Stressed at work?

Burnout is now an official medical diagnosis

Debra Jones

June 2019

Did you know that more and more people are missing work due to burnout?

According to the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases, burnout now appears in the ICD-11's section on problems related to employment or unemployment.

According to the book, doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they meet the following symptoms:

1. feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
2. increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job
3. reduced professional efficacy

For decades, burnout was not considered an actual mental disorder even though it is currently one of the most widely discussed mental health problems. Now found to be a ‘syndrome,’ burnout is categorized as ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.’

As the shadow-side to self-sacrifice, burnout can affect anyone and not just at work - emergency room doctors, new parents, caregivers, overworked employees, stressed out homemakers, teens, school children and others.

Although in the medical system, your diagnosis would come from a doctor, many people now frequently take their health into their own hands.  They are learning to recognize when they need support and actively seek ways to bring themselves back into balance.

As a Natural Healing Professional, I repeatedly see these symptoms in clients. It is an epidemic of our times, yet quickly addressed and normalized. In my practice, I notice burnout when a client exhibits a depletion in life-force energy. The energy in their aura appears dull or lifeless, the eyes have lost their sparkle, and their posture is hunched over in a subconscious attempt to close in on themselves for protection from a perceived external attack. They tell me that they feel unable to cope and often want to retract from the world.  I notice specific physical ailments that indicate the body, mind, emotions and spirit are all under stress.

Clients notice it by the way that they feel and behave. They have little patience, they ‘snap’ at their loved ones or coworkers, dwell in negative thoughts, feel exhausted, overwhelmed and depressed. They are focused on what is expected of them, and what they think they must do. When it all gets too much to handle, they experience fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity.

Fortunately, talk therapy, realignment therapies, and counselling can be useful as they provide an outlet for the built-up stress to be released. For those afflicted, talking can be therapeutic, but the choice of whom to confide in is an essential factor in the successful reversal of burnout, as an unhealthy choice can sometimes exacerbate the issue. Loved ones may also be feeling pressured and may not be equipped to handle additional stress, co-workers may be feeling stressed themselves and taking on additional burden may be detrimental to their health. A healthy choice would be to seek support from a qualified healing professional who can provide the non-judgmental, skilled and compassionate aid required to shine the light on your core issues so that the solution becomes evident to you.

Take the burnout test:

Have you become cynical or critical?
Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
Do you find it hard to concentrate?
Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or not to feel?
Have your sleep habits changed?
Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be experiencing job burnout. Consider talking to a doctor or a mental health provider because these symptoms can also be related to health conditions, such as depression. Here are some ways to help yourself: 

7 Ways to Handle Job Burnout

1. Evaluate your options. Discuss specific concerns with your supervisor. Maybe you can work together to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions. Try to set goals for what must get done and what can wait.

2. Seek support. Whether you reach out to co-workers, friends or loved ones, support and collaboration might help you cope. If you have access to an employee assistance program, take advantage of relevant services. Seek a wellness professional to provide active support.

3. Try a relaxing activity. Explore programs that can help with stress such as yoga, meditation or tai chi.

4. Get some exercise. Regular physical activity can help you to better deal with stress. It can also help get your mind off work.

5. Get enough sleep. Sleep restores well-being and helps protect your health.

6. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of focusing on your breath flow and being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgment. In a job setting, this practice involves facing situations with openness and patience, and without judgment.

7. Join a community group. Groups such as The Red Tent for women and The Mankind Project for men provide a safe place to express how you're feeling to a group of non-judgmental, loving souls who can share their experiences and wisdom to help you know you're not alone.

Keep an open mind as you consider the options. Don't allow your job to undermine your health. Take back your power and focus on becoming whole again.

You can do this.