Burnout is a beast. Burnout looks different for everyone, but is defined the same. According to HelpGuide, a Non Profit organization, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.” Many people recognize burnout as a result of busy professional career demands or “hustling,”but this can happen to anyone in any position. Fun Fact: the definition of burnout just recently changed by the World Health Organization and your doctor can now write you a doctors note from work for suffering from burnout.
According to Elaine Cheunge, PhD, an assistant professor of social sciences at Northwestern University specializing in researching burnout, “the latest burnout definition clarifies this medical diagnosis, which can help draw attention to its prevalence.” Continuing on her research behind burnout and the shift of definition from the World Health Organization (WHO) Cheunge explains that:
“In an article featured at Healthline, Dr. Cheunge says, "Understanding burnout means being able to distinguish it from other mental health concerns. Psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, and panic disorders can affect one’s ability to function at work, but burnout is a condition that stems from working too much." she says. their relationship to their work may lead to this condition,” she says. Having this information is vital because burnout interventions should focus on improving the relationship between an individual and their work," she adds.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Defines Burnout
Burn-out is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon. It is not classified as a medical condition and is described as: “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed." It is characterized 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.”
Did you know that there are 5 stages of Burnout?
According to Thrive Global, these stages look like:
The Newcomer, or Honeymoon stage: At this point, you’ve likely just started a new position. You’re satisfied, high-energy, and eager to continue.
Early Stress: You’ll start to notice some bad days when you struggle throughout the day, and likely find yourself beginning to have some waning optimism. At this point, you might find the physical manifestations of anxiety and stress beginning to pop up: fatigue, grinding teeth, headaches heart palpitations, or similar issues.
Chronic Stress: This is when burnout is right on the horizon. This stage of the process is marked by constant low-level stress and exhaustion, apathy, being emotional ‘on-edge,’ and increased bad habits like smoking or alcohol being used as self medication. While each stage beforehand is a step in the process, true burnout happens when these issues are chronic: headaches, stomach issues, and other physical manifestations of stress have become constant.
Habitual Burnout: This is the worst point when burnout becomes a truly clinical matter.
How to Deal with Burnout
American society teaches us we tend to hide burnout and pretend it does not exist. It is seen as part of the hard working mindset and the thought to “just keep going” and it will eventually go away, due to achieving success. Burnout can be understood, treated, and even avoided to some degree— but this cannot happen if it is ignored. While it looks somewhat different for everyone, the common thread to handling it is to acknowledge and correct the pace, including trying to delegate more and placing boundaries on one's time. As the current trending statement says: “it’s okay to not be okay.” When you feel the effects of burnout, take a deep breath and take care of yourself. Self-care is more than a face mask every once in a while, it can be seen as prioritizing yourself.
Taking care of yourself can be that one day per week that you go to your local trail for a breath of fresh air, or the one day you stop at your favorite coffee shop for a treat. It can be winding down earlier and getting more sleep. It most certainly can mean finding ways to ask for help or streamline some tasks and work or at home. Take the time that you need to maintain your mental health and prevent burnout so you can continue to lead in your own way, own your sanity, and fully participate in the lives of others.
Written by Maggie Rose
This article has been republished from Renewed Awareness Magazine.