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Burnout. There’s a lot of it about.

Indeed, it has grown by 5% over the last 12 months.

With quiet quitting now being widely adopted as a survival strategy, it’s clear that pamper packages and weekends away, are not a vaccine, nor a cure.


How burnout became contagious

Just like a virus, burnout occurs in those crowded places called work where the predominant environment often places priority on profit and KPIs before people. Where the need to always be available, is disrupting home life, relationships, and sleep.

Where the growing inability to switch off has led to the question, “is all of this worth it?”

When your answer becomes “no,” what will you do?

A study by Microsoft has reported that globally 40% of the workforce are considering quitting their jobs.

The Great Resignation is real, is occurring at every level of the workforce and burnout has contributed to this post-Covid phenomenon.

This is happening because the impact of living through the pandemic has led many to reconsider their career. 

Some are choosing to retire earlier. 

Others are seeking better (read more flexible) working conditions, some are relocating to the country, some are simply looking for work that won’t feel like it’s putting their mental health at risk.

Which is why some executives are leaving to take on lower-paid, lower-stress roles. 

Why some have opted to seek a hybrid way of working and others to work from home all the time. Digital nomads are setting up shop in Bali and elsewhere, seeking a better work-life balance and lifestyle.

If you’ve realised that you are currently working harder than ever before and putting in more hours, you’re at higher risk of burning out – the occupational syndrome that results from being exposed to chronic unmanageable stress.


Is this the Third Quarter or the Fourth Wave?

Perhaps it’s merely the next gripping instalment of the Games of Thrones.

Those in the health sector see this rise in burnout as part of the fourth-wave impact of the global pandemic. Higher levels of psychic trauma, mental illness, economic injury, and burnout.

The worst thing about burning out is:

  1. It can hit you like a freight train that you never saw coming – though it was approaching from afar for a while
  2. Recovery can be slow and lengthy – it can be hard to function at all
  3. Not everyone gets what you’re going through, and some believe you must have done something to bring it upon yourself (THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!)

Burnout is a spectrum

Ask 10 burnout survivors what burnout is, and you’ll get 10 different answers.

Because it is unique to the individual concerned. 

There is no single cause and there are many paths to recovery.

The thing with burnout, because it’s become so normal to always be ridiculously busy, feeling exhausted, frazzled, and overwhelmed is how most days are, you suck it up and keep going.

Sometimes you may be aware that things aren’t right, but often we’re not. Having someone else call this out can be the wake-up call you need.

Not everyone who experiences burnout will experience the entire spectrum and if it is picked up early, it’s easier to sort out, without necessarily having to take time off work.


The Three Components of Burnout

1. Total exhaustion.

This is not just about being tired. This is bone-aching fatigue that has sapped every gram of energy from your body and mind – physically, mentally, emotionally, cognitively.

Normally when you reach the point of exhaustion, you recognise it’s time to stop.

In burnout, you feel compelled to keep pushing through regardless and worse still once you’ve reached you goal, there’s no sense of completion or achievement.

Has this ever happened to you?


2. Cynicism and growing negativity.

You’ve lost sight of the positive or the ability to find pleasure in any of those activities and people who would normally bring a smile to your face. Everything has taken on a dull grey hue. There’s nothing good to look forward to and it’s all feeling hopeless.


3. Loss of efficacy.

With no energy, no motivation, and no interest, you can’t be bothered to put in any effort. Tasks you would normally find quick and simple to do now become slow and tedious. Your performance plummets, but you no longer care.


RISING to the challenge

In their 2022 Global Burnout Study co-authors, Dr John Chan and Sally Clarke call on business leaders to develop their awareness of what burnout is and to embed wellbeing as part of the business strategy. RISE (Rethink, Inspire, Support and Experiment) is the framework identified to assist in shifting organisational structure and culture to become more people-centric.

It’s time for all of us to play our part.

What if you were to call time out on burnout?

Because you’re done more than your fair share of doing more than you’re contracted to do, staying late, coming in early and stepping up when needed to help.

You’ve done more than enough to demonstrate your competency.

You’ve realised life includes all facets of your life, more than work alone

You know your identity is not defined only by what you do.

Burnout. It’s so unnecessary, outmoded and damaging.

It’s time to make it redundant and kill the contagion.

Will you be joining the “make burnout redundant” campaign?

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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