Imagine that your boss sent you an email at night about an unclear assignment, then a message on your phone that it should be addressed to a surprise meeting the next day. How will your body and mind react?
Rapid heartbeat, short breaths, muscle contraction, and then the anxiety resolves with such questions: Will he fire me if I don’t work? Am I suitable to do? To what extent can my boss and colleagues make fun of me during a meeting? This is our body’s response to occupational burnout syndrome.
Psychological Burnout or Passivity?
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its definition of burnout as “resulting from chronic stress in the workplace that has not been successfully managed”. This new definition increases awareness of burnout, and strengthens its connection to work, as a psychological syndrome that appears in the form of a long-term response.
It was not surprising that women reported higher levels of occupational burnout compared to men; one study published on the US National Library of Medicine (NCBI) website determined that gender inequality in the workplace affects occupational mental health, with women having lower levels of decision-making power which ultimately leads to lower self-satisfaction at work.
The study also combined stress at work and pressure outside it, to determine the reasons why women suffer from chronic stress, which was represented in additional conflicts with parents, or children, husband and society, and gender inequality in doing housework.
The study linked burnout with symptoms of anxiety and depression. One study showed that younger women who face heavy workloads and intense pressure are more likely to develop depression and generalized anxiety disorder.
High levels of stress at work – and outside – can affect physical health as well by disrupting body systems and increasing susceptibility to diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.
High levels of stress at work affect body systems and exacerbate autoimmune disorders (Pixabay).
Do you suffer from burnout?
The US National Library of Medicine has identified 3 main dimensions of our response to burnout, starting with extreme fatigue, then feelings of resentment over poor performance, ridicule from managers and co-workers, and job separation, then a general feeling of ineffectiveness and achievement in life.
The importance of these dimensions lies in placing individual stress within a social and human context. What most women face when they lose their energy or feel weak and tired is describing their situation as negative, lazy, unworthy, and misbehaving with clients, which results in withdrawal or continuing work under pressure until they fall to the ground.
To stop doubting your abilities, and pay attention to your body and mind’s need for comfort and support, a Harvard University research identifies 3 key questions to determine for yourself if you suffer from occupational burnout:
1- Do you suffer from physical and psychological exhaustion most of the time?
2- Have you become more pessimistic and detached from work and society?
3- Do you feel the importance of your work and its impact in reality, no matter how difficult it is?
You need to answer two or more questions with “No”, to reassure your career, but if you answer yes, you should move to control “Normal Fatigue” before it turns into “Serious Fatigue” or burning for work, by following the following tips:
1- Relaxation strategies: To reduce anxiety symptoms, you can sit comfortably and raise your legs on an opposite chair. Close your eyes, and relax each major muscle group in your body, for example, tightening the muscles in the legs for 10 seconds, then relaxing them for 20 seconds, to start with another set.
2- Problem-solving: Do not confront yourself with difficulties and obstacles all at once. Looking at them, in general, makes them terrifying, so follow specific steps when facing a new challenge, such as: identifying the problem, developing potential solutions, arranging solutions, setting an action plan and implementation dates, ending with choosing the most appropriate solution.
3- Mindfulness Exercises: Our memory hurts us under the influence of bouts of depression, and to resist that, the mind can be trained not to ruminate on the past or worry about the future through mindfulness exercises, by practicing meditation exercises or mindful walking, or writing down 5 things in your office, their colors and uses when Things get out of control.
4- Make your health a priority: Make healthy eating, exercise, and a good night’s sleep high on your priority list. Take all your vacations, and don’t brag that you are the one who can handle the pressure of work, perform the duties of his colleagues, and the first to enter the office and the last to leave, stop doing that.