Have you ever experienced occupational burnout? Do you even know what it is? As a relatively 'new' concept, occupational burnout can often be misinterpreted for anxiety or sometimes just laziness. But this isn't the case and knowing about it is important. By learning about burnout you can help prevent it from occurring to yourself and maybe even others.
What is burnout?
Occupational burnout is classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as 'a state of physical and emotional exhaustion' that typically occurs 'when you experience long-term stress in your job, or when you have worked in a physically or emotionally draining role for a long time'.
Over the course of the pandemic, workplace surveys have described an increase in employee burnout. This isn't surprising given the amount of stress the world has been under. Workers on the front line of the pandemic will have faced and continue to face a much more high-stress environment in the workplace. And for those who transitioned to working from home, while there are accounts of people who found it better, a large number of individuals found it added greatly to the pressure they were under and started to blur the lines between work and home. This situation is extremely unideal because having a good work/life balance is essential to avoiding burnout.
So now we know that a leading cause of burnout is stress. But did you know that there are two types of stress? And that only one of them contributes to burnout? Let's talk about that.
The two types of stress are typically known as 'Good Stress' and 'Bad Stress' but psychologists also refer to them as 'Eustress' and 'Distress'. The difference between the two is that good stress is short-term and something that we bring upon ourselves voluntarily whereas bad stress can be short-term or long-term but is always something we don't have much control over. Both will likely bring about feelings of nervousness or excitability and both will cause our bodies to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is our bodies built-in stress response and something should listen to.
Good stress should motivate us; push to achieve more goals and will eventually lead to success and happiness.
Exercise is an example of good stress. It increases endorphins in your body and promotes a healthy immune system.
Deadlines are also an example of good stress. Having a specific time to achieve your goal in can help motivate you to get the work done.
However, good stress can sometimes become bad stress.
Take deadlines for example. If your boss sets you a deadline that is impossible to meet, for whatever reason, this could cause bad stress. You are not in control of this deadline and have been given more than you can manage, which can cause feelings of anxiety or helplessness.
A lack of control over the stressor is what causes bad stress and so any situation where an individual has no say can be a problem. Whether this is a death in the family, being fired or a world-wide pandemic that changes their lives. These stressors can last a long time and the build-up of negative feelings and the pressure of the body's physiological response to stress will eventually lead to burnout if something doesn't change.
How to Avoid Burnout
As mentioned above, having a good work/life balance is one of the essential parts of avoiding burnout. We need time to relax and de-stress, particularly if we have had a hard day at work. So here's a few things you can do to help avoid burnout.
Be active - exercise is good stress. The release of endorphins can elevate your mood and help you to let go of any negative feelings.
Take control - we've already established that a lack of control is a leading factor of bad stress, so take it back or let it go. Tell your boss the deadline needs to change or that your workload is too much. If they're worth working for, they'll try to help.
Connect with people - now more than ever it is hard to connect and be social. But it is so important to try because you need a support network.
Take time for yourself - set aside a couple of nights a week to just chill. Read a book, take a bath or watch your favourite movie. Do something that is just for you.
Have a work/life balance - I cannot stress this enough (see what I did there?), but you need to leave work at work. If you're still working from home this can be a lot easier said than done but putting boundaries in place is important.
All of these tips are ways to decrease the bad stress in your life and subsequently, help you to beat burnout. For more information on effective stress management, take a look at Anytime Training. Their online stress management course will help you to identify the signs of stress and provide you with more ways to handle that stress, so that it doesn't become overwhelming.
Follow the link below to find out more.