The term ‘burnout’ was coined in 1974 and has since been described as a condition ‘induced by chronic stress that is characterised by emotional or physical exhaustion, cynicism and a lack of professional efficacy’.
According to psychologist Christina Maslach, burnout results from a significant mismatch between our beliefs and factors in our lives such as workload, sense of control and reward (or lack of), and fairness. One factor on its own might not be a problem, but a combination of too much work and a boss who treats you unfairly might cause burnout.
Burnout is a silent condition that creeps up on us slowly. Here are some tips on how to identify the warning signs and prevent burnout before it takes hold.
- Recognise it – Do you dread the thought of going into work? Are you passionate and motivated about things or is everything just a burden? Are you irritable with co-workers? Are you engaged in your work and do you take pride in your achievements? If not, you are probably suffering from burnout.
- Assess the situation and try to resolve it – do this by asking yourself what your passions are and whether you are pursuing these, why you do what you do, what you would change and what actions you need to take to change your situation for the better.
- Make time for yourself – this might involve going for a walk, reading your favourite book or taking an hour to just do nothing. These things may help to prevent burnout.
- Ask for help – talking about your feelings with someone you trust can help.
- Check yourself – be sensitive to your feelings/needs throughout the day and respond to these. For example, if you work better in the morning try to organise your schedule around this.