Sandra Bullock: ‘I’m so burnt out’ – star unable to make ‘healthy decisions’ amid hiatus

Betty White jokes about Sandra Bullock in 2010

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The 57-year-old who is set to star in upcoming action thriller Bullet Train alongside Brad Pitt has admitted that although extremely grateful for her success, it hasn’t been without sacrifice, and continuing “full throttle” like she is, would have severe implications on her personal life and wellbeing. The Hollywood star’s hiatus has been coming for a while, as back in March, Bullock admitted her break will come as she wants to spend more time with her kids, insisting: “That’s where I’m gonna be for a while.”

Speaking more recently about her health, Bullock shared: “I don’t want to be beholden to anyone’s schedule other than my own.

“I’m so burnt out. I’m so tired, and I’m so not capable of making healthy, smart decisions and I know it.

“Work has always been steady for me, and I’ve been so lucky. I realised it possibly was becoming my crutch.

“It was like opening up a fridge all the time and looking for something that was never in the fridge.”

The star remarked that in regards to her success, she had to have a conversation with herself, reminding herself not to let her work validate her.

She continued: “I said to myself, ‘Stop looking for it here because it doesn’t exist here. You already have it; establish it, find it and be OK not having work to validate you’.”

Whilst Bullock will be missed from Hollywood when her inevitable hiatus begins, suffering from professional burnout can be extremely serious.

The term “burnout” was first coined in the 1970s and was used to describe the consequences of severe stress in various professions. It was particularly connected to those in “helping” professions such as doctors and nurses, who sacrifice themselves for others and end up feeling exhausted, listless, and unable to cope.

Nowadays, the term is not only used for these helping professions, it can affect anyone, from stressed-out career-driven people and celebrities to overworked employees and homemakers.

Exhaustion is a normal reaction to stress, which is not necessarily a sign of disease. However, researchers have defined that three main areas of symptoms are considered to be signs of burnout.

These include:

  1. Exhaustion: People affected feel drained and emotionally exhausted, unable to cope, tired and down, and don’t have enough energy.
  2. Alienation from (work-related) activities: People who have burnout find their jobs increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may start being cynical about their working conditions and their colleagues. At the same time, they may increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and start feeling numb about their work.
  3. Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work, at home or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their tasks, find it hard to concentrate, are listless and lack creativity.

These three distinct areas of symptoms can then cause physical side effects on the body such as pain and gastrointestinal (stomach or bowel) problems, aches and pains, chest pain, trouble sleeping and headaches. There is even a possibility that individuals can develop type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure as a result of burnout.

The symptoms of burnout resemble those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and can also include more severe symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, nightmares associated with work, chronic irritability, difficulty concentrating, avoidance of patients or work events, hypervigilance, and angry outbursts.

Certain symptoms are also considered to be similar to depression such as exhaustion, feeling down and reduced performance. Due to this, people with depression may be wrongly diagnosed leading to ineffective treatment.

In order to minimise the risk of misdiagnosis, The National Library of Medicine explains that the key difference between depression and burnout is the involvement of an individual’s profession. For instance, in burnout most of the problems are work-related. In depression, negative thoughts and feelings aren’t only about work, but about all areas of life.

However, what makes burnout particularly dangerous to an individual’s health is that over time, it can worsen. If individuals ignore symptoms it can cause further harm to both their physical and mental health with the possibility of them losing the ability and energy to effectively meet the demands of their job.

Due to the prevalence of burnout, the condition has been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon” with 46 percent of UK workers feeling “more prone to extreme levels of stress” in 2021 compared to pre-COVID-19 times.

For this reason, it is important to understand how to handle burnout and even the best ways to prevent it. Similarly to other mental health conditions, early recognition of burnout and related risks will help to prevent the condition from worsening.

Other recommended prevention and treatment tips include:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Include daily enjoyable “timeouts”, such as yoga, a hobby, or meditation
  • Realign goals and expectations for yourself
  • Attend talking therapy.

For confidential mental health support contact Samaritans on 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively, text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19.

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