By Kris Deminick
I’m not referring to the type of burnout teens do in a shopping mall parking lot late at night, but one that has the same effect of sending us into a tailspin. Energetic burnout is a symptom of the productivity-driven world in which we operate. It’s a relatively new phenomenon, but one which the World Health Organisation now includes in the International Classification of Diseases.
Burnout: “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress” marked by:
1) feelings of energy depletion/exhaustion
2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism to one’s job
3) reduced professional efficacy
As human beings we are not wired to be on alert and on demand 24/7, yet the pressures of workplace expectations, digital notifications, and reaching a certain level of achievement, keeps us in the energetic “hustle” for far longer than is healthy. As we get more stressed, we work longer. As we feel more pressure, we push harder. As we doubt ourselves, we beat ourselves up more harshly. This mounts, our mind and bodies buckle, and hello Burnout. Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. I’ve been there, and many of my clients have too. So what can we do about it?
Track your signs & symptoms.
Many of us don’t realise the impact of stress until it’s too late, often because we don’t truly recognise our own signs of stress. Get to know your first signs of stress intimately. Keep track of feelings, physical tension, and emotional reactions from your day, and then find patterns as to when, in what environment, and with which people you are triggered. The more awareness you have of how you operate, the quicker you can take care of yourself when it hits.
Take “busy” off the pedestal.
Modern work culture glorifies hustle. The truth is, work can still be done efficiently and brilliantly when we aren’t bending over backwards to do it. Notice when you’re choosing work over friends/family and truly ask yourself why? If it’s to impress the boss, or get ahead, or avoid something else, then it’s time to stop and reflect. Also, take your sick days and mental health days when you need them. They are your entitlement and are there to be used, plus no-one wants sick people in the office, let’s be honest!
Put the phone down.
Create a more sane relationship with your phone. Start by not checking it first thing in the morning. Your phone is the gateway to external influence, expectation, and opinion, which often sets off your stress response – NOT something you want as soon as you open your eyes from sleep! Take this further by using features like Do Not Disturb mode, disable notifications, or periodically lock apps.
Exercise and Sleep.
Take note of how much sleep you need to be operating at your best, and honour that as diligently as you do your meetings with clients. Sleep is one of the simplest and most immediate ways we can improve our wellbeing. It’s benefits go far beyond how much energy we have, into cellular health, brain function, and healthy bodily systems.
Gratitude and Kindness
Burnout brings with it a cycle of negative thinking. Start an active gratitude and kindness practice to combat this. You might like to write down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of every day, use mantras or affirmations during meditation, or make random acts of kindness for others to immerse yourself in positive energy.
Be the one to speak up at work
As an employee you are responsible for safe-guarding your own wellbeing, but you can also help create greater change by speaking up to your employer. Set the stage for an honest yet respectful conversation with HR or your manager about the conditions at work that cause the most stress. Be sure to prepare some suggestions for improvement so you are seen to be pioneering positive change, not just highlighting negative scenarios. Some workplace wellness ideas may be; encouraging lunch times away from desks, providing fresh fruit in the kitchen, providing or subsidizing exercise and meditation classes, analysing the “meeting culture” to reduce any unnecessary time wasters, flexible work from home options, obtaining feedback on stress/emotional health in staff reviews, and time in lieu for hours worked overtime.
Kris Deminick is an Internationally Certified + Award Nominated Life Coach, Mindfulness Instructor, and Marketing Specialist. Kris helps individuals and businesses prioritise wellbeing in the workplace to manage stress, burnout and self doubt. She facilitates workshops, 1:1 coaching, and conference wellness services to bring work back to the humans that get it done. Her techniques promote creative health to allow her clients to get their spark back.
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