By Guest Author
They say nothing lasts forever, sadly that applies to excitement and drive. Sometimes the bolstering energy that allows you to handle tasks with passion and precision dies out. You find yourself stuck, bored, exhausted, wondering why you even loved doing this.
That is Burnout, originally coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the year 1974. It is quickly becoming a workplace theme with a Mental Health America survey indicating that 75% of workers are no strangers to it. It is also estimated that around 120,000 deaths and almost $190 billion in global healthcare costs per year are due to burnout and its harrowing psychological impact.
A Brief History
In the 70s, social psychologist Christina Maslach conducted her groundbreaking research on burnout, where she and her team interviewed numerous employees. They all expressed diverse negative thoughts which included resentment towards work, feeling useless, feeling emotionally exhausted, and nihilism.
Her article debuted in a magazine called Human Behavior, and it became an overnight sensation. Many were amazed and related with Dr. Maslach's assessments on burnout. It finally brought mainstream attention to a shunned and ostracized mental condition. People felt like their voices were being heard. The article led to more social awareness, books and academic research on the topic.
“I had not expected at all that kind of reaction. The impact of that article was just huge.” Dr. Maslach said.
The instrumental discovery
But Dr. Maslach didn't stop there, she would later collaborate with Susan E. Jackson of Rutgers University to produce her most influential work, the Maslach Burnout Instrument (MBI), a widely used instrument of assessing and measuring burnout. It describes burnout using three distinct components:
Cynicism – Developing a bleak, pessimistic view on work and sometimes clients. Feeling like none of what you're doing matters.
Detachment – Losing interest and motivation. This is what often comes to mind when people think of burnout.
Fatigue – it can be a physical reaction to the burnout apathy, but fatigue is most commonly caused by being overworked.
What does this mean for you?
Everyone knows that these negative emotions can hinder productivity, ruin customer/colleague relationships, and put a hard cap on your financial aspirations. But what most employees and bosses tend to overlook is the most pivotal repercussion, one that countless studies have shown to be true: how constant stress, if left unchecked, can bring about severe depression and anxiety.
Not dealing with the Cynicism, Detachment and Emotional Fatigue that burnout brings will allow it to spiral out of control, leading to it taking over the other half of your life. Suddenly, your personal moments of relaxation are invaded by the deep resentment of work; all you can think about is the imminent threat of Mondays. Fatigue also spills over into your social life, turning weekend enjoyments into another chore as you're too emotionally and physically drained to have fun.
As we all know, the depression rate among young adults today is staggering, about one in five (21%) have experienced signs. Workplace stress can either lead to or amplify this problem. And neither corporations nor governments are doing enough. It is up to the working man and woman to fend for themselves. It is up to YOU, to look out for and take care of your mental well-being. Whatever it takes, you must never allow yourself to go down that path.
What you can do
Do you often wonder how some people effortlessly handle it? How they can work 9 to 5 for decades without breaking a sweat or missing a beat, how they come home to their families with a big smile on their face and their emotional stability intact? Most of us have had parents or grandparents just like that.
The truth is, those people chose their lives over their careers, not to the point of quitting their jobs obviously, but they viewed labor as a way of enjoying life rather than a painstaking hindrance. Their grind was outweighed by their gratitude.
In other words, burnout happens when your inner self is overwhelmed by workplace demands. Which is why you must nourish that inner-being by forming healthy habits like meditation, exercise, discovering new hobbies, etc. In addition, you should also be much more in touch with friends and loved ones and cherish every second you spend with them.
Do not let your job take over your life. Cultivating strong emotional resilience is one of the ways Dr. Maslach and many psychologists recommend fighting burnout before it can even get a hold of you. Putting more value and meaning into your life creates a stronger will to endure anything.