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Going through BURN OUT? You are not alone!

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Author: Jeevitha Ramesh


There is an increase in the number of people showing signs of anxiety, depression, passivity, low confidence, loss of motivation, low self-confidence, and professional identity crisis. These issues are symptoms of burnout. The study in 2019 mentioned that nearly one-third of employees in India are experiencing burnout. India stood in the second position with the second-highest percentage of workers facing burnouts with 29% in Asia.


Burnout is increasingly becoming an issue of global concern. Survey shows that more people are going to suffer from burnout in the coming years. This can reflect in loss of productivity and development of regions.


In this blog, we will explore several aspects of burnout. Why does it happen? How can we cope with burnout?


Burnout is defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Three dimensions characterize it:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism associated with one's job; and

  • reduced professional efficacy.

Simply put, burnout is a state of exhaustion (physical, emotional, and mental) due to prolonged and excessive stress. It can occur when one feels emotionally drained, overwhelmed, or unable to meet the constantly coming demands.


Burnout can make people feel exhausted, empty, and unable to overcome the stressors of life. Various mental ( like anxiety, depression) and physical health symptoms ( like fatigue, restlessness) accompany burnout. If left unaddressed, burnout can make it difficult for one to function well. It makes one feel helpless, lowers confidence, motivation, and resentfulness, which can have adverse effects in every area of life- including family, work, and social life.


Stress that contributes to burnout can come from various sources like jobs, familial pressure, etc. But studies show that stress from one's lifestyle can be a significant add-on to causing feelings of burnout in people. In a workplace burnout survey in 2019, 89% of respondents mentioned facing an unmanageable amount of stress. Also, 71% of respondents agreed that unhealthy lifestyle habits are worsening their burnout symptoms.


Most people do experience days when they feel helpless, overloaded, or unappreciated. But, when such a feeling is experienced for a longer duration, that can be burnout. Burnout is slowly built, and it doesn’t happen overnight. The signs and symptoms are very minimal at first but become worse as time goes on. These signs include,

  • Physical symptoms like feeling tired most of the time, lowered immunity, frequent illnesses, headaches.

  • Emotional signs like a sense of failure and self-doubt, feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated, loss of motivation.

  • Reduced performance in everyday tasks, be it in work (going to work on time, attending and concentrating meetings) or at home (like low interest in household works). This may lead to difficulties in concentrating or even a lack of creativity.

Surveys have mentioned that today's employees, especially the white-collar ones, face many burnout-causing factors and the reasons include the following:

  • Unmanageable workload, unreasonable time pressure, and a blurring of definite lines between when people are on and off the clock.

  • Lack of communication and lack of support from a higher authority.

  • Poor self-care and unhealthy lifestyle (not focusing on sleep, exercise, nutritious food, etc.).

  • Family stress and psychological issues (like anxiety).

  • Loss of motivation, sense of failure, and self-doubt. All of these are leading to burnout.

Till now, we saw the causes and symptoms of burnout; now, we will look into the preventive measures to overcome burnout. Although the term "burnout" suggests it's going to be a permanent condition, the good news is that it's reversible!. Research has established that interventions that include participated activities, communication skills, yoga, meditation and self-care knowledge help in coping up with burnout

  • Bringing changes in work-life: Anyone who is feeling burnout may need to make some changes (like evaluating available options or seeking support) to their work environment. It can help them to regain energy, focus and give them a sense of well-being.

  • Reaching out to closed ones: Talking to a partner, family, or friends about how you are feeling can help, and sometimes opening up to them helps reflect on your thoughts. Interaction with them can also help in overcoming stress.

  • Focusing on self-care and lifestyle: Working on lifestyle and following self-care strategies, like eating a healthy diet, engaging in exercise, and getting restorative sleep, may help reduce the consequences of a high-stress job like burnout. Heartfulness Meditation is a great tool to address burnout as observed in research studies.

  • Taking time off: Going on vacations or taking breaks can recharge your energy to bounce back.

Burnout can completely change how one feels about life. But it’s not a hopeless situation. Once symptoms are recognized, you can overcome them by making changes in lifestyle and workplace habits. But, sometimes, due to its serious consequences, it’s important to address burnout more effectively.


The Brighter minds ReStart program is yet another lifestyle modification training based to address burnout and improve quality of life.


References

  • Maslach C, Leiter MP. Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World Psychiatry. 2016;15(2):103–111. doi:10.1002/wps.20311

  • Bianchi R, Schonfeld IS, Laurent E. Burnout-depression overlap: a review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2015;36:28-41. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.01.004

  • Gallup. Employee Burnout, Part 1: The 5 Main Causes.

  • Demerouti E. Strategies used by individuals to prevent burnout. Eur J Clin Invest. 2015;45(10):1106-12. doi:10.1111/eci.12494

  • https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.

  • Interventions on reducing burnout in physicians and nurses: A systematic review, Aidin Aryankhesal, Roghayeh Mohammadibakhsh and Zeynab Farhad. Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2019; 33: 77. Published online 2019 Jul 31. doi: 10.34171/mjiri.33.77

  • Microsoft's Work Trend Index

  • Effect of heartfulness meditation on burnout, emotional wellness, and telomere length in health care professionals. Jayaram Thimmapuram, Robert Pargament, and Erik Toorens. Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2017 Jan; 7(1): 21–27. 2017 Mar 31. doi: 10.1080/20009666.2016.1270806



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