Mother Earth has begun to show signs of rebirth as the season of Spring is upon us! It is the time of year where many of us start to feel more energized as we emerge from the darkness and slumber of winter. However, if you are not having the same sense of energy and motivation bubbling up from the inside, it might be due to burnout.
It has been believed that burnout is caused by an imbalance in our work/life experiences and inadequate self-care. Well, these circumstances can certainly aggravate and exacerbate the path of burnout, but new research indicates this phenomenon originates from a deeper well source.
If you think you might be experiencing the symptoms of burnout, or if you know someone that is struggling in this space, below are some intention setting ideas to begin to move into a healthier living and working space.
- Burnout or Moral Injury? The World Health Organization (WHO) added a definition of burnout in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision in 2013, well before the pandemic, and added a more detailed definition in the 11th revision in 2019. The pandemic provided the perfect storm to advance the research on the underlying causes of burnout on the job, specifically the ‘double binds’ that create toxic environments ripe with opportunities to cause moral injuries. Consider inviting your curious part to delve a bit deeper into learning more about this mental health pandemic.
- Do I Have It? If you have been wondering if you might be experiencing the burnout symptoms of repeated moral injuries, perhaps take one of the online tests to assess yourself. For those who work in a service industry, this test might be best. For those who work in a non-service field, this test might be a better option.
- Where Is It? Burnout is most often identified in the work environment. However, it can also occur from life demands beyond our careers. The pandemic did many things, including bringing to light the ‘double-binds’ organizations put their employees in, creating moral dilemmas and injuries. The research that is emerging from this light is that burnout and moral injury are overlapping constructs. This information is moving the responsibility for burnout away from the individual and onto organizations. So, perhaps, to normalize and validate your personal experience with burnout at work, take a look at some of this research from eClinicalMedicine, and McKinsey Health Institute.
- Who’s Responsible for It? An organization’s culture can either be healthy or toxic. In 2019, prior to the pandemic, the Harvard Business Review published an article on shifting the responsibility for managing burnout away from the individual and towards the organization, encouraging employers to clean up the toxicity in the workplace. If you hold an influential position within your company, or have a receptive boss, perhaps consider reading and then sharing this article to spread the word and advocating for change.
- What Can I Do? Change starts with awareness and begins to gain momentum with a deeper understanding. Treating the underlying cause of burnout – moral injury – starts with identifying the ‘double binds’ you are dealing with on a daily basis, whether at work or in your life. The next step is to communicate those ‘double binds’ to others that might be in the same position and to those that are engaged in the creation of the environment. Uniting with others that struggle with the same ‘double binds’ for support, camaraderie, mentorship, and activism is a vital part of creating change as well as opening lines of communication with those who have the power to enact change. When we are able to effectively communicate the challenge (i.e., share the research) so others can truly feel the impact of the moral injury being created, we open up space for empathy. It is in that space of empathy where mutual understanding and change blossom!.