Though burnout is not considered a formal medical condition, it is recognized by the World Health Organization as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11)—the widely-recognized handbook used by medical professionals—describes burnout as:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
- Reduced professional efficacy
According to Christina Maslach, PhD—an expert on occupational burnout—this syndrome can result from the interplay of both individual and organizational factors. Dr. Maslach notes six areas that increase the risk of burnout:
- Too much work: Unbalanced workload with not enough resources to complete the tasks
- Too little control: Lack of choice/discretion in how to innovate/do the job better
- Poor Reward System: Not enough recognition for a job done well
- Lack of Community: Unhealthy/unsupportive workplace relationships with supervisors/supervisees, peers and/or clients
- Unfair Treatment: Discrimination, disrespect, etc.
- Values mismatch: Work tasks that conflict with ethics/morals
Taking a brief vacation from work might provide short-term relief, but it’s unlikely to “cure” burnout. Fortunately, there are ways that workplace stress can be managed as a long-term solution to burnout:
- Create and maintain boundaries: Perhaps the first step here is a conversation with a supervisor or human resources manager to discuss reasonable changes that can be made. Boundaries look different for everyone. Boundaries might mean turning off the computer at a certain time, not returning phone calls outside of business hours, scheduling a full lunch hour to take time to recharge, etc.
- Observe your body: The first manifestation of burnout can be seen in physical exhaustion, aches and pains, etc. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and make changes accordingly.
- Schedule your relaxation: That’s right, put it on the calendar. Thirty minutes for yoga, 10 minutes for meditation, one hour of reading for enjoyment. Make it a part of the routine.
- Maintain a support system: Spend time with people you care about and prioritize fostering those relationships.
It’s also important to recognize that, as individuals, we only have control over our own behavior and reactions (which includes implementing the tips above). Organizations, however, also bear the responsibility of making changes that can help prevent workplace burnout.
The professional clinicians at Travco Behavioral Health can help you decrease work-related stress and manage symptoms of burnout. Contact us today at 330-286-0050!