Burnout is a syndrome typically associated with high pressure working environments and chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed (WHO, 2019).
The current global situation generated from the pandemic spread of Covid-19 is cause of extreme stress and overall anxiety.
Burnout is playing a massive role among people who are fighting the virus on the front line. And even if you’re not a nurse or working in a factory producing respirators, the pressure is rising and the risk is to be blown away with it. If you’ve - sadly - lost someone or you’re worried about some of your loved ones or yourself, if you’re getting every day more anxious during your self-isolation or forced quarantine at home, if you just got laid from your job and are obsessing about your financial future… You know exactly what burnout feels like.
Be aware of the factors that can contribute to the rapid degeneration of your mental strength and burnout.
Many can be the causes of the growing of your burnout.
1. Lack of Control
Anxiety for the future is perfectly normal, especially if you fear that the situation is going to drag for much longer. The Italian government has recently consider the possibility to extend the extreme conditions of their strict quarantine until the end of July.
If you feel the same lack of control and you cannot see the end of this long nightmare, check in and remember that being pessimistic (Badenes et al., 2018) and needing control (Kumar, 2018) will lead you straight to burnout.
2. Lack of Socialisation
Self-isolation can be extremely difficult, especially if you’re an extrovert with a very active social life that thrives surrounded by people… We need to live in communities and science demonstrated that burnout can be set off by lack of socializing or relaxing (Fedele, 2017) and deficiency of close, supportive relationships (Winnubst, 2017)
3. Tremendous Internet Use
I get it, being at home all the time can become boring and the easiest way to get entertained is surf the internet… We can find anything kind of information and diversion online, but the problem is one: excessive internet use enhances burnout (Salmela-Aro et al., 2016). Plus checking the news all the time won’t do you any good and will just increase your anxiety.
Signs & Symptoms
To identify if you’re suffering from Burnout during this period of high pressure, pay attention to how you feel.
Do you feel tired and drained most of the time?
Do you suffer from frequent headaches or muscle pain?
Have your eating or sleeping habits changed? Do you eat more even if you’re not really hungry or experience agitated sleep?
1.Do you feel helpless, trapped, and defeated?
2. Do you feel alone in the world and that nobody can understand you?
3. Do you have a cynical and negative outlook on the situation and your future?
1. Do you procrastinate and take longer to get things done?
2. Do you use food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with the pressure?
3. Do you get angry at people more often and take out your frustrations on others?
If these symptoms sound familiar, don’t feel guilty or ashamed. It’s perfectly normal to struggle in times like this. It’s time though to do something about it!
If not held in check, Burnout in these situations can develop into other psychological issues.
1. Substances Abuse
In the Netherlands, after the government announced the possibility of a lockdown, people started queueing in front of coffee shops. In California the shops that are selling weed are classified as “essential” and can stay opened – exactly like food shops and pharmacy – to help people to cope with the situation. Sales of alcohol have been rising up to 60% as coronavirus was spreading and locking people in their houses.
People with any kind of addiction are now more vulnerable and in great danger of relapse and overdosing. And people who don’t have a pre-existing drug or alcohol problem are using these substances to cope better with stress, anxiety and isolation.
2. Anxiety & Depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, just over 19% of all American adults will experience at least one anxiety disorder over any 12-month period. Mental Health practitioners in New York declare that people prone to anxiety or depression or OCD are experiencing more symptoms and episodes.
If we don’t address the coronavirus crisis correctly we might incur into an anxiety pandemic and a global post-traumatic stress disease.
Suicide has always multiple and inexplicable causes, but a situation with extreme conditions as this pandemic might become the definitive trigger for people with suicidal idealisation.
Make sure you check in with your family and friends and remind them that – even if they’re isolated and quarantined – they’re not alone.
What to Do?
Burnout is a BIG problem with no single answer. However you can boost your resilience to maximise your health, wealth and happiness by using these 3 proven anti burnout tips.
1. Physical Exercise
Take extra care of your physical health: daily exercise, sleep (Toker & Malamed, 2017) and nourishing food will prevent you to fall into the hole of corona burnout.
2. Up Your Communication
Seek meaningful relationships – even if remotely in some case and make the most of your me-time during self-isolation (Fedele, 2017).
3. Entertain the Monkey
Distract your monkey brain, obsessing about the situation and checking the news 24/7, by doing something meaningful and mindful. Meditation, journaling and self-inquiry are great allies to tame the risks of burnout.
We can all contribute to get out strong from this emergency, but we need to take care of ourselves first.
Make sure you aren’t running out of oxygen and, if you are, I’m here to help you out!