MCC Daily Tribune
Managing Potential Burn-Out
“I can't seem to stay motivated.”
“I could really use a vacation.”
“I feel physically and emotionally drained most of the time.”
“I think I might be experiencing burn-out.”
If you’ve noticed yourself or someone around you using these, or similar, phrases lately, you’re not alone. We’re one year into the Covid-19 pandemic and some truly tumultuous times, and many people are feeling overwhelmed, disconnected, and burnt-out. What exactly is burn-out, you may be wondering?
While the World Health Organization (WHO) is clear in stating that burn-out is not a formal medical condition, it’s inclusion in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon in 2019 was validating for many. Burn-out is defined in ICD-11 as follows: a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity related to one's job; and
- reduced professional efficacy
While burn-out is commonly associated with the workplace, it can also occur in other areas of life, including academics and caregiving. The most important thing is to recognize when burn-out is occurring, and to reach out and ask for support. Below are some additional suggestions for managing burn-out. Please keep these tips in mind if you notice any signs with yourself or those around you:
- Consider altering your definitions of success and failure to be more gentle and less all-or-nothing in your thinking. Under the current vulnerable circumstances, doing your best might look like a different outcome than it did pre-pandemic; either way, you’re working hard and doing your best in the present moment.
- Be “good enough.”
- Joe Oliver, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, clinical psychologist and Course Director at University College London. According to Dr. Oliver, “Most of us want to do a good job at work, get things done, help out our colleagues, and progress in our careers. Sometimes, this can tip into high standards or occasionally perfectionism. This can mean we end up running ourselves ragged and constantly comparing ourselves to others, leaving us feeling like a fraud or imposter. Good enough is a kind, compassionate principle that allows us to do what is necessary to a good enough standard, whilst making room for our human limitations.”
- Commit to re-shaping the narrative, so that we collectively quit wearing over-working, lack of self-care and unstructured down time, and perfectionistic expectations as a badge of honor.
- Prioritize setting aside time for self-soothing and relaxation, whatever that means for you.
- Pare down your to-do list.
- Learn to process stressful situations and express your thoughts, feelings, and needs, versus bottling things up. Consider talking to a professional counselor, if needed.
- Work to identify things that are and are not within your control. Let go of what you can.
- Focus on the pillars of good mental health — healthy sleep hygiene, balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and staying socially connected.
- Consider taking a mental health day, if possible.
- Practice delegating tasks, saying no, or setting limits with others, if you need to.
- Schedule breaks and reward yourself for productive chunks of time while working, learning, or caregiving.
- Step outside the walls of your home environment each day to breathe in fresh air and soak up any available sunshine, even if only for 5 minutes.
- Build in breaks throughout your day to practice calming rituals. Stay grounded in the present moment, which can help you maintain an internal sense of stability and balance when outside events feel threatening.
- Create a ritual around “logging off” at the end of your day, to encourage a separation between work/school and home life.
We are sending warm, sunny regards to the MCC community as we continue to head towards the Spring semester finish line together. Be well, stay safe, and please reach out to us if you are in need of additional support.
-Counseling Center & Disability Services Team
Counseling Center & Disability Services