There are moments during a commute to work, or while sitting in front of the computer when you think to yourself, I need a vacation. With the daily grind of work, whether you’re around colleagues or working diligently from home, that life starts to feel depressing. This isn’t just feelings of stress, it’s an actual disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) added a new term in the International Classification of Diseases (a handbook for medical experts) to classify this feeling, and they are calling it burnout. The word, however, may not be new to the majority of us. Burnout is a “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”
The natural assumption is that perhaps we are burning out because we live our lives stuck to a smartphone or computer. However, the symptoms of burnout aren’t something new and don’t have much to do with technology. Researchers have been studying the concept for quite some time. According to CNN, studies on this subject date back to 1974.
WHO defines the symptoms of burnout as such:
“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
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. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.”
WHO also notes that before panicking and quickly assuming that you show symptoms of burnout, a doctor must first eliminate other facts that could be affecting you, including anxiety and mood disorders. So, while we may think yes, I’m depressed, I hate going to work, life sucks, do not assume it is all work-related. In fact, other life issues may be taking place at the same time, and we sometimes are quick to think one thing is wrong when it could be something else entirely.
If you are sure that you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, try to combat those emotions by taking a mental health day or call in sick. Also, take note of when was the last time you had a vacation. In our society, we are prone to work without stopping and hardly ever use our vacation days.
You may notice a quick difference in your mood after taking a couple of days off.