By. Dr. Brittany Castonguay 12 June 23 #Self
Burnout is more than dread and lack of motivation. Burnout can have secondary and tertiary health effects. According to Psychology Today, burnout is defined as “The cynicism, depression, and lethargy that are characteristic of burnout most often occur when a person is not in control of how a job is carried out, at work or home, or is asked to complete tasks that conflict with their sense of self.” In addition to the lack of control felt in the office or at home, people struggling with burnout can also experience headaches, fatigue, heartburn, and gastrointestinal issues and are at increased risk for food, alcohol, and drug misuse. Since burnout can negatively penetrate all aspects of our life, it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of our mental and physical ailments.
We cannot exclude the impact Covid has had on our lives. The remnants of its global implications are still being felt as we regain normalcy. In response to a return to normalcy, organizations must accept that pre-Covid- and post-Covid operations may always be different. People have stressors that evolved either due to Covid or stressors that they are no longer willing to accept in return for work. This can mean several different things, but work-life balance is a leading demand among American workers in a post-Covid world.
Covid showed workers a different perspective; many are no longer willing to accept pre-Covid work standards. When a value mismatch arises between organizations and employees, burnout can occur. People are asked to complete tasks that struggle with their sense of self. This internal struggle will take on mental and physical representations until the internal struggle is resolved. Sometimes the resolution is a challenging one. People remain with organizations for reasons that are their own. What is known about these internal struggles is that employees can only handle so much negativity before a change becomes necessary.
The resulting negativity of these internal struggles becomes burnout. A small process that develops over time, burnout results from a lack of control. An identity crisis, if you will. Employees struggling with burnout can slowly regain control over their work and livelihood by implementing little steps to help create positive boundaries and self-love that can reduce the feeling of burnout. Ultimately, we are responsible for what we can control and must acknowledge that some aspects of our lives will always be beyond our control. However, we are responsible for managing ourselves, and focusing on what we can control will help develop a mindset that can battle the adverse effects of burnout.
Self-care is a building supported by four strong pillars. When a pillar has defects, the building is not up to code. The same analogy applies to self-care. These pillars are physical wellness, mental health, spiritual and emotional support. Each house is built differently to support the individual, but each pillar is equally important. Taking a few moments each day to focus on a pillar that may be struggling can do imminent wonders for a person.
Focus on Perspective.
This routes back up to what was discussed earlier. Some things will always be out of our control. Just like we cannot control the weather, we cannot control the actions of others. By accepting this, we will alleviate stress, worry, and fear. This also allows us to focus on things that genuinely need our attention. In the office, we can rationalize perspective-keeping by monitoring what is a priority task and eliminating those first. By knocking out the priority items, we can remove key stressors from our plate. In some instances, it helps to keep a to-do list broken down by priority levels and complexity. For example, those dealing with burnout may focus on low-threat, low-complexity tasks to avoid the tasks that cause them stress. In reality, by misprioritizing what is important, the high-stressor items stay around longer and cause more harm than by eliminating the easier-to-remove tasks.
Reducing Job Stressors.
A focus on prioritization leads to reducing job stressors that cause unhealthy triggers. In this situation, prioritization and focus will be your best friends. Acknowledge what needs to be done and develop a support system to help you as you work towards reducing stressors. In the end, we are often our own worst enemy. The fear of failure is a real concept that plagues many of us. Whether we consciously accept this idea or not is up to the
individual. Yet, fear of failure is real. Setting healthy boundaries, having the courage to say no, and managing expectations help combat that fear by establishing an order of importance. At the front of that line-up, our mental well-being must be number one.
Develop a Support System.
You may have realized now that these tips to combat burnout are interlinked and with good reason too. Since burnout affects all aspects of our lives, our countermeasures must also positively impact our lives. A positive support system can negate the adverse effects of cynicism and inefficacy brought on by burnout. Support systems need to be integrated into all aspects of our life. We all need a work best friend and a shoulder to cry on friend. We need positive influences that will support us and help us get through the periods of burnout to see that there is another side.
Ultimately, burnout is a nasty beast that can overwhelm our lives and cause us to grow disgruntled. With burnout being the result of a lack of control or a mismatch of values, we own our response to how we let burnout fester in our lives. Even after taking all of the steps above, it may not be enough, and we must consider what is best for us and our families. Sometimes, this requires moving on from a position and finding balance elsewhere. That is okay, too, and does not make us a failure. It makes us a warrior who did not allow a job to wear us out mentally, physically, and emotionally. Winning looks different for each of us, and sometimes winning is having the strength to say we are more important than the position that brought us down.