The World Health Organisation has this year recognised Burnout as a medical condition.
WHO defines Burnout as
a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed
with three attributes
- feelings 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
I’ve also heard it described as a syndrome characterised by disengagement, helplessness, detachment, emotional exhaustion and loss of sense of achievement.
Am I in burnout?
If you aren’t sure, here are some questions to ask:
- Is work just a relentless TO-DO list you will never finish?
- Do you feel under-appreciated at work?
- Are you bitter, angry or resentful about work?
- Do you lack supportive relationships with colleagues?
- Does your temper flare up quicker than it used to?
- Do you dread getting up each morning to go to work?
- Are you exhausted, but sleep is un-refreshing?
- Are you feeling bad about not spending enough time with your friends and family?
- Have you forgotten about fun?
- Do you feel strangely disconnected from work?
- Do you make more mistakes than you used to?
- Do you lack a sense of meaningful contribution?
Even if you only answer yes to 1 or 2 questions, that’s a warning. Up to 6 would be a strong signal to make changes. More than that, call me right now!
What are the effects of burnout?
There has been a flurry of media in the last week about Burnout, including from the RACGP, which relates it to the burnout experiences of GPs. They observe that
…research has shown the effects of burnout can include cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal pain, depressive treatment and job dissatisfaction.
In my opinion, it has much vaster and deeper effects than that. When a human suffers prolonged stress, as they do in burnout, their entire eco-system is affected – body, mind and spirit – in countless ways that compound over time. Adrenaline and Cortisol have an ongoing party, with predictably messy results. The organism loses integrity and homeostatis. Deterioration and disease follow.
What can I do if I’m burnt out?
If you’re reading this, you may already recognise in yourself or in others the effects of burnout on physical and mental health.
The first thing I would say is you don’t immediately need to change your job. You can vastly improve your experience by managing your stress and low morale yourself.
I can help you, if you wish. Find out how.
Burnout is not a life sentence. It’s just a prison you’ve become accustomed to.
In my experience, and my clients’ experiences, burnout is eminently curable.