That work-life balance is something we are all mindful of, making sure we’re not overexerting ourselves in work and we are giving energy towards the things in life outside of work that brings joy. Whether you are in a job that is your passion or not, many of us look to excel in whatever responsibilities we have, putting 100% into all tasks and going above and beyond to get things done. Putting your all in means you’ll create final products and services you wanted, but it also means giving so much of yourself and when you do that, you burn up all the energy you have.
Since the 1970s, Psychologist Christian Maslach of the University of California, Berkley, has been studying job-related burn-out. She says that it is more than exhaustion, it has three components, sharing with NPR:
“One is the exhaustion — physical and emotional — you feel when you’ve been too stressed at work for too long. But burnout also comes with a feeling of cynicism about work. ‘You know, it’s … take this job and shove it’ sort of thing.’ And you begin to switch from trying to do your very best all the time to do the bare minimum. The third component, she says, is when you start to blame yourself for it. Thinking, ‘What has gone wrong with me? Why am I not good at this? Why can’t I handle it?'”
I have personally been dealing with being burn out even before the pandemic, notably with physical exhaustion and a sense of cynicism. But even with that knowledge I continued to push myself to meet my standards of work, but giving myself long weekends once in awhile and focusing on activities that give me joy .
NPR reported “a new survey found that nearly 90% of respondents in more than 40 countries felt that their work lives were getting worse during the pandemic. And more than 60% felt that they were experiencing burnout often or very often. Workplace burnout was a growing problem in many professions even before the pandemic. For example, burnout has been common among physicians and health care workers for years.”
Specifically for women, in a survey conducted from Feb. 22 to March 1 of this year (2021), more than half of the women who responded stated that “their mental health suffers to the point of burnout because of their jobs, all or some of the time.”
In any job you have to take care of your health, being burnt out is no different. Taking some time off usually helps, while others might need to completely change jobs as the burn out might be the result of a work environment that does not support the balance needed. To combat burnout, it may take “anything from self-care and mindfulness techniques to therapy,” it all truly depends on the individual.
Dr. Gaurava Agarwal, a psychiatrist and well-being coach with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the director of physician well-being, noted to NPR:
“We need to make sure we are resting and calming our brain down because brains aren’t designed to work this hard, this long, chronically. And so, taking that five minutes in an hour or one day a week to your ability to recuperate is going to be a big part of dealing with that exhaustion.”
In the end it is important to be aware of how much energy you are putting towards your job and making sure to take regular breaks, taking some time away from your work. Then coming back refreshed to get back into the trenches of your job. It might also just require a conversation with your manager to adjust your workload. And if it is a situation where your work environment/culture is not conducive to your health and what you need on a consistent basis, then it might be time to move on and find a position that gives you the balance you desire to live a full and fulfilled life. This is of course easier said than done, but taking steps to deal with your burn out in some capacity is essential.
 Rhitu Chatterjee and Andee Tagle, “Burnout Isn’t Just Exhaustion. Here’s How To Deal With It,” NPR, March 18, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/03/08/974787023/burnout-isnt-just-exhaustion-heres-how-to-deal-with-it.
 Michelle Fox, “Brain fog, fatigue and chronic stress — 53% of U.S. women are burned out. Here’s how to cope,” CNBC, March 10, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/10/more-than-half-of-us-women-are-burned-out-heres-how-to-cope.html.
 Cassie Werber, “A psychologist explains how to deal with the symptoms of burnout,” Quartz at Work, June 14, 2019, https://qz.com/work/1640624/a-psychotherapist-explains-how-to-deal-with-burnout-symptoms/.
 Chatterjee and Tagle, “Burnout Isn’t Just Exhaustion.”