This is not an invented disease, not an ordinary overwork, but a real affliction of the 21st century and a real medical diagnosis according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the World Health Organization’s reference book.
Burnout – a diagnosis.
THE MAIN SYMPTOMPS OF EMOTIONAL BURNOUT
Some of the main symptoms of burnout include:
- A sense of exhaustion and desolation;
- increased mental distance from work, a sense of negativism or cynicism;
- physical ailments, panic attacks, dizziness, constant fatigue;
- increased irritability and pessimism;
- Narrowing of social circles and reticence;
- loss of productivity;
- conservatism and fear of innovation;
- decrease of professional efficiency.
If your income is related to the Internet, then you are very familiar with many of the symptoms. And it doesn’t matter if you make money translating texts or writing them, providing SEO services, or traffic arbitrage in CPA networks.
The first studies of burnout were published in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger. After that, this topic was closely studied for four decades, and as a result, it was diagnosed in the ICD.
In many ways, burnout harms not only the employees themselves, but also the company in which they work. The first and most obvious problem is loss of productivity. For this reason businesses only in the UK lose £77 million annually.
And it is not surprising, because a burnout-prone employee is many times slower to cope with his/her tasks and can cause a number of major problems due to careless mistakes, and simply undermines the spirit of the team with his/her mood.
It would seem that why should care about the condition of the subordinates be the responsibility of the company? After all, it is much easier to hire someone less “problematic” than to spend time and resources on prevention and helping employees who need it. As practice shows, not at all.
Unfortunately, there is no sufficiently accurate way to measure the cost of staff turnover, but according to PwC estimates the replacement of one employee costs the company an average of 20-33% of his annual salary. It is much more advantageous to take care of the moral and mental state of your subordinates in advance by creating comfortable working conditions for them.
This approach has long been adopted by the world’s largest companies. For example, Microsoft launches Perks Plus program, thanks to which each employee will receive 1200 ＄ a year. This amount is intended exclusively for the purchase of goods and services that will preserve and improve the physical, mental and financial condition of the employee.
WHY PEOPLE BURN OUT AT WORK
There are many reasons for burnout. And it happens both in personal life and in professional activities. And today there is a pandemic on top of all the major problems of mankind, during which a large number of people find themselves locked up at home alone with their household, family and work.
Occupational burnout can have a variety of causes. The most common ones are invariable:
- Irregular working hours;
- working nights and weekends;
- monotony of work and lack of opportunities for growth and development;
- aggressive competitive environment;
- toxic staff and environment;
- the presence of constant stress;
- lack of understanding of the goals and results of their work;
- low pay;
- Inability to work through or discharge accumulated negative emotions.
Many of us face something on this list every day. People are used to writing off their fatigue to simple laziness or overwork. But if the situation gets worse and the real symptoms are ignored, the problem takes root, which can cause serious damage to the body.
HOW TO COPE WITH BURNOUT AND ENJOY YOUR WORK
First of all, it is worth determining whether you are really experiencing burnout or just need a break. You can ask yourself, “Do you like your job, would you like to keep doing it?” If the answer is yes, you just need a break. But often it happens that you just do not know the answer, because the body gives out “tired, do not want anything,” and what lies behind this condition – it is difficult to understand.
To begin with, try to give yourself a break. Take a few days, if you can’t afford a vacation. Also, have a medical examination, perhaps the fatigue is a disorder of the hormonal background, eat well and sleep well.
If resting didn’t help at all, then there is a high probability that you are dealing with professional burnout and you need to deal with its causes. Maybe you don’t need to radically change your job or profession, it is enough to make local changes in your life.
BALANCE YOUR LIFE
Analyze what your life is full of. This is conveniently done with a balance model. The idea is to look at how energy is distributed among the four areas of life: body, activities, contacts, and meaning.
- The body sphere includes: sleep, eating, health, sex, sports, hygiene, appearance, well-being, and feeling.
- To activities: study, work, achievement, housework, career, business, social status.
- To contacts: communication with acquaintances, friends, relatives, social interaction, family relationships.
- To meanings: plans, religion, fantasies, dreams, values, beliefs.
The division is arbitrary, everyone decides for themselves what to include in what sphere. For example, conversations with colleagues at work can fall both into the sphere of activity, if it is a work conversation, and into the sphere of contacts, if it is a friendly chat.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORT
Often professional burnout happens to people who have no one to share responsibility with. For example, a newcomer comes to the company and thinks that he has to get to everything on his own, not distracting more experienced colleagues with questions. Or a manager pulls everything on himself without consulting anyone.
Despite the difference in status and experience, it is useful for both of them to create a support group, to surround themselves with people with whom they can consult or ask for help. While for the newcomer this can be more experienced colleagues, for the manager these people can be his top managers, heads of other companies, or mentors. Well, no one has canceled the professional help of coaches and psychologists.
A SUPPORT GROUP IS IMPORTNANT TO EVERYONE
To build boundaries. Often the reason for burnout is that a person cannot allow himself to rest. It seems to him that everything would collapse without him, that he should always be in touch and should come to everyone’s aid at any moment.
This syndrome especially often affects responsible and anxious managers. It is clear that in such a way of life it is impossible to relax for a moment, which depletes any resource.
The solution is to accustom yourself to draw the line between yourself and work. Switch off working chats in the evening, explain to your colleagues that from now on there are times when you can not disturb them, delegate some tasks. Super-responsible people are afraid to do that, but once they decide, they are surprised to find that the world does not fall apart without their intervention (and sometimes it is a shame :-))
Sometimes just slowing down and taking on fewer tasks is enough. But how do you determine your comfortable pace?
Try to track for a month (speaking as an automation system that is used to counting every sneeze) what your time is spent on (we’re not talking about work tasks, but everything you do in general).
SMALL STEPS TO THE GOAL
The theory of small affairs is usually associated with the management of human resources at work or certain periods of our history. But lately this phrase has been used more and more often in the context of digital management. In this case, there is a practical and psychological side to it.
Judge for yourself: is it better to not finish a single task or not to finish a global one, but finish at least two or three small tickets? Or, on the contrary, is it better to catch up with the small stuff, without moving forward the highest priority in terms of time and importance, which can be broken down into several smaller tasks?
We think that if the deadlines are the same, the answer is obvious. For this is the subconscious mind of most of those for whom the result is more important than the process. Roughly speaking, the brain enjoys the pluses in the “Done” column and sends the appropriate signals to the rest of the body.
VACATION AND TRAVEL
Many doctors recommend regular vacations as a cure for several ailments at once and as a necessary background to get rid of all the others. There’s a reason for that, you’ll agree.
And then, it’s not for nothing that unions fought so fiercely for a shorter work week and more vacation time. Even when there wasn’t enough science, it was still clear that regular multi-day experiences were essential for both the working class and managers. Why?
An example is the liver. When even 70% of the liver is removed, it can recover a few percent in a few weeks. It’s the same with a person’s emotional capacity. With proper rest, the scale of life (Health Points – gamers will understand) is quite realistic to raise almost from zero to 90-100% in just a couple of weeks.
The main rule – do not take your problems with you. You either have to solve them before you rest, or put them under someone else’s control, or forget about them.
THE BEST APPLICATIONS TO AVOID EMOTIONAL BURNOUT
They will help you stay mentally fit, and some of them are free.
Try and enjoy them.
Stress & Anxiety Companion
Apple Store, Google Play
What you need it for. Stress & Anxiety Companion helps you identify anxiety triggers and transform negative thoughts into positive ones. The app is based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, techniques that can be used to combat anxiety in the short term.
How it works. The main feature of Stress & Anxiety Companion is the “Reframe” feature. It allows you to create a file cabinet of anxiety triggers and their antipodes – new, constructive thoughts. Also available in the app are distraction games, relaxation exercises, relaxing audio recordings, and an educational section with knowledge about CBT, physical and mental exercise, nutrition, and sleep.
How much time it takes. The app can be used for situational as well as more global tasks. For example, a muscle relaxation exercise will take 10 minutes, and working with “Reframe” will take as long as the user wants.
Features. When confronted with an unknown term, the user can click on it and get a detailed explanation within the app.
The app is free. Advanced functionality is available with a paid subscription.
Headspace: Meditation & Sleep.
Apple Store, Google Play
What it’s for. The app teaches meditation through interactive audio guides. Perfect for those who want to start meditating but don’t know how.
How it works. The meditations in Headspace are divided into themed courses and can include anywhere from 10 to 30 sessions. They are audio guides in English – all legible and understandable. There are also short sessions for resetting, sessions for meditations in motion, hands-on concentration exercises and 12 music stations.
How much time it takes. With short three-minute sessions, you can meditate even during a break at work. If you want to dive into meditation on a more serious level, you can choose half-hour or one-hour sessions.
Features. Headspace offers guided meditation sessions with a teacher via audio or video link.
Headspace: Meditation & Sleep is a meditation app.
An introductory course of 10 sessions for 10 minutes is free. Paid subscription about $3 per month.
Meditation & Breathing.
Apple Store, Google Play
What it’s for. Another meditation app in English. If Headspace seems too complicated for you, try this one.
How it works. The app has several sections: meditations, breathing, sleep, a meditation timer, and progress tracking. The meditations are customizable – you can choose the speaker’s voice, the background music, and the duration of the session. There are breathing exercises with animated instructions for beginners.
How much time it takes. From 5 minutes to 24 hours, the meditation time depends only on the user.
Features. Guided meditations, supervised by a virtual teacher.
The app is free.
Meditation & Breathing – free meditation app
Sayana: Daily Self-Care
What you need. Sayana is an artificial intelligence-based app that helps users monitor their mood changes and find connections between emotions and events.
How it works. Users interact with a character named Sayana – she offers to share thoughts and feelings, gives advice and teaches mindfulness. The app has a daily mood tracker in which events and reactions to them can be recorded.
How much time it takes. You can use the app for just a few minutes a day.
Features. There are thousands of people in the Sayana community with whom you can anonymously discuss a personal problem and get good advice and support.
Sayana: Daily Self-Care is an app based on artificial intelligence that helps users to watch their mood changes
Free trial lasts for 7 days. Subscription is from $4 per month.
Apple Store, Google Play
What you need it for. Happify helps you become happier. The app is based on positive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy.
How it works. The thematic blocks in Happify are called “tracks” and there are dozens of them – “self-confidence”, “fullness of consciousness”, “perception of mind and body” and others.
Choosing one or another “track”, the user is offered a game, a quiz or other action designed to fix or improve the emotional state. You can also set positive goals in Happify, describe moments for which you are grateful, receive research and character reports.
How much time it takes. A few minutes a day is enough.
Features. A rating system and gamification allows you to create and increase your own happiness index.
Happify is a free app that helps you become happier
The app is free, with an extended version available from $15.
What it’s for. The app helps develop emotional intelligence to better understand yourself and others.
How it works. EQ Coach is a set of 64 questions with symbolic illustrations. They help the user find answers and discover important insights on their own. Reflections can be recorded in notes within the app, text or voice.
How long it takes. Depends on your reflection skills and the desire to develop them.
Features. Each question, when tapped, reveals itself into a more in-depth note on the topic.
EQ Coach – an app for developing emotional intelligence
The free version has 24 questions open – the full version will cost $3.
Aura: Meditation & Sleep
Apple Store Google Play
What you need it for. Aura helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve concentration and sleep quality through daily meditations, mindfulness exercises, stories and music.
How it works. The app allows you to listen to personalized meditations, monitor mood swings, and get suggestions on how to improve your well-being. For example, Aura may suggest taking a mindful break or some breathing exercises.
How long it takes. Meditation times are set by the user, the shortest are three-minute sessions.
Features. Favorite meditations can be saved to listen without access to the Internet.
7 days trial period – free, full version by subscription – from $9 per month.