Everything you need to know about work burnout and how to take action

Maria Flores
June 23, 2022

Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • 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.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life. Burn-out, as described, is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon. It is not classified as a medical condition.

We must be talking about something really important when the World Health Organization is developing evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace. Regrettably, the fast-forwarding way of living today has taken us to companies and other work environments when you are constantly pressured to do more and more every day, and that’s not healthy or sustainable across the time.

Burnout is more common in recent times as a result of various factors: extremes of activity, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, unclear job expectations, lack of control and social support, and work-life imbalance. 

Is also true that the term "burnout" has become a bit of a buzzword, and is still a tough concept to fully assume now, especially because is difficult for many of us to see where’s the dividing line between normal stress and a larger problem? But and unaddressed job burnout can have significant consequences for your main health as lead to chronic fatigue, insomnia, irritability, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and a weak immune system. 

The 24/7 automated cycle is full of pressure, so must you need to find ways to refuel your inner tank.

First, try to take breaks during the workday. Ron Friedman, the author of the book, The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace., says that to perform at your best over the long term, you need regular “opportunities for restocking your mental energy,” says Friedman. Take a walk or go for a run. Have lunch away from your desk. “Stepping away from your computer gets you out of the weeds and prompts you to re-examine the big picture,” he advises.

Set efficient limits to work. That is, although it is understood that there may be some tasks that may require your attention outside of work hours; let this be an eventuality and not a constant. Limiting work time and allowing yourself time for recreation and social life is essential for mental health. If your performance requires a commitment to strenuous work hours for your performance to be valuable, that may not be the right work environment for you.

Burnout is hard to recognize, and it doesn’t go away on its own. Identifying and then addressing burnout requires some conscious thought and effort. You should be your first item on the priority list. Try a relaxing activity, get some exercise, go for a walk or maybe you just need to take a nap; whatever feels good for you and your body.

Sometimes burnout is a signal that should be considering changing of job or career, maybe the growth you are looking for your future is not attached to where you are now. We are convinced that success and goals accomplishment is not associated with an over-demanding or unrewarding workplace undermine your health, and eventually your life in the future. 

Keep an open mind and consider options. Life is full of changes it is in our hands to manage them in the best way possible, always putting ourselves as a priority.

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