Identifying, helping & preventing burnout


Rochelle Reddish, Rehabilitation Case Manager at Zurich Insurance has shared her insight into the occupational phenomenon “Burnout”.

‘Burnout is sneaky because you don’t realise, you’re borrowing from tomorrow to get through today’.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have classified it as an occupational phenomenon and is defined in the 2019, 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a ‘syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’ and they characterize it by three dimensions which include:

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Increased mental distance form one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficacy

Signs of a burnout to look out for:

  • Unexplained Exhaustion
  • Insomnia or change in sleep patterns
  • Headaches/Stomach aches
  • Irritability
  • Becoming physically ill
  • Neglect of self-care
  • Feeling negative or overly critical
  • Constant anxiety or feeling of overwhelm
  • Feeling numb or apathetic about life
  • Feeling detached from the world

Recovery & prevention guidance
Burnout can impact the employee’s health and wellbeing as well as an employer’s productivity; so it is important to talk about, recognise the signs and support a recovery, as it is not something that will go away on its own. Below are some tips to help & prevent burnout (in no order):

1. Rest & Unplug:

Getting enough rest can improve cognitive functioning and information processing.

If you are feeling physically and emotionally drained, it is important to take some time out to re-charge.

That may involve taking leave from work and just relaxing at home or ‘unplugging’ with a digital detox to help clear your mind.

2. Connect with others:

We are social creatures and connecting with others is important for our wellbeing.

In difficult times it can be beneficial to have people we care about and who care about us around for support.

3. Set boundaries with work & reframe how you view work:

If you are reaching burnout, try to take a complete break from work and remove yourself from the situation, so you can re-charge.

When in work, try to change your feelings about your role, so you feel a sense of purpose. Focus on aspects of the job you enjoy and try to find some value in your work.

Make some friends at work to help break up the monotony of the day, as having a chat or laugh with a friend through the day can help to reduce the stress of a demanding job.

Split up big tasks into more manageable, smaller ones, to help prevent feelings of overwhelm and ask for help!

Ensure you have a balance in your life. Where you may find work demanding, try to balance that with satisfaction elsewhere, through family, friends, hobbies, or voluntary work.

4. Practice self-care and develop wellbeing rituals:

Self-care is a conscious effort we make to promote our own mental and physical health; some ways to do this could involve maintaining a healthy sleep routine, regular exercise, drinking plenty of water or finding a fun or relaxing activity.

Additionally, it can be useful to develop some wellbeing rituals which again contribute to improving our health. Ideas can include meditation, keeping a diary, mindfulness and self-talk or affirmations.

To read the full article and learn about the resources available to help your employees who may be suffering from burnout please click here.