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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Let’s talk about burnout



Kirjoittanut: Marcos Homar Heinonen - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Yksilöessee / 2 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 4 minuuttia.

Burnout numbers are at their peak in Europe and especially among young professionals. In Finland, about 90% of answerers to YPAI-research (Young professional attraction index) have said that they have had or been close to having burnout. A big misconception regarding burnout is that it would be a problem of only people in high-demand jobs that work crazy hours a week. Burnout hits the younger generation hard because of many reasons. The modern culture where people have to be reachable at all times is draining. I have heard/read that people in the 21st century receive more information in 1 day than a person 100 years ago in a year.

Burnout is a problem at the level of organizations, not people. Burnout means emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. Burnout lowers the ability of an individual to work and has similar symptoms to mental problems, depression, and anxiety. Burnout is not only a problem for the individual as it affects the whole working environment. The lack of motivation for workers means lower productivity. This is why it is very important to have an open dialogue about topics like burnout.

The paja I hosted themed burnout had a clear execution plan. We bring the theme to the team and from there, everyone shares their own viewpoint. Teaching about burnout is very complicated when you are not a professional in the field. Preventing lecturing opens the possibility for open dialogue. Feeling burned out is something people don’t usually feel comfortable sharing about as it is personal. That’s why psychological safety is important for sharing your own experiences and knowledge with the team. The more open people can be the better.

 

Difference between stress and burnout

 

Stress is defined as having too much on your plate – too much work to do, too many obligations, and too many hours worked. Burnout is the opposite of that. You feel not having enough motivation to do things, or enough energy and care to do them. Most of the time burnout is related to work and does not affect everyday life. Depression, on the other hand, affects every part of your life and leaves you feeling hopeless, useless, and powerless.

People that have a high chance of getting burned out usually have low self-esteem, unrealistic expectations, and are uncomfortable dealing with challenges. Also, heavy workloads, having too little workforce, conflicts in the workplace and not feeling rewarded when doing your work well, can cause burnout. According to WHO (world health organization), stress caused by work costs globally a billion dollars in lost productivity.

 

5 burnout stages

 

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, your thoughts, feelings, and actions progress in stages. The early phase may not seem like a lot, but it might gradually build to a habitual phase that makes it difficult to do your job obligations.

Firstly, comes the honeymoon phase. In this stage, you are optimistic and energized. When starting a new project or taking on a new task you feel satisfaction that leads to moments of productivity and creativity.

The second phase is called the stress phase. The dust of the honeymoon phase settles down and you begin to experience stress. Stress is not covering the full day, but you start to feel it more often than usual. The loss of focus and productivity makes completing tasks more difficult. Physical signs of fatigue start to come up and affect free time activities and sleeping.

When the stress becomes tougher and prolonged it is called the chronic stress phase. There are signs in this phase like being apathetic and procrastinating work. You don’t feel like taking part in work-related conversations. Being angrier in general is also a sign of this stage. Stress sometimes follows you home affecting on personal life.

Now we get into the burnout stage where you can no longer function in the way you used to. Problems at work become obsessive and the feeling of doubt in yourself rises. Physical symptoms become an everyday norm. Stomach problems and headaches are very common. People in your close circle may also start to feel changes in behavior.

The habitual burnout phase. If burnout is left without treatment and it becomes your everyday burden, it can cause in the worst-case anxiety or depression. To not fall into this phase, it is important to detect a slowly developing burnout in the earlier stages.

 

How to detect a burnout?

 

Symptoms caused by burnout vary between the stages. The three symptoms to be aware of are exhaustion, apathy, and decreased satisfaction with oneself. These symptoms can be categorized into three subcategories which are physical, emotional, and behavioral. Symptoms like tiredness, difficulty sleeping, change of appetite, and headaches /muscle pain are all physical. Emotional symptoms include dissatisfaction with yourself, lack of motivation, and self-doubt. Behavioral symptoms cover social isolation, underperforming, and anger outbursts.

Introspection is important to avoid burnout. Recognizing the problem yourself is the biggest step towards a life without burnout. If symptoms are creeping in, you must be ready to battle against them. Talking with people about your struggles is another step to make to prevent or recover from burnout. If you don’t tell anyone, how can they know? Prioritizing self-care and taking time for yourself is an effective way to relieve stress.

You don’t have to prove to anyone but yourself the capabilities you have. Knowing your limitations and not saying “yes” to everything is important. By saying yes to everything you end up drowning in the number of tasks you have to do. The best way to prevent this problem from happening is by learning to say “no”.

Having a strict working habit and getting to know your limitations. Flexibility is very common in many modern jobs which makes workers do bad decisions regarding their health. Since the pandemic working from home has grown. Working from home can be quite flexible, that’s why you need to know when to set limits for working. Doing exceptions and answering emails at night may seem like nothing but it can lead to bad habits.

The idea to write an essay about burnout came from a paja I hosted. My interest in psychology led me to write about the topic. To avoid burnout, it is important to know what it consists of. With burnout being on the rise in recent years, it´s high time to start talking about it. We are more conscious nowadays of what burnout is and what should we do to prevent it from happening. Even though we talk about burnout in developing countries it doesn’t mean the whole world knows about this phenomenon. In developing countries, there is no time for talks regarding burnout as continuous physical work prevents it from being a topic of conversation. If you stop and think about your problems, life runs away. We have the privilege to talk about mental health here in Finland and that should be a thing to be proud of.

 

 

Sources:

 

Academic Work, Burnout – todellinen ongelma nuorten ammattilaisten keskuudessa, read 3.5.2023:

https://www.academicwork.fi/blogi/rework/burnout-on-ongelma-nuorten-ammattilaisten-keskuudessa

 

Integris Health, What are the 5 stages of burnout?, 2021:

https://integrisok.com/resources/on-your-health/2021/november/what-are-the-5-stages-of-burnout

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