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Work-related Stress and Burnout: How to Take Care of Your Mental Health on the Job

Work-related stress can lead to burnout if not well-managed.

Zoom apathy, slack messages, office politics, work load, incessant phone calls, back-to-back meeting, working towards deadline can all contribute to work-related stress.

Stress and overload in the workplace are increasing worldwide, often considered a cause of burnout. But a new study questions that assumption. In 1974, Herbert Freudenberger coined the term burnout. In 2019, The World Health Organization (WHO) reached a milestone, officially classifying it as a medical diagnosis, including the condition in the International Classification of Diseases, the handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases.

What is work-related stress?

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope. Stress occurs in a wide range of work circumstances but is often made worse when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and colleagues, as well as little control over work processes. There is often confusion between pressure or challenge and stress, and sometimes this is used to excuse bad management practice.

What is burnout?

According to World Health Organisation, Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
reduced professional efficacy.
Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.

What does data show?

More than 60% of work absenteeism is attributed to psychological stress and stress-related burnout. And according to a 2018 survey, 40% of the 2,000 employees said they were considering quitting because of burnout. Experts estimate that burnout translates into a loss of anywhere from $150 to $350 billion annually for U.S. businesses alone. That’s a chilling statistic for any manager, especially in a tight labor market, if your employees can’t put their best foot forward and out of desperation cut corners, call in sick or quit—all in an effort to survive burnout.

What is the difference between stress and burn out?

According to Bryan Robinson, Phd, burnout is officially a chronic workplace crisis, hence, companies need to take the condition more seriously. It helps to understand that burnout isn’t the same as stress, and you can’t cure it by taking an extended vacation, slowing down or working fewer hours.

Stress is one thing; burnout is a totally different state of mind. Under stress, you still struggle to cope with pressures. But once burnout takes hold, you’re out of gas and you’ve given up all hope of surmounting your obstacles. When you’re suffering from burnout, it’s more than just fatigue. You have a deep sense of disillusionment and hopelessness that your efforts have been in vain. Life loses its meaning, and small tasks feel like a hike up Mount Everest. Your interests and motivation dry up, and you fail to meet even the smallest obligations.

What are the signs of stress?

Here’s a look at some of the subtler signs of stress:

  • low energy or fatigue
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • changes in appetite
  • digestive issues
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • low self-esteem
  • loss of sex drive
  • frequent illnesses

What are the signs of burnout?

Here’s a look at some of the signs of burnout:

  • Disillusionment/loss of meaning
  • Mental and physical fatigue and exhaustion
  • Moodiness, impatience and short tempered
  • Loss of motivation and reduced interest in commitments
  • Inability to meet obligations
  • Lowered immunity to illness
  • Emotional detachment from previous involvements
  • Feeling efforts are unappreciated
  • Withdrawal from coworkers and social situations
  • Hopeless, helpless and depressed outlook
  • Job absenteeism and inefficiency
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Foggy thinking and trouble concentrating

How can you manage work related stress so that it will lead to burnout?

Below are 7 Tips you can use to prevent burnout at workplace

A. Improve your time management skills: Sometimes, feeling overwhelmed by work comes down to how organized you are. Try setting up a priority list at the beginning of your work week by preparing tasks and ranking them according to importance.

B. Have a strong support system:
Keep in touch with trusted friends and family members to help cope with stressful work situations.

C. Do daily relaxation techniques:
Purposefully slowing down and being conscious of your surroundings can keep you relaxed throughout the week. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness all work to calm your anxiety

D. Strive for work-life balance:
Being available around the clock will easily burn you out. It’s important to create clear boundaries between your work and home life to help you avoid potential stress.

E. Recharge your battery daily:
Taking even a few minutes of personal time during a busy day can help prevent burnout. Listening to an interesting podcast in between meetings or watching a funny Youtube video can give you relaxing pauses throughout the day.

F. Stay out of the office trouble: Workplace conflict can take a major toll on your emotional well-being. Try to avoid participating in gossipy situations. If you know that one of your colleagues is especially prone to gossip, find a way to spend less time with them or steer the conversation to safer topics. Avoid office drama. Just do your work and be kind to your co-workers.

G. Take good care of yourself: Setting aside time for self-care is a must if you regularly find yourself feeling overwhelmed by work. This means prioritizing sleep, setting aside time for fun, and making sure you’re eating throughout the day.

The above tips will help you to experience a healthy and productive 2022, it is now in your hands to use these tips on a daily basis.

HubCare Health work with organizations to improve staff physical and mental wellbeing through our health talk, health screening, virtual mental health support and holistic healthcare program.

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To your good health!

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Sesan Kareem 

Sesan Kareem is a certified trainer and author. His mission is to use his clinical and leadership skills to democratize healthcare for all Africans



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