Burn Out – its Official!

Burn Out – its Official!

We all know about workplace burn out. Used up, fed up and exhausted!

Now it’s official, recognised and classified.

In May 2019 the World Health Organisation (WHO) included ‘BURN OUT’ in its 11th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

Classified as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ burn out is defined as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:

• feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
• increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
• reduced professional efficacy”.

Like most things, burn out doesn’t just happen, it takes time to build and the main building material is stress.

So, now that we know its real rather than just us being ‘not up to it’, let’s have a quick look about something that can be done to alleviate it.

Remember the humble Tea Break? time to refresh, stretch, catch up with the others, eat, drink, and maybe take a walk outside.

It was easier when everyone took a tea break, meeting up for a chat in a canteen or kitchen where there were plenty of cakes, biscuits and, if it was someone’s birthday, a sausage roll or two. The walk outside was often to have a smoke, or pop to the shop to pick up something ready for the lunch break.

Now, we don’t take tea breaks, and some of us not even lunch breaks. We don’t eat so many cakes, biscuits and sausage rolls, and water is our number one go to for drinking at work. Supermarkets are open all hours and we don’t smoke so much, so no need to stretch the legs outside. As we are on our devices most of the time even the chat has less value. Add to that the increased workloads and speeds of the times and it’s easy to see how the tea break has disappeared.

Clearly however, the underlying need to stay healthy by reducing stressors in a break from output is still there. So maybe it’s best to take the ‘T’ part off, and just take a break, anytime of the day, for a few minutes? (quite possibly the world won’t collapse).

If you don’t know what to do in your break time here’s a few suggestions.

• Disengage from your work and its associated activities. Just put it to one side.

• Physically stretch. Walk about and stop off to wash your face and hands in cold water (it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps calm and balance you)

• Go outside for a walk, and if you can see green that’s a plus. (slip your shoes off if you can – see the Blog on Grounding)

• Be purposefully mindful about something, breathing, walking, eating …

Research shows that even two minutes – 2 minutes! – of mindfulness can help alleviate stressors by calming the emotion and rebalancing the mind.

A short mindful activity that can be helpful at any time at work, including before entering a stressful situation or after stress has occurred, is simply to pause and breathe. Here’s how.

Find a place to stop or sit (you can do it in the toilet cubicle if you have to!) close your eyes and breathe out forcefully and long, then take a few deep breaths that expand then collapse your chest, abdomen, and belly slowly.

Allow your breath to settle to its own rhythm naturally and as it does simply pay attention to the breath as it flows in, pauses, and flows out of your body.

Take notice of the movements of your body as you breathe.

Take notice of any sounds or sensations, thoughts, or distractions as they arise, then simply let them go, dissolve, as you gently bring your attention back to your breath and the movements of your body as you breath in and out.

Stay with the breath for a while and when you are ready, come out of the pause by taking a deeper breath in then breathe out very slowly …

Take a moment to note the change of pace you can feel before you go back to work.

Regular meditation, even short practices, can help you to regulate and manage stress levels, improve focus, provide insights, and help to induce a calm and balanced inner wellbeing. It will help prevent burn out.

Care to try it? check out our workplace meditations now.