Burnout is becoming an epidemic. This feeling of chronic stress that does not subside is rising not just in healthcare professions, but across all types of professions.
What often goes unmentioned is that in psychology everything is a spectrum. The difference between someone who is chronically stressed and the person that is burnt out is only in the eye of the clinician. Many people are living with levels of stress that are unhealthy but are not burnt out.
Just because someone is functioning at a somewhat normal level does not mean that they should not concern themselves with mental and physical health optimization.
We could all get a little better at optimizing our lifestyles to support our human needs. Many of us have a hard time accepting this humanness. Yet like sleep, our need for mental rest and purpose is real and does not go away.
I notice a lot of talk about self-care and the need for the individual person to care for their needs. But I would like to draw attention to the fact that burnout and chronic stress are typically environmental. Meaning that burnout is more often caused by the work environment and not by an individual’s self-care routine.
According to scientists from Berkeley and Rutgers, burnout has six main causes:
Perceived lack of control
Insufficient rewards for effort
Lack of a supportive community
Lack of fairness
Mismatched values and skills
Many of these causes are difficult to address without organization-wide changes. The opportunity for intervention that may be the most beneficial is in “perceived lack of control”.
As many of you know who attended my webinar, perception is everything in psychology. And we can shift even our physiological response to stress by shifting our perception.
So as you start this week, I encourage you to try to shift your thinking around your tasks from, “what do I have to do today?” To:
“What am I choosing to do today?”
Because in reality, almost all the things we do are choices. We do not have to do anything. We file our taxes because we don’t want to go to jail. We make dinner because we want to feed our families well.
We have so many choices in life and we do the things we choose. Remembering that they are choices is key.