At Foundation Psychology, we offer services to individual and organisation to help recover from burnout, and also protect from burnout before it occurs. Our Psychologists have backgrounds in emergency services and competitive corporate environments that are often associated with burnout.
Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork. It is characterized by feelings of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.
Emotional exhaustion refers to the feeling of being emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and unable to cope with the demands of work or personal life. People experiencing emotional exhaustion often feel depleted, depleted of energy, and unable to feel engaged or motivated. Depersonalization, on the other hand, is a feeling of detachment from oneself or others. It often manifests as a sense of cynicism, detachment, and a loss of empathy for others. This can lead to a sense of isolation and disconnection from one’s work, colleagues, or loved ones. Reduced personal accomplishment refers to a sense of inadequacy and a lack of confidence in one’s ability to perform well or make a meaningful contribution. People experiencing this aspect of burnout may feel like they are not making a difference in their work or personal life and may struggle to find meaning or purpose in what they do.
Burnout is a common experience that many people face in today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments. Burnout can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or profession. In Australia, workers in various industries reported an increase in burnout after the COVID-19 pandemic began. A survey conducted by the Australian HR Institute found that 51% of Australian workers reported feeling burnout in 2021, up from 44% in 2020. The pandemic led to job losses, economic uncertainty, and increased workloads for those who did still have jobs.
A study conducted in Australia found that healthcare workers had higher levels of burnout than workers in other industries. The study found that the COVID-19 pandemic had increased burnout levels among healthcare workers, with 47.5% of participants reporting high levels of emotional exhaustion, and 35.2% of participants reporting high levels of depersonalization. A study conducted by the Victorian Department of Education and Training found that teachers in Victoria were experiencing much higher levels of burnout following the COVID-19 pandemic and a study conducted in Australia in 2021 found that 25% of emergency services personnel were experiencing burnout.
Fortunately, there are psychological strategies that can help prevent and manage burnout. These strategies involve changing your thinking, behaviour, and lifestyle to help you manage stress more effectively and prevent burnout from taking hold. Here are some of the most effective psychological strategies for preventing and managing burnout:
- Set realistic goals and expectations: Many people experience burnout because they set unrealistic goals for themselves and then become overwhelmed when they cannot achieve them. To prevent burnout, set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and your work. Be honest with yourself about what you can realistically accomplish and focus on achieving those goals.
- Practice self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential for preventing burnout. Make time for activities that you enjoy, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress and prevent burnout.
- Develop a support system: Having a support system can be invaluable for preventing and managing burnout. Surround yourself with people who understand your work and can offer support and encouragement when you need it. You may also find it helpful to seek out a mentor or coach who can provide guidance and support.
- Manage your workload: One of the main causes of burnout is having too much work to do and feeling overwhelmed. To prevent burnout, it is essential to manage your workload effectively. Prioritise your tasks, delegate responsibilities when possible, and learn to say no to new tasks when you are already overloaded.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It can help you manage stress and prevent burnout by increasing your awareness of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques.
- Learn to manage stress: Stress is a major contributor to burnout. Learning to manage stress effectively can help prevent burnout from taking hold. You can manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, or by engaging in physical activity, such as running or yoga.
In addition to these psychological strategies, it is important for employers to implement policies and practices that can help prevent burnout. Flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and flexible hours, can help individuals manage their work-life balance and reduce stress levels. Workload management strategies, such as job rotation and workload sharing, can help individuals manage their workloads. Lastly employee support programs, such as counselling can provide individuals with the support they need to manage stress levels.
In conclusion, burnout is a common experience that many people face in today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments. Fortunately, there are psychological strategies that can help prevent and manage burnout. By setting realistic goals and expectations, practicing self-care, developing a support system, managing your workload, practicing mindfulness, and learning to manage stress, you can reduce your risk of burnout and maintain your emotional, physical, and mental well-being. If you are experiencing burnout, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support. With the right psychological strategies and support, you can overcome burnout and thrive in your personal and professional life.
Mental Health Continuum Model (Source: Canadian Armed Forces)