Burnout Written by Akhila Sivakumar

28 May 2022 9:37 AM | Anonymous

The Sprint and T-Mobile merger ushered in a new phase of the telecommunications industry. This merger has impacted all of us by the creation of a new carrier and a surge of work. We all have felt the increase in activity but adding a global pandemic to the mix has made this time truly unprecedented. It is important now, more than ever, that we focus on burnout. What it is, the signs and symptoms, and what we can do to manage it.

We have all heard of burnout but many of us think it’s a fleeting phase of job-related stress. Burnout is much more serious than that. It is a syndrome of chronic stress with no end date that is often accompanied by extreme exhaustion and depression. Burnout is defined as a type of job-related stress that affects one’s emotional, physical, and mental health but burnout can be caused by more than occupational stress. Personal commitments, relationships, and other catalysts of stress can cause burnout. More specific causes of burnout include a lack of control, unclear job expectations, lack of social support, work-life imbalance, and a chaotic or unpredictable environment.  Burnout is not yet a medical diagnosis but if you are not careful it can lead to many medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, and a weakened immune system.   

            Although chronic stress causes burnout, the signs and symptoms between stress and burnout are very different. The symptoms of stress include over-engagement, reactive emotions, hyperactivity, and anxiety. Burnout symptoms are more aligned with depression than anxiety. With burnout, you may experience, disengagement, distant/diluted emotions, loss of motivation, lower activity, and a feeling of helplessness. The Mayo Clinic has a list of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you are experiencing burnout at work. These questions include “Have you become cynical or critical at work?”, “Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?” and “Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?”.  If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s time to monitor your symptoms and prepare to manage burnout. 

Burnout can be tackled with the “Three R Approach” – Recognize, Reverse, and Resilience. Once you recognize the symptoms you can begin reversing the effects. Reversing the effects of burnout start with finding support. Reach out to family, friends and even your mentors to communicate and connect. Think about ways that certain home or work responsibilities can be delegated out and ask for help. Even if the people you reach out to cannot take on any responsibilities, just talking to someone can help alleviate your stress. In addition to finding support, reversing the effects of burnout includes limiting your contact with negativity in your life – this could be people or situations. You can also work on reframing the cause of your burnout. Reframing the cause of your burnout can look like finding the positives and value in your work, taking time off, or reestablishing better boundaries.  The third step in this approach is to build resilience. Building resilience is a continuous effort to keep from falling into burnout. Everyone has different ways to keep burnout in check. Some examples include exercising, setting boundaries around work, journaling, and meditating. The most impactful way to build resilience is to check in with yourself regularly. Taking the time to regularly assess your feelings and evaluate your priorities is an easy and effective way to keep burnout at bay. All too often many of us fall into the trap of constantly moving from one task to the next and saying “yes” without really considering our capacity.

When it comes to burnout, the times when we are busiest are the most important times to make space for ourselves and our mental health. Summer is a fun time of year but with travel, childcare, and a high customer/client demand, burnout can creep up quickly and silently. Prevention is always better than recovery so monitor your symptoms, focus on the three R approach, and check in on your employees, coworkers, and friends. Most importantly, make sure you check in with yourself!

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