[Daily Psychological Series 1]
Burnout syndrome

By 양미린 Yang Mirin, MA.

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Nowadays, the term “burnout syndrome” is being used to describe individuals’ daily stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Although burnout is synonymous to extreme tiredness and depression, the World Health Organisation (WHO) considers the term as an occupational phenomenon, rather than a medical disorder. There are three symptoms of such phenomenon: 

 

(1) feelings of energy depletion due to chronic work stress

 

(2) negative or cynical attitudes towards your job

 

(3) developing negative self-ego with reduced work efficiency.  

   

These symptoms develop when the work-related stress has not been dealt with. Individuals may overcome the stress on their own, or with the support of the colleagues at the organizational level. For instance, companies have been encouraged to offer a four-day week, flexible commuting system, extended holiday, removing overtime hours and employee support programmes.  

  

Dr. Christina Maslach suggests that being aware of the difference between coping and preventing burnout syndrome is critical. Individuals may cope with work stress by taking breaks or going on a holiday. However, the fundamental environment of the workplace and job conditions remains the same and continues developing the organisational-level stress. Research suggests that six characteristics of the relationship between the organisation and the individual below may increase the risk of having burnout syndrome.  

  1. 1. Workload and resource: large amount of work with limited time, information, technological resources. 

  1. 2. Control/discretion over work: lack of control over work 

  1. 3. Social and intrinsic rewards/recognition: lack of rewards and recognition within the society for completing the tasks (other than salary) 

  1. 4. Community: bullying between colleagues, lack of support within the team 

  1. 5. Fairness: being treated unfairly (e.g. the case of glass ceiling, racism, lying) 

  1. 6. Values and meaning of the work: having self-doubts and no pride about the job 

A lot of individuals with burnout syndrome wonder “what am I doing wrong?”, “how do I resolve the issue?” and try to find the solution from themselves. Although one may find problems and solutions at the individual level, do not let them affect your confidence and self-esteem. Instead, find a spare moment to look around and notice the supportive atmosphere around you.  

  

American Psychological Association (APA) Monitor