Hi, My name is [ ] and I’m pretty sure that I’m burned out
When you see the news headlines you may (or may not) be surprised to read that doctors are burning out. Then a week later it’s teachers. Followed by office workers. Veterinarians. Finance experts. Artists…And the “surprising” headlines continue, profession by profession.
As someone who has dedicated the past 5 years to helping professionals combat burnout, I’ll let you in on a secret: pretty much everyone has dealt with burnout over the past 3 years–not just these particular groups. And millions of people were dealing with it for years before. Burnout isn’t new, but there are new and better ways we can collectively address it.
Here’s a quick rundown of what it is and some behaviors to help you combat it.
What is burnout?
By definition, burnout is a state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion brought on by excessive or prolonged stress. I like to describe it as what happens when you try to give away more than you have to give. Stress is a short-term experience, while burnout can take months or even years to develop.
Workplace burnout is the most commonly discussed version, however burnout can affect many other areas of life like your friendships, marriage, parenting, and caregiving.
Did the pandemic cause it?
The pandemic did not create burnout but it did accelerate this already existing epidemic. Burnout was coined in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. In 2018, a Deloitte study reported that 77% of professionals were impacted by burnout quickly followed by the W.H.O. deeming it an occupational phenomenon in 2019. Burnout is not new. Society is just finally talking about it.
Well then, what causes it?
Burnout is situational with drivers on multiple levels: systemic, collective, and individual. Each has a number of unique dimensions. For example, systemic structures and policies; collective norms and expectations; individual behaviors and mindsets.
Hustle culture has incorrectly pointed the finger at individuals when this collective issue bears collective responsibility.
What can we do about it?
Identifying your top three to five priorities at work will help you focus on the most important tasks that deserve your limited energy. Self-care activities are stress relievers and crucial (and often overlooked) components of being a new parent. Lastly, I recommend giving yourself more time for work projects, household tasks, and even things as simple as getting out of the house. Creating a buffer can be a great trick to avoiding unneeded extra stress.
How do we know it’s working?
You won't overcome burnout after one nap or one day off, so it’s important to recognize signs of progress.
Having more energy is a big sign of relief. You will feel more rested and have the energy to handle the tasks of the day and even some“optional” activities. You will also start to feel clearer and better (physically, mentally, and emotionally). It can feel like the fog is lifted, improving your ability to think clearly and process complex problems.
Wondering about your own burnout status?
Visit Hookywellness.com for a 5-minute check-up for burnout and to learn more about relief resources and programs. About Erayna
Erayna Sargent (aka Chill Sargent), is a speaker, mental wellness champion, and burnout relief specialist. As founder and Chief Anti-Burnout Champion at Hooky Wellness®, she merges employee-centric design and mental wellness for their signature program, Navigating Burnout™. She has empowered thousands of professionals across clients including Google, Deloitte, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and more.
Erayna has an MBA from Indiana University and nearly two decades of experience as a marketing & innovation leader. She is a sought-after speaker and authority on burnout, featured in NPR Life Kit, Thrive Global, Balanced Black Girl Podcast, ChangeCatalyst, and Architectural Digest. As a contributing writer at Well+Good, she provides perspective and practical tips for real-time workplace challenges. Erayna currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband and their one-year old son. On a Hooky Day you can find Erayna in the spa, a hammock, or binge watching Tiny Desk episodes.