We have all been there; that moment of waking up on Monday morning and feeling like the weekend wasn’t long enough to recover from the fatigue of the past work week.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic saw reports of anxiety and depression jump by 25% worldwide. However, burnout is one of the biggest mental health issues that has cropped up during the lockdown and continues to be a significant problem.
Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling overwhelmed or overwhelmed. It results from prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress that can take a heavy toll on your mind and body.
One of the first signs of burnout can be feeling disengaged from your job or job, accompanied by irritability and unusual behavior. You might also have difficulty making decisions or setting priorities.
Then there’s the crippling physical exhaustion that no amount of sleep or rest seems to resolve. In fact, burnout can be a double-edged sword, as another common symptom includes sleep problems, which naturally exacerbates any feelings of mental and physical fatigue.
During the lockdown, working from home has accelerated an “always-on” work culture, where online presenteeism and expectations from managers for teams to do more work are rife. In countries like the UK, Canada and the US, employees report that the time they spend connected to their computer has increased by more than two hours a day since the pandemic, according to data from NordVPN teams. .
Unfortunately, the end of the confinement did not solve these problems. Workloads are still unreasonable, and the added pressure of the global economic crisis and impending recessions means people feel unable to release the accelerator, even when running on empty.
Who feels the burn?
Like all mental health conditions, burnout does not discriminate, although research suggests that certain groups may be at greater risk than others. For example, a Future Forum report covering more than 10,700 workers in six countries showed that women are more than a third (32%) more likely than men to suffer from burnout.
Conversely, the youngest in the labor force are also more likely to suffer from burnout. Those under 30 are 29% more likely to have symptoms than their older counterparts. When it comes to tenure in the workplace, middle managers are the most impacted and are at the highest risk of burnout (43%) than any other job level.
While burnout is undeniably a widespread and significant problem, it can often be difficult for those who experience it to find the help and support they need. Treatment for mental health issues like depression and anxiety — which can be a byproduct of burnout — too often takes the route of first-line medication.
Understanding stress and how you handle it is key to recovering from burnout. Medications can be beneficial when used in isolation, but they don’t address the root cause of burnout. Resilience varies from person to person, so understanding your threshold can help. Emerging testing methods can provide insight into our individual stress thresholds.
There also needs to be better recognition that the stress that contributes to burnout can be as much of a physical burden as it is a mental one, so effective treatment approaches need to address both.
An ever-growing evidence base, ranging from anecdotal accounts to independent, peer-reviewed studies, demonstrates the effectiveness of placing mindful practices like meditation and yoga at the heart of treatment pathways to address the underlying causes of mental health issues and burnout. Not only has this approach proven to be effective, but it also provides people with techniques that they can use on their own, anywhere, anytime.
If burnout is left untreated, it can become a major problem affecting all aspects of a person’s life. It can affect performance and productivity, as well as professional and personal relationships. There is also a strong link between stress and substance and alcohol abuse; without adequate treatment, individuals are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
In these times of economic instability, there is a clear collective advantage in fighting burnout. Besides the personal impacts on the person experiencing it, burnout comes at a greater cost. According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), mental health problems cost the UK economy at least £117.9 billion a year.
Of course, prevention is better than cure, and a big shift is needed in global work cultures and the unfair expectations placed on employees. However, revolutions do not happen overnight.
We are moving towards a better work-life culture that minimizes the risk of burnout at the source, but it will take time. What we can do now is change the way we support those who suffer from it to give them the best chance of recovery and provide them with the understanding and tools to manage stress as they move through their lives. .
Robert Common is the Group CEO of The Beekeeper House