Jacinda Ardern made headlines this month when she stepped down as the prime minister of New Zealand due to ‘burnout’.
“Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time,” she said. “And for me, it’s time.”
Her address to the nation was incredibly moving. Not least because it took many by surprise, but also because of how little ‘burnout’ is discussed in public, never mind by those in positions of such profile and power.
Traditionally, burnout has been seen by many as somewhat of a weakness, but Jacinda Ardern’s ability to speak so honestly and openly about the subject is really helping move the needle on the subject and break the taboo.
Front pages of newspapers, TV stations and board rooms across the globe have been forced to make it a topic of debate, sparking long-overdue conversations which could be transformational for tackling workplace mental health.
But what is ‘burnout’?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress which can happen to absolutely anyone, regardless of the sector they work in or the size of their organisation.
The typical symptoms of burnout include feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and a lack of motivation. It can lead to decreased productivity and an increased risk of mental health issues.
How can I avoid ‘burning out’?
To avoid burnout in business, it’s important to take steps to manage stress levels and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Below, we have broken down a few ways in which you can do just that…
- Prioritise self-care. Taking care of yourself is essential for preventing burnout. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. It also includes taking time for yourself to relax and do things you enjoy. This can be anything from reading a book to going for a walk. It is important to make sure you are taking care of your physical and mental well-being.
- Set boundaries. One of the main causes of burnout is working too much. To avoid this, it’s important to set boundaries and limit the amount of time you spend working. This includes setting a schedule for when you will start and finish work each day and taking regular breaks throughout the day. It’s also important to set boundaries with your personal life, such as not checking your work email after hours.
- Delegate tasks. Another cause of burnout is feeling overwhelmed with work. To avoid this, it’s important to delegate tasks to other team members. This will not only help to distribute workload but also help other employees to develop and grow.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and feelings. It can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. There are several ways to practice mindfulness, such as through meditation, yoga, or journaling.
- Seek support. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to seek support from friends, family, or a professional counsellor. It’s also important to have a support system within the workplace, such as a mentor or a team leader who can provide guidance and support.
- Take Time Out. It is important to take a break from work and take some time for yourself. This can be a short vacation, a weekend getaway or even just a day off. This break can help to refresh your mind and body, and give you a chance to re-evaluate your goals and priorities.
- Seek Professional Help. If you are experiencing symptoms of burnout, it’s important to seek professional help. A therapist or counsellor can help you to identify the cause of your stress and provide strategies for managing it.
Why businesses must take it seriously…
Burnout can have serious consequences on the health and productivity of employees and business owners alike, therefore encouraging and empowering people to take the steps required to manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance are key to ensuring those around us avoid ‘burning out’.
It’s also important to encourage people to prioritise self-care, set boundaries, delegate tasks, practice mindfulness, seek support and take time off when required.
So, if you or any of your staff are experiencing symptoms of burnout, it is important to encourage them to care of themselves and speak up, just like Jacinda Ardern did.
In the past there has been somewhat of a stigma attached to burnout, however if Mrs Ardern can speak up about it, then we can all speak about it.
It’s high time for businesses to take burnout seriously, and that starts with us, the employees, the business leaders and the customers.
It’s time to get the conversation started.
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