Burnout in the Digital Era: How to Face It and Recover
In one of my previous jobs, I experienced something that deeply impacted me. I worked 10 hours a day, was available on weekends, answered calls without prior notice, and fulfilled the responsibilities of three different roles. Despite my relentless dedication, it was never enough for my superiors. This experience leads me to reflect on a critical issue in the workplace: Burnout.
Burnout is an emotional disorder associated with work that represents a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. In essence, it makes us feel “burned out” by our job.
We live in an era of rapid digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic, with remote work, reduced social life, and challenging economic situations. Companies continue to operate, the tech sector is growing, and work demands are ever-increasing. WhatsApp keeps us available all the time, except when we sleep. However, Burnout is not a phenomenon exclusive to the pandemic; it already existed; we’ve just given it a name now.
Understanding Burnout and its impact
This syndrome has severe consequences for self-esteem and gradually affects our interest in our tasks. The WHO declared it a workplace risk factor due to its impact on the quality of life and mental health of those who suffer from it.
Burnout results from excessive personal demands, effort overload, and chronic stress. It has been included in the list of diseases in 2022, and if not treated in time, it can trigger deep depressions.
Among the causes are high levels of stress, work-life imbalance, excessive workload, limited autonomy, unclear job expectations, toxic work relationships, and lack of support and encouragement. Consequences include excessive stress, fatigue, sleep problems, sadness, cardiovascular diseases, among others.
But what can we do about it? Prevention is the best weapon. Companies should provide a safe environment for employees to openly discuss their problems from the beginning. Additionally, psychological treatment, rest, and healthy habits are essential for recovery.
Sometimes, the problem does not lie in work demands but in our inability to say “no” and set boundaries. It’s essential to learn to communicate assertively, openly discuss mental health, and seek help when needed.
The equation is simple: if we’re not well, we can’t work effectively. As workers, leaders, and human beings, we must build healthy work environments and care for each other.
Overcoming Burnout with support and strategies
In this section, I have compiled a comprehensive list of resources to help you navigate the complexities of burnout. These resources are designed to empower you on your journey to recovery, offering tools to reduce stress, regain balance, and find renewed inspiration.
- “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
- “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.” by Brené Brown
- “The Joy of Burnout: How the End of the World Can Be a New Beginning” by Dr. Dina Glouberman
- “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brené Brown
- Headspace: Provides guided meditation and mindfulness exercises to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Calm: Offers sleep stories, meditation, and relaxation techniques to promote mental well-being.
- Insight Timer: Features a vast library of free guided meditations and talks from mindfulness experts.
- Breethe: Includes mindfulness exercises, sleep stories, and personalized meditation programs.
- TED Talks: Watch an array of talks on stress, mental health, and strategies for dealing with burnout.
- The School of Life: Find insightful videos on emotional well-being and self-improvement.
- Psych2Go: Offers educational content on psychology, mental health, and self-care.
Activities and Self-Care:
- Yoga and Meditation: Consider participating in local or online classes for yoga and meditation, known for their relaxation and stress reduction benefits.
- Nature Walks: Spend time in nature to unwind and recharge your spirit.
- Journaling: Keep a journal to express your thoughts and emotions, a therapeutic practice for reflection.
- Art and Creativity: Engage in creative hobbies like painting, writing, or crafting to de-stress and rejuvenate.
- Support Groups: Connect with local or online support groups where individuals share their experiences and offer mutual support.
- Therapists and Counselors: Seek help from licensed mental health professionals if needed.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): In a workplace context, explore EAPs, often providing counseling and support services.
Remember, addressing burnout is a journey, and you have a wide range of resources to navigate it towards a successful recovery.
Burnout is a wake-up call that reminds us of the importance of caring for our mental health in today’s frenzied work world. While it’s crucial to prevent it and seek treatment when necessary, we must also look beyond the causes and symptoms. Often, overwork and the lack of boundaries stem from the pressure we put on ourselves. In our pursuit of excellence, we sometimes forget that we are more than our job titles; we are friends, family members, and human beings with emotional and physical needs.
Facing Burnout is an opportunity for personal and professional growth. If you’ve experienced or are experiencing this situation, seek help and share your experiences. Your story can be the inspiration someone needs to seek support and care for their mental health. Remember, we are more than our jobs; we are complete beings that deserve a balanced and healthy life.