What can you do to prevent burnout?
It is normal to feel stressed at times at work. When it becomes too much and leads to cynicism and exhaustion, it is called burnout.
Burnout at work is affecting many people. A recent survey showed that almost half of doctors in Ireland said they have considered leaving their profession because of the cost to their personal wellbeing.
A report published earlier this month, 'Breaking the Burnout Cycle', revealed that 91% of the 143 Irish doctors who took part in the global survey do not have someone taking care of staff wellbeing at work.
People who are burned out don't always realise they are burned out. One doctor reported: ' I didn't realise I was burnt out until the last two or three months but looking back it was coming for about two years'.
The President of the Medical Protection Society (MPS), which published the report, said:
'When doctors feel burnt out it is not only bad for the doctors concerned but also for patients and the wider healthcare team. The obvious reality is that doctors who are happy and engaged find it much easier to be compassionate and provide safer patient care'.
As of June 2019, the World Health Organization has redefined Burnout an 'occupational phenomenon' caused by chronic stress with the following symptoms:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one's job
- Reduced professional efficacy (work performance)
Being always on, 24-7 emails, increased expectations for instant service and the innate desire of many people to please and be perfect have all made it increasingly difficult for people to switch off from the workplace.
Who is at risk of burnout?
Professions that involve dealing with people are most at risk of burnout - this includes teachers, care workers, retail and hospitality staff, and prison officers. Emergency worker staff including paramedics, police and nurses and doctors are at even higher risk because they are continuously working in highly stressful conditions.
A recent study of 15000 doctors in the US found that 44 percent are experiencing symptoms of burnout.
Many other professions are also stressed. Seventy three percent of lawyers in a A recent UK survey reported feelings of burnout. Anyone that is pushed beyond their threshold of coping for long periods of time is likely to suffer burnout.
There are things employers can do and there are things we can do as individuals. Here is what you and do for yourself.
1. Boost your personal resilience by switching-off and setting clear boundaries for work. Being 'always on' depletes resilience.
2. Build quality chill / relaxation time in to your day. Many people only 'relax' when they are exhausted. This will not recharge the batteries fully.
3. If your job is making you miserable - try and put it in a better place. See what can be done to improve it. If it continues to make you miserable, consider changing it or at least part of your role.
4. Understand that stress is more about how you handle situations rather than the situation itself. When you 'chill' you see things differently and naturally learn to handle things in a better way.
5. Unplug from technology and screens more.
6. Focus on what you want.
7. Do more of what you love and spend time with people you love every day.
The good news for employers is that burnout can be prevented by having programmes and strategies to give people the tools to avoid it and address early symptoms. Prevention is always better and less costly than cure.
Calodagh McCumiskey designs and delivers bespoke wellbeing at work programmes to grow people and companies. She also offers regular meditation classes, personal development workshops and wellbeing consultations to help people thrive. Ph 053 9140655 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Visit www.spiritualearth.com