The Truth About Burnout Syndrome and How to Avoid It
By Madison Becnel, PR/Media Director, Fall 2019
Researchers have noticed a new trend among Millennials and Gen-Zers called burnout syndrome. This drift in individual behavior is shifting the workforce and office culture. Employees feel exhausted, stressed, and that their work is under-appreciated. The reality is the more common this trend is becoming the younger the individuals it is affecting.
According to The World Health Organization, "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; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.”
This applies to students as well. As college students, we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to get straight A’s, obtain an internship at a well-known company, work a side job to make extra cash, and join clubs and organizations to bulk up our resumes. This does not even include the added stress of finding a job post-graduation. Because of the stress and pressure we put on ourselves in college, us Gen-Zers are becoming burnt out much quicker and at a younger age than most Millennials.
For our generation, researchers believe the onset of burnout syndrome is rooted in evolving technology, particularly social media. It’s easy to sit at work and scroll through Instagram only to find an old classmate traveling the world, living their seemingly cool life. Instead of putting down your phone, resenting your job and telling yourself, “If I work harder and longer hours I can afford this lifestyle,” evaluate why you’re feeling this way and make a change.
How to avoid burnout syndrome:
Be transparent with your boss, peers, professors, etc. - Opening up to someone will help you resolve some of those negative feelings. Your feeling of being burnt out is completely valid and could be a result of an external factor. The culture of the office where you work might not be accommodating or your boss may be putting you down. Either way, be transparent with your peers or manager so you can work out a solution together.
Take a break - Chances are you’ve been exerting a lot of time and energy into school or work to the point where you are exhausted. Take a day, a week, or a month to yourself and do something for yourself. Take the trip you’ve been wanting to, lay in bed and read the stack of books you bought years ago, but haven’t touched since. Give yourself a break every once in a while to recharge and rediscover your passions.
Prioritize the “balance” in work-life balance - It’s easy to get caught up at work and want to stay late or come home from a long day of class to only do homework. Set boundaries for yourself. Once it hits 5 p.m., put your phone away or before starting homework, take an hour to make dinner and watch your favorite show. Overworking yourself is just going to cause you to burn out faster.
If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it - Easier said than done right? Oftentimes we trap ourselves in our daily commitments and we feel there is no real way out. We feel as if our jobs are our lifelines. The truth is, you can find another job, you can do something you enjoy doing and are passionate about. Don’t hold yourself hostage in a situation if it is affecting your mental health, it’s toxic. Prioritize yourself and pursue what you truly enjoy doing even if it might mean quitting your job.
At the end of the day, you have to put yourself and your health first. It may be scary to admit that you’re feeling burnt out, but it’s important to take that first step if you want to see any change. Change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.