“Since first entering the cultural lexicon in the mid-1970s, burnout has rapidly become an everyday reality for many—if not the majority—of those working a 9-to-5 job. And now, the term is officially being recognized as an “occupational phenomenon.” According to the World Health Organization, the agency that guides many health providers and organizations, burnout is the direct result of “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Sound familiar?
The WHO says that burnout can be diagnosed if a patient exhibits the following symptoms: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy. While the new definition only begins to explain the complex condition, health experts are hopeful that this acknowledgement will help bring more awareness to the issue, as well as legitimize the feelings of those who suffer from burnout. Plus, it will hopefully inspire companies to look inward and prioritize a healthier work-life balance for employees. After all, the stakes are high.
“Sixty to 90% of doctor visits are due to stress, which evokes a series of genetic and physiological changes that can be tremendously harmful to health if sustained, including increased heart rate, blood pressure, breath rate, and muscle tension,” explains Herbert Benson, M.D., a professor of mind and body medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, who underlines that work-related stress is further exacerbated by excess screen time. In that sense, the onus is also on individuals who may suffer from burnout to be proactive about unplugging and incorporating stress-relieving activities into their downtime.”
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