When your job requires a person-centered approach, but you are also battling your own war within, it can be hard to open up to someone else about what you’re going through. You might be used to being the support system for others, and therefore it might be hard to accept that you need your own support system, too. You may feel as though there is no one that will understand what you’re specifically going through. Sometimes when there is someone, you might feel like you can’t fully express yourself about what’s troubling or worrying you. Sometimes it can feel as though you don’t want to burden a friend, a colleague or a family member with your own personal issues. When you finally do have the courage to open up to someone, you may also fear being judged or misunderstood.
While some of these symptoms can look like depressive symptoms, all of these feelings are also associated with burnout. Burnout has been gaining more awareness lately, particularly for mental healthcare workers or other front-line workers who are being heavily relied on during Covid-19. In this post, we are exploring how burnout extends outside the workplace and into people’s daily lives.
What is burnout?
In 2019, The World Health Organisation classified burn-out as an ‘Occupational Phenomenon’, (International classification of Diseases – ICD11) “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Feeling of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- Reduced professional efficacy”
Negative impacts of burnout
However, burnout does not only impact your career. It affects your health, relationships and general wellbeing. To a degree, it can also make you feel like a failure, like you are failing as a partner, a mother, a daughter, a friend or a colleague. Stressful lifestyle, work stress, personal and family issues could add to the presenting symptoms of burnout. As some of the burnout symptoms are similar to depression, it is imperative to know the distinction between the two. Seeking advise from someone you trust, or a professional who could assist in conducting proper diagnosis and suggest interventions may assist you navigate the challenges you are facing.
Burnout extends beyond the workplace
When we think of burnout, we often think of excessive stress and fatigue caused by working too hard. But the three dimensions of burnout previously described are not exclusive to workplace stress, but often affects work-life balance, blending work stress into other areas of life. It has been reported that the 5 stages of burnout are:
- The honeymoon phase – high energy and commitment
- Appearance of stress – anxiety, lack of focus and fatigue
- Chronic stage – anger, cynicism, anger and often substance-use
- Emotional and physical symptoms – emptiness, self- doubt and social isolation
- Habitual burnout – fatigue, sadness and depression
These may or may not occur in sequence, but eventually, unmanaged burnout will lead to devastating consequences. Giving up your job, relationship and social interactions are not the solution. Some helpful, simple steps such as self- care, meditation, exercise, self- compassion, setting boundaries and avoid spreading yourself too thin may assist to manage burnout. Seek help, it is out there.
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