By Eustacia A. English – NRWA DEI Columnist
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a time to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues. It’s also a time for us to do our part to help reduce the stigma that so many people experience. Protecting and prioritizing our mental health is vital, especially in the workplace. After all, we spend more of our time at work, whether working remotely, in-office, or on a hybrid schedule.
According to HelpGuide.org, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” While working, it’s imperative to recognize the causes of burnout, the correlation to our mental health, and the ways to reduce it.
The top five causes of burnout are as follows:
1. Unfair treatment at work. All kinds of workplace issues exist, from bias to favoritism to mistreatment by coworkers to inconsistent compensation to corporate policies. All of these issues can cause burnout. When employees don’t trust their manager, teammates, or executives to treat them fairly, the psychological bond that makes work meaningful breaks.
2. Unmanageable workload. When work feels burdensome, difficult to do well, or endless, you can feel suffocated, regardless of how many or few hours you work.
3. Unclear communication from managers. When a manager’s performance expectations and accountabilities are inconsistent or unclear, the employee doesn’t have the necessary information to do their job effectively. As a result, work becomes difficult and frustrating.
4. Lack of manager support. Manager support provides a psychological buffer, so employees know that their manager has their back even when challenges arise, or something goes wrong. A negligent, absent, or condescending manager leaves employees feeling uninformed, alone, and defensive.
5. Unreasonable time pressure. Unreasonable deadlines and pressure can create a snowball effect. When employees miss one overly aggressive deadline, they fall behind on the next major tasks.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently updated the definition of burnout: “the syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Changing the definition of burnout can help dismantle the misbelief that it’s “nothing serious” because burnout can lead to anxiety and depression. Reducing burnout should take priority to protect your mental health.
Here are a few ways to help you manage burnout:
• Set clear boundaries between work and home. I know, easier said than done. This is a learned behavior that takes practice.
• Maintain a healthy diet and exercise. If you are pressed for time, a 10-minute walk can make a difference. When we are experiencing burnout, it’s easy to reach for a sugary snack or fast food. However, these types of unhealthy foods may have a negative effect on our mood.
• Take breaks during the day. Working eight hours straight without a break is not healthy. Schedule your breaks if you have to.
• Take time to relax and unwind. Find time to have fun outside of work to relax your mind.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to colleagues, your manager, or even a professional. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of genius.
• Find out what works for you. Be sure to think about burnout remedies that work for your particular situation.
It’s hard to believe that in 2022, there’s still a stigma around mental health. That’s why it is important, now more than ever, to know the signs and find ways to protect and prioritize YOU. Prioritizing your mental health is not selfish. Take moments for your own well-being. As always, wishing you all continued peace, love, happiness, and blessings.
Eustacia English writes the Perspective column, which examines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in resume writing and career strategy. She is a 20-year HR and talent acquisition veteran and started Resumes on Demand last year. She also writes on DEI for The Black in HR e-zine. She lives with her husband and two children in Cherry Hill, NJ. Find her online at LinkedIn.com/in/ecampbell05.