“You need to run as fast as you can just to stay in place, but to get somewhere, you need to run at least twice as fast.” That’s according to Lewis Carroll in his book "Alice Through the Looking Glass," which remains just as relevant as ever in the 21st century.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has limited physical travel around the world, the pace of life continues to pick up steam. Uncertainty over the past year has continually encouraged people to work harder and seek out-of-the-box solutions to manage their new circumstances. The partial or complete transition to remote work has done much to erase the line between professional and private life.
The term "burnout syndrome" was coined by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974. In theory, burnout stems from a certain kind working conditions or organizational structure. The scientist recommended coping with the situation both on a personal and organizational level. For example, by reducing working hours or supporting and training employees.
According to a survey by consultancy Deloitte, in 2020 70% of respondents said they had experienced burnout at work. 50% of those surveyed reported that they had experienced it several times. Determinants of burnout, according to an anonymous survey conducted by the Blind app, include overwork, a blurred line between work and home, lack of free time, and the need to stay connected.
According to the World Health Organization classification of diseases, burnout is a chronic stress syndrome, originating in the workplace, that a person cannot cope with. The WHO defines three characteristics of the syndrome:
- Constant fatigue and exhaustion.
- Feelings of detachment from work or negative emotions that arise when thinking about work.
- Poor self-worth regarding professional achievements, a sense of incompetence, and a decrease in labor productivity.
Biochemically speaking, dopamine makes work feel pleasurable. In a healthy state, each completed task is accompanied by the release of this hormone. In a situation of emotional burnout, the natural mechanism stops working: the number of tasks grows, but the satisfaction from completing them does not follow.
"A disease is easier to prevent than to cure." In line with Hippocrates’ observation, Karina Budinskaya, Director of the AsstrA Training and Development Center, has prepared the following set of recommendations to help prevent the development of burnout syndrome.
- Analyze current projects and measure them against available resources. Discard new projects if the workload is already over capacity. It is important to control your own workload and keep track of what to add to the to-do list and what not to. Will you really be able to do that thing yourself? Maybe it's time to delegate. Pay attention to whether you agree spontaneously to new work. Perhaps you take on new tasks because you are afraid to refuse.
- Regularly analyze the projects you have started. For example, once a week, month or quarter. Determine what you managed to do, with whom you communicated, and most importantly what milestones you have achieved so far. This analysis will help you understand where you are in the project tracking system.
- Plan and think over not only what you will during working hours but also during your personal time. Schedule time in your calendar to watch a movie, meet with friends, or exercise. When you checking your calendar, you will see something pleasant and not related to work coming up in the near future.
- Remember the basics of nutrition and sleep. A balanced diet will help your body get the nutrients it needs to function smoothly. To recuperate it is advisable to fall asleep before 23.00 and sleep for 7-9 hours in a dark, well ventilated room.
- Get some exercise, for example by walking, running, cycling, roller skating, or doing yoga. Choose an activity that suits your daily routine and your personal athletic rhythm. Practice breathing exercises and meditate. Mindful breathing will help develop focus and presence in the moment.
You have many kinds of tools to maintain a positive attitude and resource state. They will help you avoid burnout and maintain a work-life balance. Be sure to have plenty of events in the self-care category marked in your calendar!