Dr. Matthew Husa, Chief Medical Officer, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado
It’s normal to feel checked out or to struggle with your job from time to time, but when it turns into a daily issue, it may be something more. Burnout is a specific type of work-related stress, and an increasing number of people say they’re feeling it.
The World Health Organization defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
To help you apply this definition to your personal situation, consider whether these statements are true:
- Your performance at work is declining
- Your efficiency at work is dropping
- You’re losing confidence that you can achieve your goals
- You avoid work-related tasks or struggle to find the motivation to complete them
- You feel exhausted
- You’ve lost interest in your work
If some or all of these statements ring true for you, you may be experiencing burnout, and various factors may have contributed, including lack of control, unclear expectations, workplace dysfunction, or lack of social support.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to our work stress, including transitioning to a work-from-home environment, adjusting to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, and missing the camaraderie of day-to-day interactions with colleagues at the office.
Addressing burnout is important, because left unresolved, it may lead to physical and mental health issues.
Here are a few ideas for dealing with burnout:
- Communicate with your boss: Discussing your concerns with a supervisor may help you find solutions to things that are causing ongoing stress.
- Reach out to your social circle: Co-workers, friends, and family may be able to offer the encouragement or ideas you need to help overcome feelings of burnout. Spending time with people you care about may help boost your mood and counteract the negative feelings you might be having at work.
- Take advantage of your health benefits: Work-related risk factors for burnout may also be predictors of depression. Consider talking to your doctor or accessing other resources available through your health plan, such as virtual behavioral therapy or on-demand emotional support via an app like Sanvello.
- Stick to healthy routines: Well-balanced meals, regular exercise, and quality sleep all help to reduce stress and can improve how you feel and perform at work.
- Find ways to calm your mind: Consider trying yoga, meditation, or breathing techniques to improve your mental health. Check out some ideas at newsroom.uhc.com
It may be helpful to think of burnout as a wake-up call. It’s a strong sign that something in your life is not working, so it’s important to take it seriously. Use it as an opportunity to reflect, rest and, perhaps, create a new plan for professional happiness.