According to the World Health Organization, burnout has now been classified as an official medical condition.
The term ‘burnout’ has long been used to express everything from fatigue to just plain overworking yourself. However, the WHO defines burnout by these three markers:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job.
- Reduced professional efficacy.
One thing to note is that the WHO makes clear that burnout relates to occupational stress and work environments, not other areas of life. So this begs the question: How can we avoid burnout at work?
“Today’s employees are experiencing stress and anxiety in the workplace like no other generation before. Many will debate whether this is caused by the ‘always-on’ culture which sees technology keeping employees connected to the workplace at all times. Whether social media and the negative impact this has on individuals’ mental health is seeping into the workplace experience. Or whether employees simply are working too hard and for too long.”
Whatever the cause, it’s important that employees have the tools to look after their mental health whilst at work:
1. Find the balance: find what work-life balance works best for you. Keep your to-do list in control, prioritize and leave work at work.
2. Sleep: prioritize sleep as a way to clear the mind so you have space to tackle what the next day has in store.
3. Relax: find ways to switch off and be present in all that you do. Nurturing time with family and friends, yoga, meditation, mindfulness techniques and creative hobbies will help you wind down.
4. Exercise: this doesn’t mean an hour in the gym. Even a brisk 10-minute walk at lunchtime can be enough to see health benefits in and out of the workplace.
“Ultimately, if employees feel they are getting close to burnout then they need to ask themselves if they’re in the right job,” says Cresswell. “We’re currently in a candidates’ market and businesses are having to work very hard to attract the best talent. For employees, this means they have more bargaining power and can prioritize their own wellbeing and work-life balance when deciding where to work.”