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What is Burnout Syndrome? – Part 1

Nov 07, 2022

For the last several decades, the concept of burnout has been debated among industry professionals. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided clarification by classifying burnout as a syndrome that stems from an occupational phenomenon.

This condition is a syndrome — not a medical diagnosis — caused by “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” according to the WHO. In this context, external factors, such as those from workplace dysfunction, are primarily to blame for burnout.

Burnout can affect your mental, physical and emotional state. The feelings of burnout typically occur when you’re overwhelmed at work and feel as if you can no longer keep up with the rigors of your job.

Burnout syndrome originated in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. It was first used to describe medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who felt “burned out” from their tireless work. The term later evolved to include any working professional experiencing exhaustion and an inability to cope with daily tasks.

Of course, COVID-19 has magnified burnout, especially among healthcare workers. Indeed, a job website that helps people find employment, surveyed 1,500 workers across various industries last March and found burnout increased by nearly 10 percent (52 percent in 2021 compared to 43 percent before the pandemic) during COVID-19.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

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