Health

Everyman’s guide to burnout

On the heels of the World Health Organization declaring it an occupational phenomenon, it’s time to take it seriously

To avoid burnout, we have to intentionally and deliberately nurture a well-being state. A state that is laden with positive energies that allow us to function without costing us our relationships, health or other things that matter.

According to Ed Diener, an American psychologist, well-being can be defined through three interrelated components: ‘frequent positive effect, infrequent negative effect, and life satisfaction.’ Likewise, Huseyin Naci of the department of social policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, and John Ioannidis of the department of medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, define it as: ‘Physical, mental, and social health that includes choices and activities related to achieving physical vitality, mental clarity, social satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfilment.’

A common thread underlying these definitions is the positive evaluation of oneself across physical, mental, emotional and social domains. Well-being is everything that burnout isn’t. It is about energy, accomplishments, high self-efficacy and connections, as opposed to exhaustion, cynicism, poor efficacy and isolation.

Everyman’s guide to burnout

To beat burnout, I propose a framework called the Well-being State Pyramid (WSP). It embodies the principle of being humane towards yourself. Being kind and considerate towards you; taking care of your health, needs and demands; addressing the stresses or the many alerts the body or mind may be giving you; taking timely action and pro-actively strengthening your whole self to tackle day-to-day challenging situations.

There are two parts to this framework: the foundation and three levels. Accountability, purpose and priorities make the foundation of the pyramid. To prevent burnout or to live a life of well-being, you need to hold yourself accountable. Unless you take responsibility, no change will occur. Identifying your purpose and knowing your priorities make the other two components of the foundation. Together, they serve as a guiding post for all your choices and future actions...

Physical, emotional and mental energies represent the three levels of the pyramid. By actively enhancing each of them, you can effectively and efficiently live your purpose and manage your priorities, all without getting burned out. As you do this repeatedly, you enhance your well-being, characterised by health, satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and personal fulfilment.

Everyman’s guide to burnout

Together, the three levels of the WSP work towards achieving a heightened sense of well-being. Though they appear distinct, they are interrelated. You need optimal physical and emotional resources to solve business problems. Likewise, you need emotional stability to recognise that your body requires rest or fuel to function effectively. Similarly, mental clarity will better facilitate your emotional and physical response to situations.

The best performers tap into positive energy at all levels of the pyramid. Though the WSP addresses beating burnout from an individual’s vantage, there is more that requires attention. The environment we are a part of — our organisation and society as a whole — also needs to change. Humane work cultures, caring leaders, supportive work policies and countrywide regulations can aid in beating burnout.

Excerpted from Burnout: Beat Fatigue to Thrive in an Overworked World by Anju Jain (Penguin Random House)

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 10:10:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/how-can-we-avoid-burnout/article29382884.ece

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