Not happy in your job? Out of Burn-out
Barely into autumn and already out of juice? You're dreaming of vacation, but it's a long way off.
Tired of your job and motivated by nothing?
Just want to turn off the light, stay in bed and forget everything...
Well, let's face it, you might be suffering from Burn Out... Or you will soon!
Burn-out may affect 70% of employees.
So, as they say, prevention is better than cure.
So, here are a few ideas to either avoid it, or get out of it...
Burn out: what is it?
A few figures to get you started...
Burn-out affects around 34% of French employees (Baromètre T10 d'Opinion Way , June 2022) .
In 2022, Resumelab gave us these figures:
▪️ 88% of employees have already experienced burnout
▪️ 40% believe they have experienced it several times.
According to the T10 barometer, the most affected are :
▪️ Under 29s: 59
▪️ Women: 46%.
▪️ Teleworkers: 45%.
▪️ Managers: 43% (the fastest-growing category)
In 2023, some sources go even further:
An international study carried out by research agency Markteffect and GoodHabitz reveals that 73% of employees struggle with stress and burn-out, including 62% in France.
What about you? Has this ever happened to you?
Fatigue or demotivation, perhaps... But Burn-out?
What is it exactly?
The word comes from the English "to burn-out", meaning :to extinguish oneself through lack of energy, to burn from within, to be consumed!
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as a syndrome resulting from chronic stress at work that has not been successfully managed...
In 1974, German psychoanalyst Herbert Freudenberger coined the concept of Burn-out: "a state of fatigue or frustration caused by devotion to a cause, lifestyle or relationship that has not lived up to expectations".
In his famous article, he states:
"As a psychoanalyst and practitioner, I've come to realize that people are sometimes victims of fire, just like buildings.Under the strain produced by living in our complex world, their internal resources come to burn up as if under the action of flames, leaving only an immense emptiness inside, even if the external envelope seems more or less intact." (Freudenberger,H.J. ''Staff burn out'' Journal of social issue, 1974)
Since then, the term burn-out has become an important part of our vocabulary.
What are the consequences?
The WHO (World Health Organization) lists 3:
👉 Emotional exhaustion and heavy fatigue for all...
👉 Increased cynicism about everything around us (work, daily life, friends, family, colleagues, etc.).
👉 A drop in productivity with a feeling of professional failure
Warning: contrary to appearances, burn-out is never sudden. It is always the result of a slow, gradual process. This is because, as a result of regular discrepancies between their needs and their work situation, employees try to juggle and adapt...
And it's from this over-adaptation that burn-out is born!
The result is a state of total physical, emotional and mental exhaustion! The body has been progressively drained of all energy and vitality...
On the hormonal side, Cortisol and Adrenalin levels rise, while Dopamine and Serotonin levels fall. The result is quite disastrous for the body and mind in general.
Burn-out should not be confused with depression
The symptoms are very similar...
Burn-out, however, is seen as an upward spiral: we work hard and strive to achieve our professional goals. Depression, on the other hand, is seen as a downward spiral with no automatic link to work.
In a state of burn-out, you still want to do certain things, but you no longer have the energy to act. In contrast, a depressive state shows a complete lack of interest in everything... You just don't feel like doing anything anymore!
Note: from an organism's point of view, cortisol levels are very low in the case of burn-out, whereas they are high in the case of depression.
What are the signs/symptoms?
There are many symptoms or signs...
▪️ Physically: regular fatigue, dizziness, insomnia and lack of appetite, headaches, often ill...
▪️ Cognitive: difficulty concentrating, indecision...
▪️ Emotionally: anxiety, sadness, pessimism, self-deprecation, nervousness, anxiety, loss of attention, difficulty concentrating...
▪️ Behavior: withdrawal, isolation, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, addictions...
According to the French National Authority for Health (HAS), these symptoms can help us identify the problem and should therefore be the focus of our attention...
But the key to preventing this disease is to understand the process that leads to it!
Diagram of the different phases of burnout syndrome :
There are 5 phases:
1) The blissful phase: commitment
It's the beginning: you're happy to be in your job. Everything's going well!
You put in the effort, you're rewarded and you're full of energy...
You're full of ambition and you don't hesitate to work overtime, because you're highly motivated!
2) Burn-in or the overcommitment phase
Work takes up more and more space in your life: you sacrifice everything to it... Social life, family life... You no longer have any work/life balance!
Stress sets in, and you begin to doubt your skills. But out of pride or fear, you'll deny everything: "everything's fine, I don't need help, I've got it under control".
And yet, the first symptoms are there: migraine, fatigue, overload of work and hours, nervousness, and so on.
Stress has become permanent and anxiety dominates. You're always second-guessing yourself!
You make more and more mistakes, so to make up for it, well... you work even harder!
You're often sick, less efficient, etc.
The negative spiral begins: stress, doubt, illness.
4) Burn-out, the collapse phase.
From one day to the next, you no longer have the strength to get up and go to work. After a long, slow process, that's it... You've cracked!
You're at the end of your rope. You have no resources left: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
At that point, you're off for a long time.
Then comes the time of decompression: you let go of everything and your body lets go too, and the physical symptoms accumulate. The body expresses itself without restraint!
The only solution? Rest! Sleep to recharge the batteries... at first!
5) Born-out reconstruction
Little by little, you get better. Rest takes effect and you can go out again, talk, enjoy being outdoors and in the company of others, etc.
Often, it will have taken the help of a therapist to get you to this point. In this way, you begin to understand the process that brought you to this point.
You're still going through some ups and downs: sadness and despondency give way to anger... And anger will give way to appeasement... Then to a return to self-confidence.
It's at this precise moment, after a long period of introspection to define who you are and where you're headed, that the choice arises: to go back to work or not? Whatever your choice, it's by understanding the causes of this Burn-out that you'll be able to make the right choice: to go back to work or not, while learning the lessons of the past!
What about you? How far have you got?
Not sure what to do? Let's take a look at the possible causes of burn-out...
What are the causes?
Too much work? Yes, of course, it's the first cause that comes to mind when we think of burn-out!
In fact, it's the work that's no longer producing the expected results that's the important factor. The more we work, the more we hope that the results will match our efforts: rewards, success, gratitude and so on.
But when this isn't the case, we progressively enter a negative spiral...
Let's take a look at the diagram below:
Burn-out is a multifactorial syndrome, as the French National Authority for Health reminds us.
On the one hand, there are the individual factors: personal worries, the mental burden of everyday tasks for the home, the family, etc.
On the other hand, there are work-related factors: mobbing, or moral harassment by superiors, the race for productivity and its associated work overload, the resulting imbalance between professional and personal life, conflicts between colleagues, the loss of meaning in certain tasks, toxic management, lack of respect for values and needs, lack of recognition, feelings of injustice or insecurity...
These factors are also known as psychosocial risks (PSR):
All these factors can lead to numerous disorders, such as stress, and then turn into serious health concerns such as Burn-out.
From Burn-out to Born-out...
How to avoid burn-out?
There's no quick fix!
We need to set up a monitoring system, a collective prevention plan within companies.
Warning: Burn-out cannot be dissociated from work-related factors and be seen as the result of individual factors alone.
In reality, burn-out is always the consequence of organizational dysfunction. The individual should never be made to feel guilty by being made to feel that he or she is solely responsible for the malaise...
On the contrary, you should always probe and analyze the organization of the company: the way it works, management techniques, the way teams function, etc. By checking these elements, we can then defuse other possible Burn-out situations!
To achieve this, we need to leave plenty of room for open communication with employees.
Ask your questions:
- On possible sources of stress (work overload, lack of recognition, pressure or ineffective management, etc.).
- Improving well-being in the workplace (recreational facilities, rest and sports areas, flexible working hours, telecommuting, etc.).
- Improving working conditions and tools: (bright offices, ergonomic chairs and equipment, etc.).
The above survey, conducted in the USA, is interesting because it reminds us how important it is to have time for oneself: time for one's family (61%), time for self-care and sports (59%), leisure activities (57%) and so on.
The famous work-life balance is now an unavoidable expectation in the minds of employees, and certainly the best way to prevent burn-out...
How to get out of it?
We're all different: so there are as many paths to recovery as there are individuals. But getting out of Burn-out requires, above all, the help of qualified therapists (psychologists, psychiatrists and doctors).
However, there are a few things you can do right now:
- Get some distance:
You have to step back and look at what happened from a distance...
Just agree to stay calm for as long as it takes to get back on your feet: when you're off sick, you need to rest and stop all the oppressive activities that could stand in the way of recovery.
Finally knowing how to take time for yourself is invaluable: listening to your favorite music, spending time with friends, going for a walk in the countryside, etc. It doesn't matter if it's 5 minutes or an hour, you need to take time to refocus and regain your strength.
- Avoid isolation
The collapse that comes with burn-out can sometimes make you feel guilty. Because you're unable to do anything for your friends, colleagues or family... You feel useless.
This can make you want to isolate yourself. Isolation makes burn-out worse. It's important to be able to count on the presence of someone: a colleague, a friend, a relative, etc.
- Be passionate
Don't like your job? It bores you, but you have no choice, you have to earn a living...
Yes, it happens. It's true, you have to work to live... But we don't just live to work! We also have the right to fulfill ourselves in other ways. Having passions, for example: music, films, sports, collecting, etc.
So if you can't find a job to fulfill your potential right now, or if your work is giving you the blues, you can always find in your passions the strength you need to keep your head above water or get it out!
- Play sports
Have you thought about exercising?
All doctors recommend regular physical activity to improve your health, both physically and mentally...
And what about Burn-out? While sport is certainly not THE only remedy, it is one of the solutions that will help you heal and rebuild...
Of course, we could go on and on about the causes and effects of burn-out... There's so much to say!
And it would perhaps be unwise to try and take the place of doctors in advising solutions that are totally adapted to each individual. However, there is one area that deserves to be developed and on which I'd like to go a little further... Sport!
In the next article, I'll tell you more about how sport can help you prevent, fight and get out of burn-out...
By Edmond Kean