When people hear ‘burnout’ they often it assumes it means that you’re exhausted, but burnout is much more than just being busy or overwhelmed.
In 2019, The World Health Organisation reclassified burnout to be formally recognised as a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress, which isn’t successfully managed. Whilst it isn’t classified as a medical condition as such, it is included within the organisations international classification of diseases as a reason to seek medical assistance.
It is characterized by three symptoms in an occupational context: feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion, negativity or cynicism in relation to your job and reduced sense of professional value. The ramifications of burnout can be huge, as if left unchecked, chronic stress can contribute to depression, anxiety, cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune orders.
If you’ve experienced burnout, or are concerned you’re currently suffering from burnout, you will know already how much of a struggle it is and how difficult it can be to recover. Often, it can be because we are guilty of over-simplifying the problem and its solution. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as having some early nights and a few quiet weekends.
In this blog we will identify the 3 main types of burnout, as the first step to combatting your burnout is to identify what kind you’re experiencing. From there, we’ll give you our top coping strategies moving forward.
- Overload burnout
This is the kind of burnout that most of us are familiar with and the one which is the most common. It is characterised by an unachievable and unrelenting workload, where you’re being given new tasks and deadlines before the previous ones have even passed. Even though the work begins to pile up, you’ll continue to work harder and more frantically in search of success.
Our top tips for coping with overload burnout would be firstly, to take a step back. Start tracking your workdays and your workload and present this to your manager. It doesn’t benefit you or your employer if your responsibilities are unachievable and overwhelming. Make sure to take regular breaks during the work day yes, that means actually taking your lunch. Dedicate time outside of work hours to pursuing your hobbies and interests.
- Underchallenged burnout
In direct comparison to overload burnout, underchallenged burnout occurs when people feel unappreciated and grow frustrated due to a lack of learning opportunities or room for professional growth. As these people have no enthusiasm or passion for their job, they cope by distancing themselves from it which only leads to cynicism, avoidance of responsibility, and overall disengagement with their work.
In a professional context, broach the issue with your manager and convey your enthusiasm to get your teeth into an exciting new project. Take the time to reflect on your role and see if there’s any opportunities to make better use of your skills and add more meaning to your everyday tasks. Also, give yourself the challenge of learning something new. Perhaps something you’ve also wanted to learn a language, a sport or even cooking a new dish. Making strides towards a goal, no matter how small, builds confidence, kickstarts your motivation and can lift you out of your funk.
- Neglect burnout
Closely related to imposter syndrome (read more about that in our blog here), this type of burnout tends to be characterised by a lack of motivation and a sense of passivity. It’s the feeling of helplessness at work, as you may think of yourself as incompetent or feel like you’re unable to keep up with the demands of your job. Perhaps you’ve tried to get ahead at work, faced some barriers and instead have given up.
The main coping mechanism for this type of burnout is to try to find a way to regain a sense of control of your work, whilst also reaching out to your support system. By looking at your to-do list, are there tasks you could delegate or outsource? Learning to set those boundaries is important and if you need to say no, say no! Structure can also help during times of stress so make sure outside of work you have a consistent routine, with a lot of self-care included.
Regardless of which type of burnout you may experience and which coping strategy works best for you, the most important thing is to identify the signs of burnout as soon as possible. The earlier the better! Don’t ignore the signs or reduce them to just being stressed. Learn to set boundaries, manage your negative thoughts and know when you need to speak up and be more assertive. When we spend as much time at work as we do, we need to be vigilant for any factors that could have a significant impact on our mental health.
At HeadStrong we are committed to making mental health a positive and empowering experience for everyone. Our friendly specialist team are ready and waiting, to listen and to help. We’re only an email or a phone call away: contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0141 255 2123. Hope is here.