Burnout



Burn-out is defined in ICD-11 (11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases) as follows:


Burn-out is 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.

Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.


Burnout is something we are all familiar with on some level. While the “official” definition states that it should not be used in reference to other areas of our lives, it impacts how we experience everything. Whether we want to or not, we take work home and home to work, especially for those of us working demanding jobs with an expectation that we are available at all hours and have a family that requires our time and attention.


We have become so connected and accessible to everyone that setting clear boundaries around how we give our time and energy has become difficult. We don’t want to appear unavailable to anyone, so we are constantly available to everyone, even when it is detrimental to our well-being. It can feel like there is no off switch, and we are always “on,” leaving little to no time for ourselves. When we put ourselves on the back burner, stress can infiltrate all areas of our life.


If we are experiencing stress in every area of life, how can we not include burnout to describe other areas of life? This got me wondering what the definition of burnout in life would be. Here’s what I came up with.


Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by four dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;

  • increased mental and emotional distance from one’s job, relationships, environment, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to our everyday responsibilities;

  • reduced efficacy at home and work;

  • feeling disconnected, distracted, and overwhelmed, struggling to focus on work and home tasks.

Since burnout can impact all areas of our life, we must dig into ways to prevent this chronic and overwhelming stress. Mitigating stress starts with how we spend our time. Time is a finite precious commodity, and how we spend our time can significantly impact how we feel emotionally and physically. We all have responsibilities that take up our time, but we often have more flexibility in how we use our time than we realize, yet we use our time on things that are not required or essential to us.


Women often overschedule themselves, struggling to say no, delegate tasks, and ask for help. This usually comes from a fear that they will let someone down or appear weak or incompetent. The underlying issue is that we use fear and not our values to guide how we spend our time. We can make confident and conscious decisions about how we use our time when we know what is important to us.


Using our values and not fear means we allow space for ourselves. It can make letting go of others' perceived judgments easier. We can more easily say no, delegate, or ask for help with something not required of us because we know there are more meaningful ways to spend our valuable time.


If you are struggling with burnout, dig in and see where you are spending your time and decide if that is where you need to or want to spend it. What can you give up? What would you like to add to your life? Let’s have a quick chat if you’re unsure how to manage that chronic stress to see the solutions to reduce stress and open up your schedule for what matters most to you.



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