Burn out? Me?
It was me. Multiple times. And, recently yet again. After writing the two most recent allnurses® articles it became obvious to me that I was dealing with burnout. I, the one doing a dissertation on the topic, was burnt out.
It is not a feeling. Or a fleeting thought. It does not go away with rest, a break, or a vacation. The effort to create a restful space or a break IS impossible. Yet the stressful surroundings, a head full of cotton, and an inability to think a way out of the box continue. Hopelessly working hard, and harder. Despite more and more that needs doing without reward. Thoughts of “I’m done” - yet not leaving - nobody cares what I do or don’t do?
This emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment lending to the state of dreading work, lateness in projects and work arrival, failures in focus and memory, frustration, overwhelmed by negative and apathetic feelings – is it your colleagues? Or you? It was me.
The difficult workplace factors for me were exacerbated by the COVID-19 required shutdown of the workplace and the associated workload not designed or ever intended to be virtual became virtual. Then the workplace became a hybrid of sorts with the virtual load remaining the same and was added to the pre-COVID-19 shutdown over-the-top workload. The resulting overload led to increased stress. I, the perfectionist, supporting multiple households, was working full-time and a doctoral student full-time. I burned out. I was one of the few surprised at the discovery. The many not surprised were close friends and family, I had been exhibiting burnout symptoms for some time.
The previous thought was that burnout was associated with work and personality factors. Currently, Maslach and Leiter (Lubbadeh, 2020) describe burnout as a possible result of “any mismatch or imbalance between the person and the six areas of the job [workload, control, reward, community, fairness, values]” (p. 8).
Have you seen or witnessed the run-for-the-hills co-worker reaction when a burned-out colleague is identified? Research has indicated “burnout can be contagious and perpetuates itself through social interactions on the job” (Maslach and Leiter, 2016, p. 106). In addition, there are multiple severe physical and psychological diseases including death associated with burnout (Lubbadeh, 2020). The stigma associated with burnout is real. Individuals are less likely to experience organizational and colleague support. Burned-out individuals who have left employment are less likely to be hired (Sterkens, Baert, Rooman, & Derous, 2020).
Since it was officially identified in the 1970s research on burnout has been extensive. The resulting preventative and treatment actions previously suggested, then used and research investigated were of varied success. In the recent past and currently, research has indicated greater success may lie in the “interventions which [are] centered on the individual and the organization – individual-level interventions strategies to magnify the individual ability to cope with the workplace stressor. Organizational-level intervention strategies focus on overcoming or reducing organizational mismatch and stressor” (Lubbadeh, 2020).
In view of this heartening researched treatment information, I am currently re-inventing myself with help using the research guidelines suggested. My re-invention efforts include my organizational workplace circumstances. In addition, I am closer to the point at which I will begin my burnout research. The research that I hope will shed further light on burnout as it has become a research-acknowledged genuine workplace crisis that results in debilitated workers and lost revenue (Lubbadeh, 2020; Maslach and Leiter, 2016; Sterkens, Baert, Rooman, & Derous, 2020). Moreover, I hope my research contribution will lend to furthering the effort of burnout intervention recommendations.
I am happy to report that rather than saying soon as I have in the past regarding the upcoming survey invitation, I can now say it is on the way. It will be your chance to contribute and make a difference - watch for it!
Lubbadeh, T. (2020). Job burnout: A general literature review. International Review of Management and Marketing, 10(3), 7-15. Retrieved from econjournals.com
Sterkens, P., Baert, S., Rooman, C., & Derous, E. (2020). As if it weren't hard enough already: Breaking down hiring discrimination following burnout. IZA Discussion Papers, 13514. Retrieved from IZA.org