We’ve all experienced that feeling of ‘burnout’.
Exhaustion, lack of motivation, heaviness, disinterest.
Well, it’s official. Thanks to the research and classification of the World Health Organisation (WHO), burnout is now a medically classified ‘occupational syndrome’.
What does this mean?
Burnout isn’t just a feeling. It’s now a medically diagnosable illness with long term impacts on both mental and physical health.
Burnout is defined by WHO as “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”.
Typical symptoms are:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
And it can have pretty significant effects on general health as well. Findings released by WHO suggest that burnout can increase likelihood of heart disease, chronic pain, headaches, insomnia and depression.
There’s even research that suggests the effects of burnout on the brain can mirror that of early childhood trauma – and it’s irreversible.
What can we take from this?
It’s important to look after yourself!
Burnout has become a pretty common issue in workplaces, in part due to increasing pressures on productivity, performance and salary. Throw in social media, email and smartphones and we’re basically always working, or at least thinking about work in some capacity.
We know that self-care can seem like a luxury to the time-poor. It’s also common for ‘self-care’ to be rebranded as selfish.
We’re arguing that it shouldn’t be optional.
We go to the gym to care for our physical health – why shouldn’t we take a day off if that’s what our mental health demands?
Our top tips to avoiding burnout:
1. Don’t be afraid to take time off
If you’re feeling exhausted, unmotivated and uninspired, one of the best things you can do for yourself is take some time off. Switch your phone off, reconnect with loved ones, do something you love. Sometimes all you need is one day to reset!
2. Schedule free time
It’s easy to get caught up in daily routine and forget to relax. Schedule daily time (be it 15 minutes, an hour, or more) to do something you enjoy. This may be reading a book, going for a walk, watching TV, or even taking a nap. Chances are, your productivity levels will be higher than if you were to work right through the day.
3. Switch up your environment
It’s easy to fatigue when you’re sitting in the same spot for eight hours a day. Sometimes, a simple walk, a different room or desk, or even a small retreat can do wonders for your motivation levels and mental health.
4. Say ‘no’
Ever find yourself concocting elaborate excuses to dodge plans? Believe it or not, it’s ok to just say ‘no’ sometimes. You don’t have to be busy all the time, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for turning down something that you don’t want to do, or don’t have the mental capacity for. It’s not selfish – it’s self-care.
Meditation has positive effects on everything from stress levels to mood, concentration, anxiety, awareness and compassion. According to a PubMed study conducted with 3,500 adults, stress levels in every adult reduced to some extent with regular meditation and mindfulness incorporated into their routine. And there’s a lot more evidence where that came from that prove meditation really does live up to its hype. If you’d like to get started, it’s as easy as downloading the free Headspace app.