"To be able to distinguish what is important from what is urgent, that is true wisdom"
At the end of the 20th century, several mental health professionals shared their observations on workers in different sectors related to helping people.
All agreed to report demotivation, progressive energy loss, lack of interest, and exhaustion with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Freudenberger chose the word burnout ("to be burned", "consumed" or "extinguished") to talk about his colleagues at the New York Free Clinic, which is dedicated to the reception and care of drug addicts.
Indeed, this expression was already used to refer to the effects of chronic drug use.
This term was used in sports jargon to describe those who, despite great efforts, failed to achieve the goals they had set for themselves.
She was also used familiarly by lawyers who suffered a loss of responsibility as well as a lack of clinical interest.
Finally, after all the different definitions given by this expression in different professional fields over the last thirty years, we can say that Burnout is a continuous process that is slowly taking place.
Burnout is therefore caused by a series of stressful events of a professional nature, but also by human relations between worker and client.
WHO defines the burnout as a response to chronic emotional stress, highlighting three specific factors:
• emotional / physical fatigue
• lower productivity
• significant depersonalization involving a feeling of alienation with a negative view of others
The characteristics of the syndrome
Burnout is mainly manifested in four different ways:
1. On the emotional levelwe observe the appearance of feelings such as depression, lack of defense, despair, apathy, disillusionment, pessimism, hostility, etc.
2. On the cognitive level (thus related to thoughts), we notice a loss of values, a disappearance of any prospect of the future, as well as a loss ofself esteem, creativity, distraction or cynicism.
3. On the behavioral planthere is a clear tendency to shirk responsibility and decision-making, repeated absences from work, inappropriate behavior, over-involvement, increased consumption of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, or even a car -sabotage.
4. Finally, on the psychosomatic planpeople with this syndrome experience muscle pain, loss of appetite, weight changes, sexual and / or sleep problems, as well as gastrointestinal and / or cerebral changes.
In the eyes of others, the person affected by burnout is constantly in a bad mood and very irritable with the clients, but also with his co-workers.
In addition, there is a clear lack of motivation and energy in this person, which gives rise to a lower return, which in turn affects the image that the person has of herself, but also of those around her. whether direct or indirect.
Which professionals are more vulnerable?
We know that the most burnout professionals are those who work with third parties, ie teachers, doctors, police officers, firefighters, as well as customer relations staff.
However, they are not the only professionals who are vulnerable to burnout.Recent studies have shown that the range of professionals likely to be affected by this syndrome is related to work-related stress, as well as other factors such as high-responsibility positions, long working days (between 10 and 16 hours a day) or repetitive, monotonous and boring tasks with no motivating issue.
Fortunately, there are techniques that can provide psychological help to the individual, but also to reorganize the structure of the company.
According to researchers at the University of Zaragoza and the Aragon Institute of Health Sciences, we can distinguish three different profiles:
– the frenetic ones: they are workers who feel overworked, leaving their personal lives and putting their health aside for the sole purpose of devoting themselves to their work.
– the unmotivated: they are indifferent to the tasks they must perform. They are demotivated, and think about changing jobs. Generally, this profile is found in the administrative and bureaucratic sectors.
– used: they feel overwhelmed by the events, and feel that their efforts will have no impact on the results to be achieved, and that they receive no recognition for the work they do. They end up becoming careless and giving up their responsibilities.
Prevent the appearance of the syndrome
Prevention of burnout is considered mainly from two different perspectives: that of the worker, and that of the organization-enterprise.
First of all, the worker affected by burnout must feel respectedthat the tasks he has to perform are motivating and that his efforts are recognized.
If these conditions are not met, then some prevention strategies can be put in place. So that's what the experts recommend:
- Set goals in accordance with reality.
- Do not overload the worker with tasks, let alone if these are not tasks he usually performs.
- Use the company's communication channels to convey concerns and fears.
- In case of anxiety, rely on people you trust.
- To find out if there are people in his entourage who could have been in a similar situation, and not be afraid or ashamed to ask them how they managed to resolve conflicts.
- Delineate the duties to be performed, and clarify the expectations arising from the position held.
- Use relaxation or meditation techniques.
- To build assertive bonds in the professional environment; try to voice his disagreement by proposing solutions and supporting his speech on facts.
- Have free time of quality.
- Have a healthy lifestyle, sleep well, and practice regular physical activity.
- Do not isolate yourself from your loved ones.
"Mental gymnastics can overcome the pressure"
What if one of our colleagues is in this situation?
As psychologist Javier Miralles summarizes, the key points to help him are:
- Establish a supportive relationship (emotional and physical)
- Listen to him actively and help him to express his concerns as well as to relativize the situation by making him consider other perspectives
- Do not judge him
- Recognize one's work if it is well done, and encourage it when the goals set are not achieved. It will be essential to create an environment of camaraderie and solidarity.
We know that burnout can be prevented, and in case we are immersed in this situation, it is possible in spite of everything, to find the lost rhythm.
"To be serene is not to be safe from turmoil, but to find peace in turmoil"