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Burnout: What It Means and How to Avoid

Burnout has now been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘occupational phenomenon’.

A study conducted by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence suggests:

“1 in 5 employees who identified themselves as ‘engaged’ at work also reported ‘high burnout‘.”

Burnout isn’t just feeling exhausted, it’s not necessarily a feeling of stress, rather a complete state of almost wipe-out, where everything’s too much at work, your energy levels feel at an all-time low and you don’t seem to shake it when you get home.

What is burnout?

It is defined by the WHO as:

“Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

“It is characterised by three dimensions: 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.

“Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”

How do you avoid burnout?

If you’re not currently experiencing signs of burnout someone in your organisation likely is, and you’ll have likely endured it previously.

It’s not often straightforward to avoid burnout and we always recommend speaking to a GP or medical professional as well as an HR professional at your organisation for support.

However we follow the ethos of “tidy desk, tidy mind”, which expands into ensuring your inbox isn’t overflowing, your desk isn’t swamped and you aren’t running ragged thanks to meetings, deadlines and other responsibilities.

In fact, it’s important to recognise colleagues’ potential need for support and a ‘breather’ as part of your company ethos and culture.

At Thrive if we notice someone’s workload is particularly chaotic, or their desk is swamped with various papers and projects, we will ask them to take five and check they feel they can cope with all that is required of them.

We encourage individuals to do this by putting in 15/30-minute slots in their work calendar for tidying their desk, organising their email inbox and creating priority goal lists.

Ask yourself:

“If it’s impossible to do everything that’s being asked of me today, what CAN I achieve?”.

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