The Burnout Crisis

by Mary Beth Janssen
burnout

Have circumstances extinguished your inner flame? Disconnected you from that beautiful radiant being of light that you are? Have you lost your way? Are you experiencing burnout?

More than 60 percent of work absenteeism is attributed to psychological stress and stress-related burnout. And, according to a 2018 survey of 2,000 employees, 40 percent said they were considering quitting for that reason. A recent Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23 percent reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes. Experts estimate that burnout translates into an annual loss of anywhere from $150 to $350 billion for U.S. businesses.

Recently, work-related burnout was officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) through a revision of the International Classification of Diseases—a handbook for doctors and health insurers. According to WHO, burnout isn’t only synonymous with being stressed out. It’s “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” According to the health guidelines, burnout is categorized by the following symptoms: “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.”

Burnout is typically relegated to the workplace, however personal circumstances can make one more vulnerable to burnout. Lack of self-care, as well as overextending ourselves in any arena of our life can eventually feel like a drain if we’re not careful.

Now that burnout has officially been designated as a chronic workplace crisis, companies are paying attention. But it’s important that both employees and employers alike know the signs and can speak out as needed. This ultimately requires a deep-rooted wellness culture in the workplace, and a self-care and wellness orientation in one’s personal life. Companies are indeed stepping up and providing on-site wellness programs, counseling and more to set individuals back on the path to rejuvenation and renewal.

Now that burnout has officially been designated as a chronic workplace crisis, companies are paying attention. But it’s important that both employees and employers alike know the signs and can speak out as needed.

Paying attention to the culture of the work environment and the people with whom we work most closely can have a positive impact on well-being. Creating a sense of community where team members listen, empathize with and encourage one another; watch for signs of burnout; and support each other creates a thriving environment. Michelle Trotter-Mathison and Thomas M Skovholt, authors of The Resilient Practitioner: Burnout Prevention and Self-Care Strategies for Counselors, Therapists, Teachers, and Health Professionals refer to this as creating a “greenhouse,” a setting in which everyone can thrive at work. A trend in the teaching sector is the creation of wellness lounges, where staff can go to decompress. My doctor’s office has a “laughter” room—where team members can go for a bit of levity.

Remember, burnout can’t be resolved by simply slowing down, working fewer hours or taking an extended vacation. Burnout is a totally different state of being that requires different interventions on personal, occupational and organizational levels. In order to manage stress and short-circuit it from becoming its ultimate expression—burnout—you must devote time to healing centered engagement in the five pillars of wellness: meditation/mindfulness, sleep, physical activity, emotional regulation and nutrition.

Also consider visualization technique, positive affirmations, progressive muscle relaxation, journaling, practice healing breathwork to activate the parasympathetic nervous system’s relax/digest/renew functioning, utilize sensory modulation techniques like massage therapy, aromatherapy and sound healing, commune with nature every day for its calming and cleansing qualities.

And listen to the wisdom of Leo Tolstoy: “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you. Look around you.”

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