Burnout is a common condition that many working-age individuals experience at some point in their lives. If you feel bored at work, become tired from work, have less interests in your job, lack confidence in your abilities, experience decreased concentration, and view work relationships negatively, you may be showing signs of burnout.
Impact of burnout:
- Cognitive and emotional effects: Poor concentration, memory problems, indecision, reduced problem-solving ability, decreased self-worth, insomnia, sadness, and a potential increase in smoking or alcohol use to cope.
- Physical health: Muscle pain, headaches, fatigue, increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and a higher susceptibility to infections due to weakened immune function.
- Behavioral changes: Discontent with work, decreased work performance, detachment from the organisation, reluctance to work, thoughts of leaving, and, paradoxically, decreased efficiency when still working. These can range from mild fatigue to severe consequences such as frequent absences, social withdrawal, substance abuse, or even self-harm or suicide.
- Organisational impact: Employee demotivation leads to reduced productivity and work quality, resulting in conflicts among colleagues and possibly spreading burnout to others.
Preventing burnout in the workplace:
- Adjust the work environment and responsibility to suit employees.
- Establish a balanced work-life schedule.
- Develop effective leadership.
- Provide motivation through non-monetary rewards.
- Monitor and observe signs of burnout in employees.
- Establish a mental health counselling service.
- Develop employees’ strengths.
- Create support groups for employees.
Individual prevention measures:
- Optimise lifestyle, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and relaxation time.
- Practise mindfulness.
- Evaluate and observe one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors regularly.
- Manage work and leisure time effectively.
- Seek someone to discuss personal concerns or join a supportive group.
If burnout is detected early, changing perspectives, managing work time, and seeking support may help alleviate symptoms. However, if feelings persist and impact self-worth or result in anger that is difficult to control, it’s advisable to seek help from a mental health professional.
Ariyaporn Tangcheewinsirikul, M.D.
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