Avoiding Professional Burnout

4 October 2022

Burnout is a genuine potential problem for many professionals and their organisations. It is linked to depression and anxiety as well as physical symptoms and medical problems, and is likely to result in decreased commitment to the organisation or taking time off, as well as loss of positive attitudes to work. Burnout happens to people who normally do not have problems with their mental health; in fact, it often affects people who may normally be seen as highly successful and strong. Burnout happens when circumstances at work make individuals feel that they constantly have to prove themselves, working harder and harder, neglecting personal needs, denying the problems that emerge as a result, and becoming isolated. Not surprisingly, those who are more susceptible to stress are more likely to experience burnout, and severe burnout can lead to extreme depression and other psychological problems.

So how can one avoid burnout and can organisations help prevent their employees suffering from it? In her e-book published in 2015, psychologist Kate Lemerle describes a number of ways that mindfulness practices may help professionals avoid burnout. Using mindfulness involves practising being more fully aware of your experiences in each moment, including thoughts, physical sensations, emotions, and perceptions of the world and workplace around you. This can help you to do the following:

These steps will all aid individuals in avoiding burnout. But is there anything organisations can do to help prevent burnout in their employees? It is important for individuals to be aware of potential indicators of burnout in themselves, and take preventative action. However, organisations can do a number of things to help employees do this:

By preventing burnout busy professionals can avoid psychological and emotional distress and consistently find their work more fulfilling. In turn, organisations will benefit from their employees’ well-being through the consistent effectiveness of their workforce, with fewer absences from work and greater continued commitment to the organisation.