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How to Identify Burnout & 4 Ways to Combat It

Workplace Burnout
Jessie Miño
Published on

It seems like nowadays folks are talking more and more about mental health. The last few years have been tough and the world’s “normal” shifted. 

During this time, we dealt with our emotions on all sides of the spectrum. Adjusting and trying to navigate the circumstances as best as we possibly could. On top of it all, we had to balance our work situations, and truthfully, the stress has been real.

 A very prevalent result of workplace stress is burnout, and I think a lot of us can relate. 

What is burnout & how can you identify it so you can begin taking control? 

What is Burnout? 

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified burnout as a syndrome that stems from an occupational phenomenon.  

This syndrome — not medical diagnosis — is caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” In this context, external factors, such as workplace dysfunction, are primarily to blame. Burnout can also be described as a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.  

Although there isn’t a clinical diagnosis for burnout, the symptoms for it are pretty common across the board. Symptoms can include: 

  • cynical and short-fused temper
  • loss of empathy
  • lack of energy
  • trouble sleeping
  • increased absenteeism or presenteeism 

What can be some causes of burnout? Possible circumstances can include: 

  • Exclusion of a work-life balance
  • Stretching yourself thin across all of your “to-dos”
  • Feelings of continuous isolation
  • Lack of support within your surroundings 
  • High-demand/high-pressure work

The Current State of Employee Wellbeing   

How much is the state of mental health affecting employees today? Lyra Health’s 2022 State of Workforce Mental Health report found that burnout increased to 32% by the end of 2021, up from 29% for 2020. In fact, another survey conducted by Reimagine Work shows that almost half of all employees report being at least somewhat burned out. 

Lyra Health's 2022 State of Workforce Mental Health Report: Levels of Burnout

Another key finding is the correlation between employee engagement and wellbeing in the workplace. Gallup's February 2022 study indicates that engagement is highest and burnout is lowest for hybrid or fully remote employees, while engagement is lowest and burnout is highest for fully on-site workers.

Gallup also identified five elements of wellbeing that contribute to a thriving life: 

  1. Career
  2. Social
  3. Financial
  4. Community
  5. Physical wellbeing

A comparison between employees who have high engagement, but low wellbeing to those with high engagement and high wellbeing in four out of the five categories above, are thirty-percent (30%) more likely to not miss any workdays. An indicator that burnout will likely occur less frequently. 

However, that’s not to say that if those things aren’t in order in our lives, we don’t have a chance. Our circumstances are reparative and we can begin to help ourselves regain a balanced sense of health and wellbeing going forward. 

Gallup February 2022 Study: Engagement and Burnout Rates Amongst Remote Capable Employees

4 Ways to Manage Burnout

1. Practice Mindfulness

Being mindful suggests that the mind is fully aware and in tune to what’s happening, to what you’re doing, and to the space you’re moving through. Seems simple enough, until you try it out and start obsessing over all of your thoughts. The good news: this is all a part of the process. 

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present and aware. Being mindful does not require you to empty your mind or enter a sudden state of euphoria, and it doesn’t just happen overnight. Mindfulness is a continuous practice that takes time and patience. It’s not judgemental.

It begins & ends with your body, so being in tune with your physical needs is vital. A simple way to think of it is training your attention to achieve a mental state of calm concentration and positive emotions. 

According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a licensed psychologist based in New York, “meditation, when practiced regularly, can rewire the neural pathways in the brain. Studies indicate that meditating even 20 minutes per day for a few weeks was already enough to start experiencing the benefits.”  

Various studies have shown that mediation can also help maintain brain health and neuroplasticity — the capacity of brain cells to form new connections.

2. Evaluate Your Circumstance & Seek Support

Many times the answer can be right in front of us, we just need to find a way to it. Having a candid conversation about your circumstances & being transparent about expectations is a good way to work on managing the burnout symptoms.  Are there certain projects you can take off your plate? Can you wrangle additional resources to get certain tasks done? 

Having a support system of managers and supervisors can help ease the pressures that lead to burnout. Everyone struggles with time management and workload balance. Just remember, you don’t have to do this on your own.

Lyra Health's 2022 State of Workforce Mental Health Report: Mental health experiences across generations

3. Do Something Joyful & Relaxing

Haven’t we all gone on vacation and dreamt of staying in that moment forever? The joy and relaxation distracts you from your everyday problems and creates a moment of peace.

Positive emotions can decrease stress hormones and build emotional strength.

Leisure activities offer a distraction from problems and build a sense of competence. 

Studies have shown that when you are involved in activities or moments that make you laugh, it decreases pain, may help your heart and lungs, promotes muscle relaxation and can reduce anxiety. So make it a priority to find time in your day (everyday) to do something that makes you happy.

Finding the joy in life, even the small things, will allow you to balance your mindset and help you overcome your burnout symptoms.

4. Unplug and Disconnect

A few years ago, the average screen time for adults in the United States landed at 11 hours per day. Since lockdown, this number has gone up to an astounding 19 hours per day. 

We always worry about moderating children’s screen time, but what about the effects of constant screen time on adults? Negative effects include: 

  • Insomnia and poor sleep quality
  • Headaches and eye strain
  • Increased risk of obesity
  • Susceptibility to chronic health conditions
  • Loss of cognitive ability
  • Impaired socializing skills
  • Weakened emotional judgment

Disconnecting every once and awhile will improve your wellness, both physically and mentally. Let your mind rest, so you can fight the symptoms of burnout.

Help Your Employees Help Themselves

Taking care of your well being is crucial for every aspect of your life. Burnout doesn’t just impact your work life, it impacts your personal life as well. Make sure you take the necessary steps to prevent stress in the workplace, so you can be your best self.

Providing your employees with the resources they need to prioritize wellness will  bring about positive benefits. Take a look at our workplace perks report to learn more about what leaders are doing to ensure their workplace thrives.

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