It’s the time of year when everyone feels like they need a vacation. Hopefully, the beach excursions or family camping trips on your calendar this summer will recharge your batteries and you’ll feel refreshed when you head back. But if the stress at your workplace — whether that is in the home or the office — feels relentless even after a few days off, you may be suffering from burnout, officially.
This week, the World Health Organization (WHO), classified workplace burnout as an occupational phenomenon and added the newly anointed syndrome to the International Classification of Diseases Handbook, which doctors refer to when diagnosing patients. The previous definition of burnout was vague and unspecific, falling somewhere between exhaustion and truly being sick. Now, you can receive an actual burnout diagnosis.
It states those suffering exhibit three symptoms: feeling depleted or exhausted; feeling mentally distanced from your job or having negative feelings about your workplace; and reduced professional efficacy — you know, not getting things done. This could sound like an average Monday morning, right? Well, workplace burnout symptoms are chronic and can’t just be shaken off with a large coffee and a productive meeting.
It is important to note that in order to be diagnosed with burnout, mental health professionals need to rule out anxiety, depression, and other mood and stress-related disorders. "Burnout is different from depression in that it is tied specifically to our work and our relationship with our work," Elaine Cheung, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told NPR.
Though we’ve all heard of burnout, Cheung explains that this new definition gives it legitimacy and should raise awareness. It calls for new research to find the best way to prevent and treat the problem, while also asking employers to take note of the work environment they’ve created for their employees. She believes having a community, strong social relationships, and a sense of agency at work are all very important when it comes to avoiding burnout. And of course, a healthy work-life balance.
You don’t have to work on Wall Street or in the ER to suffer from burnout, stay at home moms and homemakers are just as susceptible with all the stress they are under. CNN reports that last year, a Gallup survey found nearly 1 in 4 employees feels burned out always or often, with another 44 percent saying they feel burned out "sometimes."
Our jobs our important, but our mental health should be more so. If you are feeling the symptoms of burnout, you may need a beach vacation and a check in with your doc.