Many of us tend to take a reactive approach to our wellbeing. Often, we get so caught up in our work that we simply forget to recognise signs of burnout on the way. Burnout, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is defined as 'a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.' It is an occupational or work-related phenomenon, which, according to the WHO, should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life. There are three dimensions associated with burnout, namely:
- 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.
Among the work conditions associated with burnout are ‘presenteeism’ and ‘leaveism’, which many employees are also experiencing on a daily basis. According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), presenteeism, which is defined as a work condition where employees feel the need to work even when unwell, and leaveism, a situation where employees use their holiday allowance to work, are becoming more widespread. If you are experiencing these work conditions, you could be facing increased work-related stress, as well as low engagement in your work, and other mental health problems.
So, how can you spot the tipping point of burnout? Look out for the signs of presenteeism and leaveism first.
- Increased level of mistakes
- Decreased quality of work and low productivity
- Poor time management
- Excessively long hours; some people might sit at their desk for hours but struggle to get anything done.
- Working while being sick
- Displaying signs of tiredness and exhaustion
- Aggressive behaviour, tearfulness and low mood
- Always on, you don’t disconnect from work
- Not taking time off, and often rolling over vacation days when possible
- Lack of trust of co-workers; avoiding delegating or handing over projects
- Working on complete projects on evenings or weekends/days off to meet deadlines
Overcoming Conditions Leading to Burnout
One of the ways you can overcome these challenges is by implementing effective wellbeing strategies into your routine:
- Practise self-awareness. When was the last time you checked-in with yourself? How are you feeling at this moment? Relaxed? Anxious? Tired? Joyful? Understand the root cause/s of your own emotions. How are they impacting your wellbeing?
- Make wellbeing a key part of your life. Reflect on your routines and habits. How are your sleeping habits? Which habits need to change or upgrade? What drains you? What gives you joy? What are you doing to take care of yourself each and every day? A habit that focuses on improving your wellbeing does not have to be something big; just a cup of tea or a 10-minute journal habit every morning can do wonders to ease your mind.
- Participate in community service activities. Did you know that giving back to others boosts our immune system as well as our overall wellbeing? It makes us feel good to give back.
- Develop and maintain healthy eating habits. Listen to the good old advice of eating a balanced diet. Incorporate whole foods and cut back on excessive sugar, carbohydrates, bad cholesterol, alcohol and caffeine.
- Don’t skip the fitness routine. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
- Read and learn more about self-improvement for a healthier lifestyle. Not sure how to practice or when to begin leading a healthy lifestyle or practising more self-care habits? Educate yourself! There are plenty of resources available online about healthy eating habits, fitness, stress management and ways to release negative energy. It is important for you to design a system or routine of a healthy lifestyle that works for you.
- Ask for mental health support. Reach out to a mental health professional or ask your company for support in obtaining access for mental health support.
Your work, comprising an average of 40 hours worth of your life in a week, should not risk your physical and mental health. Remember that we need to take responsibility for our own wellbeing. This starts with you, and you just might inspire others to do the same!
About the Author
Managing Partner at Bessern and Talent Development Specialist
Elena is an entrepreneur, talent development specialist and education advocate with a deep interest in neuroscience and behavioural sciences. She is known for her ability to drive change within individuals and organisations that are looking to reach their potential and maintain their competitive edge in the business world. She started her career in higher education, having worked across various institutions, departments and regions. In her recent years, she dove into business and joined Bessern, as well as founded a learning and developing consultancy and several other projects within the talent development arena.
She is an engaging skills trainer and talent development specialist, credited with combining operations, education and international expertise to design and deliver programs for diverse audiences. Elena has a strong passion for L&D, promoting creative and engaging workplaces and all about optimising performance through the development of others. As a career coach, Elena has over ten years of experience working with individuals across different generations, supporting them in achieving their professional and personal goals.