The World Health Organisation (WHO) has spoken and ‘burn-out’ is now a classified disease. Admittedly it ‘refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context’, so if you’re retired then you can rest easy according to WHO. If you’re not, then symptoms include:
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.
Despite the persistent use of the term in recent years, ‘burn-out’ was actually coined back in the Seventies by a German psychologist. However with the help of the Millennial generation, ‘burn-out’ has been thrown back into the forefront. Earlier this year a BuzzFeed article that tried to explain why Millennial’s are the burn-out generation was met with applause from the online forum, Reddit.
The line: ‘Life has always been hard, but many Millennials are unequipped to deal with the particular ways in which it’s become hard for us’ is bound to irritate those who aren’t in the Millennial bracket and indeed those who are and don’t have an innate fear of life admin or feel overwhelmed by the continuous flow of news and social media at their fingertips.
But, the author makes some valid points, including the need to be constantly working and busy that has become ingrained in most of us – because let’s face it, if you’re not busy then you’re clearly not working hard enough. She also outlines several of the issues many Millennials (the youngest of whom are now 22 years old) face, including enormous student debt, an out-of-reach property ladder and the precarious job market. If you haven’t read it, you can do so, here.
Of course, it’s not just Millennials that are suffering with ‘burn-out’. Our lifestyles and working cultures have changed dramatically over the past decade. Emails and smartphones have made way for a rise in remote working, or flexi-time. In some ways this has exacerbated the pressures on workers as there’s still a culture that if employees aren’t in the office are they actually working? Then there’s the need to be ‘busy’ to prove that you are working hard enough and are a valid member of staff.
So, how do you break this cycle and avoid burn-out? Well, there are the obvious tricks and implementing just one might help.
Exercise: Whether that means pounding the treadmill at 7am to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead or opting to cycle home – it’s near impossible to fixate on office dramas when you’re navigating traffic on two wheels. It sounds basic, but swimming is a good option for those who struggle to part with their phones for more than 15 minutes and yoga is ideal if you spend all day at a desk. Whatever sport you decide, plenty of studies have proven that exercising helps to boost your physical health and mental outlook.
Meditation: It’s by no means for everyone, but switching your brain off completely and concentrating on nothing but Andy Puddicombe’s voice on the Headspace app could help refocus you. (If you don’t believe me, Jo Fairley has written about her experience, here).
Sleep: It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep is imperative for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Making sure you regularly get at least seven hours sleep will help you to deal with issues rationally and pragmatically without feeling overwhelmed. If you find it impossible to stop your mind from whirling before bed, try Sleep Easy by Blooming Blends or pop two Sleep Tight supplements by World Organic about an hour before you hit the hay.
There is the growing philosophy of ‘work smarter, not harder’ to consider too. Changing your approach to work by truly valuing your time, delegating more and focusing on one task at a time rather than letting your attention flit between several are just some of the tips the Forbes council recommend. There is also the most obvious solution that few would consider: change your job.
While WHO has outlined the cause of ‘burn-out’ and provided the possible symptoms, when it comes to finding a solution it might be a case of cobbling several tricks above together and changing your outlook. Either way, ‘burn-out’ is a disease and it’s unlikely that a straightforward cure is a long way off.