Burnout is now said to be at “appallingly high levels”, affecting more than a third of working adults on a regular basis and 77% at least occasionally, including people from a variety of employment groups. age, experience levels and sectors.
According to the 2021 article published in Time Magazine, recent surveys and reports suggest that women are even more likely to suffer from burnout than men. In 2021, 42% of women and 35% of men reported symptoms such as feelings of overwhelm and fatigue, mostly relating to work-life balance, while 67% also state that the exhaustion has worsened due to or during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In many ways, you can treat burnout the same way as adrenal fatigue, which usually involves getting more rest, working less, and eating and exercising in a balanced and nourishing way. Addressing issues related to your work, such as your workload and the need to be available almost 24/7, are other crucial steps in protecting your mental health.
What is professional burnout?
Since it is not considered a true medical diagnosis, what does the term “burnout” mean? There are several definitions, but most include aspects of prolonged stress, fatigue, or exhaustion, as well as decreased motivation and productivity, especially in relation to work. It is said to be a state of emotional and physical exhaustion caused by long periods of constant and relentless stress.
The most common type of exhaustion, and the one that has been studied the most, is “professional burnout”. Professional burnout as “a particular type of work-related stress, a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a reduced sense of accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
The term “burnout” was first introduced in the 1970s by an author named Herbert Freudenberger, who wrote “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement.” He said the exhausted workers “looked, acted and seemed depressed”.
Since that time, researchers have studied what most often leads to burnout. Several main components of burnout have been identified including:
– Unreasonable time pressure/not enough time to complete all the work.
– Lack of communication and support from managers
– Lack of clarity of roles/employees not knowing what is expected of them
– Unfair treatment/unfair pay
– Apart from burnout, people can also experience burnout and lack of motivation if they feel exhausted from dating, from following social media, from taking care of their children /families or by a combination of all of these.
Signs and symptoms
Burnout basically boils down to a combination of stress and exhaustion. This is obviously not very healthy or long-lasting, and it can manifest in different ways in different people.
What is an example of burnout?
A burnout person can be a middle-aged adult who has young children at home, has a relatively long commute to work, then works long hours at their job, then comes home. at home in a noisy house that demands his attention. He may not like his job very much, may not be clear about his responsibilities, and may not have much free time outside of work.
He may also have trouble sleeping at night and miss opportunities to relax, exercise, or spend time with friends.
Millennials also seem susceptible to burnout due to factors such as the rising cost of living, difficulty finding reliable employment, debt, and social media pressure that add to daily anxiety. .
Common signs of burnout can include:
– Always feeling tired, which can lead to low motivation to work, exercise, socialize, etc.
– being more irritable, impatient, cynical and critical than usual
– Feeling like you can’t concentrate or be productive
– not feeling excited or satisfied by the things that usually make you happy
– Feeling anxious, as if you have no control over important aspects of your life (such as your job or your schedule).
– Difficulty getting restful sleep
– You resort to food, drugs or alcohol to cope and improve your mood.
– You suffer from stress-related symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches or muscle tension.
– In some cases, developing more serious health problems related to chronic stress if left untreated, such as insomnia, alcohol or drug abuse, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and poor immune function.
Certain risk factors and personality traits appear to increase the risk of burnout, including the following:
– A history of depression and/or anxiety
– Lack of sleep
– a difficult job that does not allow a balance between professional and private life
– Feeling overwhelmed at work, for example due to a demanding schedule, a boss or colleagues who confront you, or unrealistic expectations about your workload.
– personality traits like perfectionism and pessimism
– Lack of social support and feeling of isolation
– lack of childcare (which is usually the most stressful for mothers)
– Lack of time or energy to spend time with family and friends or to indulge in hobbies and relaxation.
– Being sedentary/lack of exercise
– Commuting and working long hours
– Work involving caring for others, for example as a doctor or healthcare worker, police officer, first responder, etc.
– A difficult family life that increases stress
– Dealing with illnesses
– Financial worries that aggravate stress at work
How to prevent and treat
Does burnout eventually disappear?
It will likely only go away if you address the causes and change your lifestyle and responsibilities. If you keep doing the same job you don’t like, if you don’t talk about your needs and limitations, and if you don’t ask for help and support, you are unlikely to feel better. in your situation.
How to deal with professional burnout?
Here are some tips to prevent and treat the symptoms of burnout:
1. Address your concerns at work
Experts recommend people who are feeling burnt out focus on making positive changes to their work schedules and environments first. Here are some steps to consider to make your job more manageable and enjoyable:
– Make a list of exactly what bothers you, then consider raising those topics with your boss or supervisor in a respectful manner. You can choose to focus on your schedule, requirements, work environment, days off, travel, etc.
– Clarify roles and responsibilities that you have not clearly defined. This will make you feel more sure of yourself. Also discuss when you are expected to respond to work-related tasks and when you can unplug.
– Discuss compensation if you haven’t done so for a while, for example more than a year or two. Earning more money can help ease some of your worries if it allows you to achieve a better balance, such as hiring help with some household responsibilities.
– Think about the possibility of gaining flexibility by working from home or by adapting your hours. Research shows that this can be crucial for some parents who remain in the workforce, especially women. However, some people also struggle to balance their lives when working from home, so consider which setup works best for you.
2. Prioritize sleep and relaxation
– It can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re stressed or working long hours, but lack of sleep only makes your mood and productivity worse. Try to prioritize sleep by going to bed around the same time each night, aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep to feel your best.
– As part of a nighttime routine to calm you down and help you relax in general, incorporate stress-relieving activities into your day, such as meditation, exercise, reading, journaling, yoga and outdoor activities.
– Exercising regularly is both a way to combat stress and improve your sleep, as it naturally improves your mood and makes you more tired at bedtime. Try taking a walk during a break from work, getting some fresh air and enjoying the sunlight, or even taking your lunch break to hit the gym.
– The practice of mindfulness and meditation are other suggestions for people under stress. By quieting your mind, paying attention to the present moment, and feeling your body, you can learn to approach things from a healthier perspective.
3. Seek support from family, friends and co-workers
Feeling isolated and alone is one of the most stressful feelings people face. Make an effort to reach out to your friends, colleagues, mentors and family for advice, help and support.
If you feel like you’re depressed or have a higher than normal level of anxiety, it’s best to seek help from a therapist or counselor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be very helpful in dealing with negativity, low self-esteem, symptoms of anxiety, and other mental health issues related to burnout.
4. Unplug, do “digital detoxes” and stop comparing
Employees who don’t get regular breaks from work are more likely to experience resentment and stress. Try to stick to a schedule at work so you know when you’ll have free time and so others know what they expect of you.
When you’re not required to work, stay offline, disconnect, and distract yourself with other fun and relaxing things. Avoid responding to emails when you are at home or on vacation, as this is the time to take a break and restore your energy.
Make the effort to get outside to enjoy the sunlight and fresh air, whether you’re at home or at work.
Another thing that can add to your stress is constantly being on social media and comparing yourself to other people, such as those who work less and/or earn more money than you. Try to stop comparing yourself, and focus on improving your own career or work-life balance where possible.