Workplace Burnout is a Silent Destroyer of Our Mental Health
Singapore, a beautiful and strong country, is busy experiencing years of widespread urbanization, driven mainly by a generation of technology development, trading, finance and banking, and other lucrative sectors that keeping this country vibrant and active in its competitiveness on the world stage. All the while, the residents have all been working hard to make a living and at the same time contribute to the growth of the economy.
Due to the pandemic situation over the past two years, it has been even more challenging and stretching for all of us in experiencing different initiatives or changes at work to survive and achieve our generative goals. We know that people are the circulating blood that keep the huge system operating and maintaining the competitiveness of the country to continue to stand out in the midst of COVID times.
While challenges are ongoing, the people who consistently contribute to the generativity of the companies and organisations in the economy might experience heightened fatigue or burnout from time to time. It is a topic that is relevant to every one of us.
However, have we ever paused at anytime, checking in on each other, whether we are exhausted as an employee, as a human during the prolonged time of the pandemic? Have we ever stopped moving for a while and checked in on whether we are still living a life that is aligned with our goals?
According to a recent study done by UK bed manufacturer Sleepseeker, Singapore is in first place in the overall fatigue score at 7.2 out of 10, with 2,238 hours in annual average working hours for the participants who took place in the survey study (9+ hours a day average). Is this such a surprising outcome? It tells us that most of us are spending MOST of our time at work. And thus, it makes sense that work is largely associated with our overall physical and mental health. In accordance with that, it is vital for us to look at the issue of possible workplace burnout, especially at this time, to become mindful about where we are right now in terms of our physical and mental health. Without such awareness or insight, workplace burnout might potentially become the silent destroyer of our mental health! Research showed that workplace burnout is significantly related to depression and anxiety (Koutsimani et al., 2019).
Here is a checklist for possible signs of workplace burnout:
- Excessive distress from prolonged hours of work
- Muscle tension or intense sense of fatigue, lack of sustainable attention
- Demotivation to wake up and work in the morning
- Increased alcohol consumption or frequency of smoking
- Early signs of chronic diseases (high blood pressure, pre-diabetic or high cholesterol)
- Physical discomfort (stomach or intestinal issues, ulcers, headaches, chest tightness)
- Sense of self-doubt or sense of incompetence
- Regular anxiety or over-thinking about one’s work schedule or content
- Feeling unappreciated or having interpersonal struggles at work
If you are experiencing more than 5 signs of the above, for most days of the week, you are likely to be in the high risk group for experiencing workplace burnout at this moment.
The contributing factors to the higher risk of experiencing workplace burnout could be wide and various. They include work-related factors, such as lack of effective task or time management, over-loading of expectations when limited resources are available, lack of recognition or viewing oneself as having little or no control over work, usually related to interpersonal struggles with those colleagues or superiors who co-create the high-pressure environment.
It could also be because of lifestyle issues, such as lacking boundaries on work-life balance, limited change in daily activity planning, insomnia or poor eating habits.
Other than that, one’s mindset or personality could also directly or indirectly associate with the experience of the handling workplace stress, determining the level of workplace burnout later. For example, people who present with a deficit mindset or perfectionist trait will be more at risk of experiencing vulnerability which increases the likelihood of experiencing workplace burnout.
Some preventive measures you may try:
- Keep a regular timetable for a better work-life balance
- Get a good sleep at night
- Partake in regular physical workouts
- Maintain a balanced diet
- Ask for help from the right person when needed, especially when you feel vulnerable (keeping to ourselves will rarely help, even when we think it will)
- Reflecting on your mindset and making necessary adjustments that align with the goals and desirable traits that you wish for
- Expanding perspectives or resources for managing the existing workplace challenges
- Spending time building healthy and supportive interpersonal relationship that are meaningful to you
- Regularly identifying the meaning and achievement in your work, which is largely associating with your self-image and sense of self-worth in life
We always think that mutual understanding is a normal phenomenon, but actually, misleading or misunderstanding happens more often in our lives. While we work for stability in economic value or for a living for our family, it is worth being reminded that keeping a healthy lifestyle and mental health is at least as important as work itself. Without physical and mental healthiness, we lose the opportunity to harvest the meaningful fruits of our hard work with the people we love and care for. Thus, taking the action to prevent workplace burnout is a priority in our lives, and getting to discover the better ways of managing our work and relationships are important and effective matters to consider. Finding the right person to start this conversation about workplace stress or burnout is all we need. Other than that, excavating the psychological wealth from our work lives which builds up in the majority of our lifetime is a meaningful and adventurous journey too. It is a truly vital area to discover and necessary life skill to find the successful keys in our work lives.
Thanks for reading this.