IN THE MIDDLE | career advancement

Breaking Through the Burnout

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published July 12, 2021

Does everything in you want to quit your job?

If yes, a well-deserved vacation, a nice cup of tea, and a good massage sound appealing, and it just might do the trick. If not, you may be experiencing more than just job dissatisfaction and fatigue, but a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion known as burnout.

The Continuing Dilemma

Burnout is caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

In May 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), and this included an updated and more detailed entry on burnout. Previously defined as a “state of vital exhaustion,” the WHO has now classified it as a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” characterized by:

● A sense of exhaustion or depletion
● Mental distance from or negativity or cynicism about work
● Decreased effectiveness at work

This 'occupational phenomenon' usually creeps in subtly but becomes worse as time goes by. It reduces your productivity and keeps you demotivated until you're worn out and drained, leaving you feeling more helpless, hopeless, cynical, and empty.

Burnout can affect almost every area of your life—including your home, profession, and social circles. It can also make you feel unwell and leave you physically and mentally vulnerable to illnesses. Due to its many negative effects on the overall well-being of an individual, it's crucial to make yourself aware of whether you're just tired or already burnt out to be able to deal with it the right way, right away.

What Causes Burnout?

Burnout is often triggered by chronic stressors on the job, including:

● long working hours
● an extremely heavy workload
● job scope creep or the changes in job duties and responsibilities without any corresponding pay raise or promotion
● an inability to influence decisions that affect your job
● tasks that contradict your sense of self
● a toxic environment or a workplace that lacks empathy
● overly demanding or unclear job expectations
● working on a project that lacks resonance

Though these are the more common causes of burnout that can be experienced at work, one other thing that can put someone at risk of developing this syndrome is the lack of a balanced self-care routine because no matter what work environment you're exposed to, you have to understand that stress is an unavoidable reality of life.

Have You Reached the Point of Burnout?

While burnout isn’t a diagnosable psychological disorder, many warning signs can indicate the difference between exhaustion and the syndrome itself, but the three main areas of symptoms are:

Exhaustion: Professionals experiencing burnout may feel an increased energy depletion. They start to feel drained and unable to cope, thinking and feeling like they don't have enough energy to do most things, whether it's work-related or it's for their personal care and needs.
Cynicism: When you are experiencing burnout, you may feel detached from your life and your ability to control it, making you reluctant to do anything work-related and withdrawn from or easily irritated by family, friends, and co-workers.
Reduced Professional Inefficacy: With the two factors above, a professional's productivity, efficiency, and focus may suffer, leading to engagement erosion. If you feel these things often, you may want to step back a little and take a well-deserved breather.

How Do You Handle Burnout?

As you can see, burnout can affect almost every aspect of your life and the way you do things, that is, if you even have the energy to do anything. So, how should you prevent burnout? How do you deal with this syndrome?

Perhaps the simplest way to prevent burnout is to recharge. Make time for your needs, the things you value most, and the things you've been longing to try. Don't let your work define who you are. Instead, allow yourself to figure out who you are beyond your job title.

And even though you may have no energy for extreme activities, try to make time for regular exercises as it can boost your mood, improve your sleep, and help you deal with stress. Add a well-balanced diet to that and you have yourself a good self-care routine to back up and maintain your mood and energy levels throughout the day.

For those already experiencing burnout, take the time to look back and identify the cause of it, and think about what you can do to resolve it. Establishing good self-care will also help, but the best way to really jumpstart your recovery is to take a well-deserved vacation. While you're at it, try to reassess your goals and priorities; hopefully, this time, you can make your well-being a priority.

You may also want to reduce your stress by setting boundaries and learning how and when to say "no." And lastly, again, let yourself be yourself. Don't lose yourself in your profession and veer away from achieving perfection. Keep in mind that it's okay to need a break, and it's never too late to book one now.