With globalization, digitalization, dual-income households, and social media, people are experiencing job burnout now more than ever.
We're all out to achieve so much more than our ancestors did because, well, life isn't just about survival anymore (thank goodness!). This wave of busyness and accelerated living is exciting, but it's also causing a drained generation.
On the work front, mental health is a hot topic for organizations everywhere because it's costing companies money. For instance, the prevalence of major depression within the workforce in the United States is estimated to cost $210 billion per year and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it's the leading cause of disability worldwide. Recently, the WHO classified burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis, characterizing it as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The ability of a doctor to diagnose a patient with burnout legitimizes the condition and underscores the seriousness of being afflicted.
Signs of job burnout can be classified as becoming overridden by any mental health issues from depression, anxiety, and stress to deeper, more complex issues. However, you don't need to be overtaken by physical work to feel burnt out. In fact, emotional labour can cause feelings of fatigue that mimic depression.
Considering that one-third of the South African population suffers from some form of mental health issue in their lifetime, it's important to understand the signs of burnout and to invest in your mental wellbeing today to ensure a healthy and functional future.
1. Check yourself
Overcommitting and charging full speed ahead without minding the why behind a certain decision is probably the number one mistake people make today. Instead of following your heart's desire, you may be one of many people who are living the life that society has dictated without stopping to consider what you want. People say “yes” all day to functions, people, tasks, and things without stopping and asking themselves what they want.
- DON'T: Do things only because you “should” do them. Should is a dirty word.
- DO: Practice regular check-ins with yourself to avoid life and job burnout. Review the many areas of life. Do you feel the way you want to feel?
2. Practice self-love
It's absolutely critical to take the time to care for yourself. There is no excuse. Self-love will be whatever you need to recharge. For me, it's nature, quiet, and creativity. For others, it might be a night out with close friends or a long run. Do something regularly that helps you unwind and feel grounded again.
- DON'T: Put yourself last. You cannot be a great partner/parent/teammate/relative/employee if you're always feeling burnt out from your job.
- DO: Practice self-love and take an inventory of your feelings: How did a certain activity make you feel?
3. Pay attention
The sooner you're able to detect the signs of a burnout creeping up on you, the better. This perception takes emotional intelligence and the ability to be conscious of your emotions. Your body will tell you something's wrong — you just need to listen to it. Some physical signs of job burnout include exhaustion, insomnia, irritability, loss of interest, and lack of appetite. You can stay in tune with yourself by having regular check-ins with yourself. A journal makes the process of checking in natural and can be helpful for future references. Journaling also helps with unwinding, putting things into perspective, and releasing negative feelings.
- DON'T: Delay! Two in three people will keep their concerns about mental health to themselves for fear of being judged. Release yourself from this stigma and seek help. Chances are others have felt the same way.
- DO: Pay attention to your heart every day. Be mindful of how you're feeling. If you notice anything that worries you, ask a friend about it.
I mentioned before that mental health affects one in five people. You may not be exempt and that's okay. The most important thing is to build resilience now. A healthy, strong foundation can withstand the storm. By taking care of yourself now you can be better prepared when crisis strikes — because it just might! Life tends to compound on us. Sometimes when it rains, it pours, so invest in a good roof today.
If you are facing a mental health challenge or you are experiencing signs of burnout, reach out and seek help.