Every person on this planet feels stressed time and again, there’s no arguing with that. Sometimes it is essential for our survival, but sometimes the life stressors can become overpowering and difficult to deal with.
So, let me ask you some questions:
- Do you sometimes get so tired that you can’t even move a muscle?
- Do you find yourself working for an unimaginable number of hours overlooking your personal life and needs?
- Do you find your work, tasks and life to be monotonous and unfulfilling?
- Do you often feel un-appreciated or under-appreciated?
- Does waking up seem extremely difficult and stressful?
- Do you find yourself constantly questioning everything in your life?
If yes, then there is a possibility that you might be experiencing symptoms of Burnout.
Effects of burnout
Burnout effects are scattered through every aspect of our life.
Affecting work life- Our ability to perform job tasks reduces, rapidly. We often find ways to avoid doing work, or engaging with colleagues. We tend to snap out easily at work, resulting in poor relationships with others. Which further influences our performance negatively.
Affecting personal life/ lifestyle- we often get into meaningless disputes. Hence, lack of meaningful relationships, lack of support system and reduced social skills. We even turn a blind eye to our personal needs. Our lifestyle gets negatively influenced like increased use of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, food or even binge watching.
Affecting mental and emotional state- our mental and emotional state gets severely disturbed. We start following a pattern of self blaming. We get stuck in a vicious cycle of low mood, idleness and frequent mood swings. If not treated timely, suicidal ideation surges.
- 41% of Indians feel a disconnection between their work and personal life negatively impacts their wellbeing and induced stress levels 
- A Deloitte report shows that 48% of employed Indian women feel burnt out, Which has deeply affected their mental health and has drained their general enthusiasm and optimism 
- Seven out of ten (69%) Indian women working in a hybrid set-up reported encountering some form of microaggression at work 
- Over 80% of Indian medical students are experiencing Burnout today, found out in a large scale survey 
- A recent study shows that 29% of employees are dealing with corporate burnout. Nearly one-third of employees in India have experienced symptoms of burnout 
- India is the second largest country to face employee burnout with 29%  where Maharashtra reported the highest work-related stress and burnout, 83.86% among older adults aged 60 and above, followed by Tamil Nadu (44.29), Orissa (52.42%), West Bengal (60%) and Punjab (32.42). Whereas Himachal Pradesh showed the lowest (28.59%) work related stress/burnout 
What is burnout?
Burnout is not just physical tiredness, it is a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion which is followed by a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of individual self. The psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term “burnout” into the research lexicon in 1974, defining it as the loss of motivation, growing sense of emotional depletion, and cynicism.
Currently, it appears in ICD 11 (international classification of diseases, 11th edition) as an ‘Occupational Phenomenon’, problems associated with Employment and Unemployment. Though, it hasn’t been classified as a medical condition. Job is a stressful event, there’s no questioning that, but even so, there can be many reasons why burnout happens and all of them have one thing in common and i.e. excessive and prolonged stress.
Types of burnout, Recognizing it & How to Deal with it
Overload or Frenetic Burnout
Overload burnout occurs when you continue to work at an unsustainable pace, clocking long hours without taking any mental or physical breaks. It is linked to exhaustion. Since you are driven by the ambition to work excessively harder to achieve desired goals, you tend to ignore your personal needs and day to day requirements like taking proper meals, having healthy sleep hygiene, or taking out time for self care and basic hygiene.
If you face overload burnout then working on Emotional Regularity, Psychological Flexibility can be helpful. You may also find Acceptance and Commitment Therapy beneficial. Research finds that certain personality types, Type – A, high achiever, are more prone to experience frenetic burnout.
Social media is equally responsible for having all of us overwork to the point of exhaustion. The toxic hustle culture and glamorization of overwork, promote an unhealthy mindset ‘be productive no matter what’, ‘if they can do it, what is your excuse?’… but such perspectives do more damage than good. Hence, you may feel extremely bad for even taking breaks, having a lazy day and what not!
How to deal with it? Let’s start with;
- Appreciating yourself
- Understanding your own capabilities and biases (negative self talk)
- Listening to the needs of your body and mind
- Reaching out to seek help from friends, family members, partners or/and mental health professionals
Boreout or under-challenged burnout
“Boreout is chronic boredom. That sums it up,” says Lotta Harju, an assistant professor of organizational behavior. Whereas, Harju says the fundamental experience of boreout is meaninglessness – “the experience that the work doesn’t really have any purpose, that there’s no point”.
The main cause includes lack of opportunities to grow, professionally and personally. And sometimes a lack of structure in life. The typical coping strategies which are used to handle boreout are Cognitive Avoidance, Venting of emotions and Disengagement (which are often unhealthy and damaging). Boreout rarely make you collapse out of exhaustion. Here, you may appear lazy, uninterested or low, unlike the individuals with overload burnout.
Although, feeling boredom at work, or in life, occasionally, is actually pretty normal and extremely common. Experiencing it for a prolonged period of time can turn out to be detrimental to your emotional, mental and physical health. Which indicates that there are some concerns that require addressing.
How to deal with it?
- Set goals and divide them into small ones, like a sub set of goals. It will allow you to explore new opportunities without overwhelming yourself
- Take up a new hobby or join a class to learn something new, something which is not related to your current job or day to day tasks. Do it for fun and yourself. It will bring life, hope and newness to your existing routine
- Create a list of what excites you and what doesn’t in your current life circumstances. Brainstorm and decide how you can inculcate more of what excites you
- Have an understanding of what about the current job you like and dislike. Allow yourself to explore more options and then give your job and life a new meaningful direction
Also known as Worn-out burnout, It usually develops when you start to feel incompetent at work and/or in life. You find yourself unable to fulfill the demands of the work/life which develops the feeling of hopelessness. You also typically feel that your efforts are disrespected, unacknowledged. You feel helpless and that there is no one to support you or your decisions. You usually appear passive, unmotivated and with a sense of Depersonalization (losing value in oneself, and others).
When there is no or ill defined structure, guidance or direction given to perform a task Neglect burnout arises. Eventually, this ill-defined structure becomes a hindrance to keep up with the demands and meet the expectations. The main coping strategy that is used here is Disengagement. Common therapeutic approaches to be used here are: Behavioral Activation and Elimination of Negative Perception of self and life.
How to deal with it?
- Try to regain a sense of agency over your tasks and how the day goes, it is okay if things do not go as planned initially. The main motive here is to have some sort of control over your own decisions
- Learn to set healthy boundaries and start saying ‘NO’ to the things that bring overwhelming feelings. It will help you identify the intense and triggering situations, once you know the triggering points, you will be able to navigate through it easily
- Start taking initiative, communicating with people regarding their expectations and demands. Take an active role in the decision making process. Communicate your needs and limits to others. This will turnout to be lucrative in future assignments as well
Signs and Symptoms of burnout
Our body, mind and behavior give out many signals for us to discern that something needs immediate attention. Following signs and symptoms can help you notice burnout at an early stage after that you can work on prevention.
Physical signs and symptoms
- Changes in appetite and sleep cycle
- Frequent headaches and bodyache
- Fatigue/ Exhaustion
- Gastrointestinal issues
- High blood pressure
- Lowered Immunity
- Symptoms of Anxiety
Emotional signs and symptoms
- Sense of failure and self doubt ‘not good enough’
- Decreased satisfaction
- Low self compassion and self esteem
- Feeling unacknowledged, neglected
- Helplessness and hopelessness
- Heightened emotions or no display of emotions at all
Behavioral signs and symptoms
- Reduced performance in day to day tasks
- Substance abuse to cope (alcohol, nicotine, drugs or food)
- Overly engaged in job tasks or reduced engagement
- Taking out frustration or others
The ‘three R’ approach can help you deal with Burnout
- Learn to recognize the warning signs of burnout, at first you might not be able to do so (and that is perfectly alright!). Building consciousness is a skill. So, take your time, recall the day and then start jotting down what you have observed regarding burnout
- Start noticing and build awareness of how burnout is manifesting in your body and mind, and how it is affecting your life
- Then, with time and practice, you will be able to recognize the symptoms in the moment. This is where you get the opportunity to change things.
Reverse- Now it is time to change things, and take action
- Understand the triggers. Take necessary actions before the stressful event happens and then work on reducing the damage. E.g. prepare yourself to subtly decline for the office party where you don’t want to go
- Seek help and support from your support circle or MHPs (Mental Health Professionals)
Resilience- “Building resilience isn’t about how quickly or easily your stress response is triggered – it’s about how long it takes you to calm down from it,” Dr Tang says.
- Build the techniques to cope with the burnout in three ways…while it is happening, before it has happened and after it has happened
- Some recommended coping strategies are breathing exercises, practicing mindfulness, and use of affirmations. It is like building a toolbox, so the next time something is about to happen you will have all the necessary tools to handle the situation effectively and more efficiently.
If you are someone who is experiencing symptoms of Burnout and nothing seems to be working out for you, our team of Mental Health Professionals at Miind My Miind are always here to guide you through your mental health journey.
Do contact us on 9888130005 (whatsapp / message), or drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article written by a mental health professional Mx. Kirti!
- India is the second-largest country to face employee burnouts with 29 per cent: Survey
- Indian women face high burnout: Report | Mint
- Wellbeing and burnout in medical students in India; a large scale survey.
- Mental Health: Corporate Burnout: A Loss That India Inc. Simply Cannot Afford – Forbes India Blogs
- India is the second-largest country to face employee burnouts with 29 per cent
- Survey Work stress, health and wellbeing: evidence from the older adults labor market in India | Humanities and Social Sciences Communications