Burnout

Table of Contents

Michelle Barratt Psychology is a Toowong and Redland Bay / Wynnum – Manly Clinical Psychology Practice, and aims to provide treatment for Bipolar Disorder in Brisbane at the highest standard. The practice values implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support their clients feel safe, heard and understood, but also strives to offer effective treatment that will empower clients to learn new skills to support them in the future. If you are unsure about what you are dealing with, please don’t hesitate to contact us to support you through the next step of either working out what to do or how to proceed with an appointment.

​The following information on Bipolar will give you some insight to what Bipolar Disorder is and how it presents.

Michelle Barratt Psychology aims to provide treatment for the management of Bipolar Disorder at the highest level; implementing support and treatment that not only endeavours to support a person feel heard and understood, but a treatment plan that empowers their clients to manage their disorder effectively. Our therapeutic values aim to support all children, all adolescents, and all adults, couples and family’s work through their presenting issues to succeed in their ultimate wellbeing. 

What is Burnout?

Burnout is defined as “the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion” or “the failure of an electrical device or component through overheating”, however the definition most relevant to the mind is: “emotional, physical or mental exhaustion caused by overwork and stress”.
Just like an overused machine that can overheat from over-use, our minds can overheat and become fatigued from overuse, and this is called burnout. Burnout is most often referred to in the context of a workplace, wherein we become mentally (and
physically) fatigued from the workplace. There are a number of reasons for this including:
• Increased workplace stress and pressure
• Taking on too many duties
• Working during breaks or working overtime
• Feeling unsupported in the workplace by colleagues, management, or superiors
• Ongoing workplace conflict
• Lacking a healthy work-life balance


To some extent, working is stressful and we can all feel tired (emotionally, mentally, and/or physically) after a long day’s work, regardless of the career. However, when workplace stress is left unaddressed and unmanaged, it can result in:
• Work and career dissatisfaction
• Fatigue
• Mental and physical exhaustion
• A difficulty focusing and concentrating on your work
• Falling behind in tasks and duties
• Withdrawing from social interactions or situations and loved ones


Think of our minds like a device you might have – this could be a computer, laptop, Gameboy, mobile phone etc. When we use our devices for hours on end all day without a break, our devices overheat and start to function less. When we notice this, we decide to give our device a break by either leaving it alone for a while and letting it recover, putting it on charge, and sometimes even restarting the device. Our minds need the same thing – we need to recognise when we are starting to feel stressed in the
workplace or dissatisfied and take steps to allow ourselves to recover and recharge. This will minimise the intensity of burnout we feel and result in maintaining a positive and healthy level of workplace satisfaction.

Components of Burnout

Research has identified three areas wherein burnout can manifest, such as:
1. Exhaustion
This is the main component of burnout which results in psychological, emotional, and mental fatigue which impacts on one’s ability to work effectively and achieve results in the workplace. This can stem from some of the factors above, including taking on too many duties, working during breaks or overtime, increasing hours spent at work, lacking organisation, and feeling pressured.


2. Cynicism
This component of burnout refers to a depersonalisation or resentment towards your workplace, where one might psychologically detach from their work. This means that we do not apply ourselves that well at work, we dread having to go to work every day, we put in the least amount of effort, and have an overall dissatisfaction for our job. This can be caused by above factors of feeling unsupported in the workplace by colleagues, management or superiors, and ongoing workplace
conflict.


3. Inefficiency
This component refers to a feeling of lacking competency, lacking achievement, and/or lacking productive in one’s job. This can be caused by feeling as though your skill set is not utilised much in the role, feeling like you’re not doing more or enough, feeling like you can be developing your skills but not having the right opportunity in your job or workplace. Burnout for each person can vary and be different, so it is important to recognise what type of burnout you might be feeling so that you can know how to best address it. Preventing, minimising, and/or managing burnout. There are a number of steps that can be taken to prevent and minimise burnout in the workplace, including:


Prioritise self-care and ensure a healthy work-life balance.

While recent research into burnout management suggests that self-care and a healthy work-life balance is not the ‘cure’ to burnout, prioritising self-care and ensuring a healthy work-life balance is still an important and helpful aid in managing burnout. As the research suggests, it doesn’t prevent burnout however it does help us to cope with stress that follows from a long workday or increasing demands and duties in the workplace. Self-care can look like listening to your favourite playlist or podcast on your way home from work to unwind and relax after the day’s work, going to the gym or for a walk or some form of physical exercise, having a bath or a warm shower, making your favourite meal, having a cup of tea, reading a book, watching your favourite show, doing a skin/hair routine, seeing friends. Basically, self-care is
doing anything for you to help you unwind, relax, destress, and feel a sense of joy. Ensuring a healthy work-life balance refers to managing other life demands around your work schedule, as it is important to recognise that work is not the only thing that is meaningful to us in life. Research suggests that to feel the most fulfilled, we need to be creating meaningful action in these four areas of life: work/education, leisure, physical health/growth, and relationships. A healthy work-life balance ensures that we are structuring our days/weeks to incorporate leisure activities that are important to us, physical health/growth related activities that are important to us, and relationships which are important to us. A healthy work-life balance could look like: Waking up and making a nice, nutritional breakfast to kick start the day and give a natural boost of energy (physical health), going to work from 9am-5pm (work/education), going for a walk after work (physical health), having dinner, calling a friend/family (relationships), and ending the night with a good book (leisure). Some days we can’t fit all areas in and that’s okay, it’s mostly about ensuring structuring your week to at least be doing a few things in each area throughout the week. This will make us feel the most fulfilled and make us feel less burnt out as we are prioritising a healthy work-life balance that is not just about work.


Only work during work times
When we have increasing work pressure, duties or tasks to complete, an increasing work demand, or feel like there’s not enough time to do everything, we can fall into a habit of working outside of work times. This is includes working during our work break (which is often only 30 minutes to 1.5 hours max), staying back to work past our scheduled finishing time, or taking the work home and working from home. These habits have been identified to contribute burnout as we are not allowing our brain a cognitive break, which can result in psychological and mental exhaustion. It is important to recognise when we are engaging in these habits and take a step back and make some changes. This could include talking to your manager or superior and asking them to delegate your duties to others, organising and structuring your time to complete all tasks within your scheduled working hours, and setting boundaries with yourself, colleagues, and managers. Engaging in some of these strategies will assist in both preventing and minimising both the exhaustion and inefficiency components of burnout.


Communicate!
Communication in the workplace is a large component in minimising burnout as it can assist with conflict management in the workplace, communication of your needs and expectancies, setting boundaries, and a more supportive environment. Communication consists of addressing concerns before they arise to conflict in a respectful and kind way. For example, if a colleague is consistently asking for help and you are feeling disrupted and distracted from your work, you could communicate
this to them by saying something to the effect of:
“I understand that this role can be confusing and that you might require my help, and I’m happy to help, but I feel disrupted with what I’m doing when you ask me too many questions too often. I’m happy to help if it is urgent but if it can wait, then maybe write down some questions and we can set a time when I can go through them with you. How does that sound?”

The rule of thumb with communication is to:
1. Acknowledge and validated the other person’s needs, emotions, perspective etc.
2. Communicate your needs, emotions, perspectives etc. and use statements such as “I feel x when x”
3. Negotiate or compromise a solution together

Following these steps ensures that things are being respectfully communicated between yourself, colleagues, and/or management which in turn contributes to workplace satisfaction. Communication is mostly important with management or your superiors, particularly when you might feel like there is too many tasks being allocated to you or when you might need less duties at the time. It is important to communicate this utilising the 3 steps above to assist with a more manageable
workload, reduced stress and pressure, and an overall workplace satisfaction.

Engaging in good communication can assist in preventing and minimising the cynicism component of
burnout.

Create a sustainable and manageable workload – set boundaries!
This point combines both sections above and speaks to the importance of clear communication and setting boundaries of your needs and capabilities to create a sustainable and manageable workplace. Utilising the 3 steps above, you can talk to your manager or superior to delegate duties to others, communicate your capabilities or needs in the role such as if you need a more detailed brief for projects, or if you need an additional 5–10-minute break a few hours into your shift, and set
boundaries and reinforce these boundaries if they are being dismissed from time to time.
Engaging in good communication can assist in preventing and minimising the all 3 components of
burnout.


Seek engagement in your role
Another point to consider is building engagement in your role. If you recognise that you are feeling burnout and feel like it could be due from the inefficiency component of burnout in that your skills are not being utilised as much or feel there is more you could be doing, then building engagement can assist. Building engagement consists of having high energy, strong involvement, and a sense of self-efficacy. Ask yourself questions like “how can I be more involved in my work?”, “is there things I
can change or do in this role to make me feel a greater sense of self-efficacy?”, “what do I want to
get out of coming to work?”.
You can think of your values in work, that is, what matters to you most about work? Thinking about this will allow you to identify what changes might need to happen and where you can build engagement. You can utilise communication above and speak with your employer about taking on more duties but remembering to consider your capabilities and how much more you can do. This involves clearly communicating and specifying your limits, such as asking for 1 or 2 more
responsibilities per week. Engaging in these strategies will assist with preventing and minimising the inefficiency component of
burnout and contributing to overall workplace satisfaction.

Summary

Burnout in the workplace is preventable, minimizable, and manageable, as suggested by research, and there are many individual factors that might contribute to burnout. It is important to recognise when stress levels are increasing in the workplace to take appropriate action to prevent, minimise, or manage burnout from occurring. Seeking help can also assist with preventing, minimising, and managing burnout and can provide more individualised support and solutions. If you would like support with preventing, minimising, or managing burnout, please contact us at Michelle Barratt Psychology to speak with one of our many qualified psychologists.

Authored by Jasmine Mourad

Email Contact Form

Please be advised that you’ll receive a response within 24 to 48 hours

If in Crisis please call 000