Burnout can mean many things – the word itself seems to carry many meanings, two of which seem to go hand in hand. To burn yourself out can mean you dim your light so others can shine, or perhaps even that your light is dimmed because you don’t believe in your competences. The other side of that is that you strive so hard to maintain a strong career, worklife, or simply to feed your addiction to working.
WebMd, amongst other medical sites which people usually look to to corroborate that their pimples are the symptom of a brain haemorrhage (not true), says that Burnout Syndrome is now becoming an actual, and relevant, stress phenomenon. We can apparently prevent it by rethinking and remodelling our whole existence – but we all know that can’t work without political effect.
General practitioner Adam Staten writes for the London Emergency Medicine Blog that doctors, who have one of the longest and toughest careers in the world, are very prone to this syndrome, defining it as ‘a result of prolonged periods of unsustainable stress and it is characterised by three key features; mental and physical exhaustion, a low sense of personal accomplishment, and a sense of depersonalisation’. It is in no doubt, according to Psychology Today and WebMD, that people in high pressure, or what some would call high power, positions are the most affected by stress burnouts.
According to WebMD’s quiz, which you can take to test your knowledge of how stress is affecting you, working 60+ hours per week can increase the risks of cardiovascular disease, and more, especially in women. Most interestingly, they claim that workaholics are addicts, suggesting a growing dependency on this resource.
If you have ever heard the presentations of Russell Brand, or read his books on recovery from addictions, you will know that he discusses precisely how any habit or perceived societally created need is addiction. This world creates necessity to work, out of the necessity to earn money, in order to have a good life, a good image, and sustain a family, or just do the things you want to do. So how is it that we are not turning to politicians to demand that they change our education and work systems? They create the need for us, media creates the need for us, and we create it for ourselves, yet we are the only ones being blamed for burnout.
First and foremost, we can do some things on the personal responsibility level, but ultimately we need the top men and women to make the changes to society. There is a need for them to see that we are being hurt by this system, and that it is not only the fault of genetic predisposition for mental disorders, nor the personal lifestyle choices which make us mentally or physically ill, it is on a much larger plan, where a regulation of legislations is needed.
The question is, do you have an addiction to working, or is your job burning you out? You can take the quiz which stimulated my interest in the topic here and learn a bit about how little it takes to overwork yourself, yet how harmful it is long-term – so try to do what you can to prevent a burnout by engaging with this information, and ultimately support your physical as well as your mental well being.