EAP Corner

Recognizing and Preventing Burnout

Working from home and dealing with quarantines has created a lot of extra stress for many people. We all have stress and it is a normal part of life. Some days we are feeling more overloaded than others, but if the stress is not managed, it can turn into illnesses and burnout. If you begin to feel helpless and mentally exhausted, you could be headed for burnout. According to the World Health Organization, burnout results from, “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

Certain personality traits and lifestyles, along with not being able to socially interact because of quarantines, can also contribute to burnout. As leaders you may be dealing with your own emotions as well as helping your team cope.

Helping yourself first by eating right, exercising, relaxing and getting enough sleep are things we can do to keep stress from making us ill. You can work on balance in your life by spending time with friends and family (using social distancing), finding a new hobby, volunteering for a cause and focusing on positives such as things you like best about your job or things you are grateful for.

As a leader, it is important to be proactive with ways to help prevent burnout and stay in communication with those who are working from home to determine if there are signs of burn out. Make sure you are giving positive feedback and listening to their ideas and needs. Smaller Zoom meetings can make everyone feel they are still connected and heard. Help employees develop a more positive attitude about work by pointing out progress, acknowledging the work they are doing by showing gratitude. Some of the job demands can be a lot to handle when you have children at home and supervise home schooling, so prioritizing what needs to be done and what can wait will help take some pressure off. If you are seeing signs of burn out, it might be good to suggest they take some time off to take care of their needs. With the predictions of the pandemic lasting through the winter, it will be important to find inventive ways to remain proactive in preventing burnout.

The WHO further notes that burnout is characterized by three dimensions:
1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
2. Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
3. Reduced professional efficacy
(Preston, 2020).

Some causes of work related burnout are
1. Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
2. Lack of recognition or reward for good work
3. Unclear or overly demanding job expectations
4. Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging
5. Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment (Smith, M., Segal, J.,Robinson, L. 2019, October)

Works Cited
Preston, C. (2020, August 14). Burnout is real, on the rise, and retractable. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-health-inthe-workplace/202008/burnout-is-real-the-rise-and-retractable?MvBriefArticle Id=32987

Smith, M., Segal, J., Robinson, L. (2019, October). Burnout prevention and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnoutprevention-and-recovery.htm

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