. “It could be cardiovascular. It could be musculoskeletal pain. It could increase the chances of workplace injury and even more severe things like suicide, ulcers, impaired immune function, and the list goes on and on,” says Dr. Jonathan Stevens, chief of outpatient services at Houston’s Menninger Clinic.

Few professions are immune to burnout, particularly at year end. Accountants are racing to help companies add up their books. Customer service workers face a flood of angry phone calls. And Stevens says health professionals in Houston are still dealing with the stresses of overwork during Harvey in addition to heavy workloads today.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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