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Burnout has now been recognised and identified as an occupational phenomenon in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

“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.

Source: https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/

So let’s have a look at the signs in a little more detail:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion.
    • Fatigue – In the early stages, you may feel a lack of energy and feel tired most days. You may not be able to get up in the mornings. Just the thought of work may make you feel physically sick.
    • Insomnia – at the beginning it may just be one or two nights where you just cannot get to sleep and this may later develop into nightly insomnia where you just cannot get to sleep even though you are exhausted.
    • Impaired concentration – focus wains and you forget things and this just creates more problems as work starts to pile up.
    • Physical illnesses – stress messes with the immune system and so you may find yourself picking up more colds and infections.
    • Appetite – you may not feel hungry and so lose weight.
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
    • Lack of positive emotions – even things you used to enjoy outside of work seem pointless.
    • Catastrophic thoughts – you think the worst in every situation. Negative self talk, feeling you cannot rely on anyone else and starting to mistrust colleagues and family.
    • Isolation – not wanting to be around anyone else. Not socialising with colleagues anymore.
    • Detatchment – disconnecting from others. Going off sick more, not answering emails and telephone calls, coming in late and leaving early.
  • reduced professional efficacy.
    • Feelings of apathy and hopelessness.
    • Irritability
    • Poor performance

If you start to recognise any of these signs in yourself or your colleagues, it is time to get help. Stress creeps up on us and if not dealt with effectively leads to burnout. When you reach burnout you will need to take time out from work. Burnout does not go away and is not fixed by taking a holiday. You will need to start to have a good look at your life. Changes will need to be made, which may involve you taking a sabbatical.

One of the reasons Cloud 9 Minds was created was because of my own journey with burnout as a Police Officer. Our digital platform with workshops and meditations is one way to reduce stress in your organisation.