Burnout: what is the growing syndrome of being “burned out” by work and how to combat it

Have you ever found yourself physically and mentally exhausted in your life? Have you had an attitude of detachment and detachment at work? Have you felt unmotivated, frustrated, and your work productivity decreased?

If the answer to these questions is yes then have suffered from burnout syndrome or “burnout” syndrome.

Listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a occupational risk in 2019, was included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), whose entry into force has been set for January 1, 2022.

It is an increasingly well-known and diagnosed disorder.

Combine personal risk factors with organizational-related risk factors.

In fact, it is one of the main mental health problems and the prelude to many pathologies psychic.

A boy covering his face

(Photo: Getty Images)

Origin of the syndrome

The term “burnout” was first described in 1974 by the psychoanalyst Herbert Freudenberger.

He observed at a drug addiction clinic in New York how most of the volunteers had a progressive loss of energy until exhaustion.

He also detected symptoms of anxiety, depression and demotivation at work, in addition to aggressiveness towards patients after a year of working.

His description was the following: “A feeling of failure and an exhausting experience that results from an overload due to demands of energy, personal resources or spiritual strength of the worker.”

Female doctor in her officeFemale doctor in her office(Photo: Getty Images)

Main features

The syndrome is the consequence of a chronic work stress.

It usually appears in people whose profession demands dedication and dedication to others, such as education, health or social services.

It especially affects health professionals, since they are exposed to human suffering and death.

They also have a high level of occupational exposure, with long working hours and a high level of demand and overload of tasks.

This long-term exposure generates a loss of energy, a feeling of lack of personal fulfillment and a depersonalization that can lead to health problems and low motivation for work, generating errors and deterioration of the quality of the service.

Man in bed, looking at cell phone at nightMan in bed, looking at cell phone at night(Photo: Getty Images)

Three significant components characterize burnout syndrome:

State of emotional exhaustion: feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted at work.
Cynical or distant attitude towards work: dehumanized perception of the people with whom we interact at work.
Feeling of ineffectiveness, of not doing the tasks well: dissatisfaction at work with feelings of dissatisfaction and demotivation.

Evaluation instruments

There are several instruments to measure burnout by physicians.

One of the best known is the Maslach scale or Maslach Burnout Inventory, which consists of 22 items in the form of statements about the professional’s feelings and attitudes.

Another scale is the Copenhagen burnout inventory, composed of 19 questions divided into three scales to measure personal exhaustion.

Both instruments are useful to determine if a worker suffers from burnout syndrome.

But you have to use them A professional, to make a correct interpretation.

Office building with many people working at nightOffice building with many people working at nightSome societies glorify overwork to the point of exhaustion. (Photo: Getty Images)

Other influencing factors

There are several factors that influence this syndrome.

These are the most notable:

Shifts and work hours. They have clear biological and emotional influences: heart rhythm disturbances, sleep-wake cycle, etc.
Job security and stability, especially in times of crisis. Losing your job or being under pressure to lose it for a long time.
Lack of professional training to perform tasks and lack of assertiveness. Not being prepared and therefore not being able to do the job properly. Not knowing how to say no and assume more workload than we can carry out.
The organizational structure and climate: complex organizations, with many requirements, excessive bureaucracy and responsibilities that can affect the degree of control of the individual, including a high level of stress, excessive workload or little professional autonomy.
Interpersonal relationships with other colleagues work based on lack of trust, little or little cooperation or destructive, with high levels of tension.

In addition to the above, on a personal level there are a series of risk factors, such as: the desire to stand out and be brilliant, self-demand, a low tolerance for failure, perfectionism, ambition, believing oneself indispensable, having few interests outside from work or being overly idealistic.

Bathers sitting in front of the beachBathers sitting in front of the beach(Photo: Getty Images)

How can we prevent it?

There are some effective measures:

Provide information about burnout syndrome, its symptoms and consequences, so that we can detect it quickly. Remain attentive to the conditions of the work environment. Provide training on social skills and strategies to cope with changes. Encourage non-work activities.

It is very important not to be focused on work issues always, inside and outside, but to break and maintain an active life offline from work.

Better treatment

The treatment is mainly focused on the attention to the reduction of stress or the development of new positive habits that reduce the appearance of it.

Working on resilience is very important, so that the person can learn, improve and recover.

Improving self-esteem, adjusting expectations to reality or promoting healthy habits, in addition to having tools to combat stress, they will give us the key to success in the face of a disease that has grown during the pandemic.

* Fernando Díez Ruiz is a PhD professor at the Faculty of Psychology and Education at the University of Deusto and Pedro César Martínez Morán is director of the Master in Human Resources at ICADE Business School at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas.

This note originally appeared on The Conversation and is published here under a Creative Commons license.

Read the original article here.

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