Money & Career

Why Our Desire To Have It All Has Caused A Burnout Epidemic

Here's how to prevent it

There’s something to be said about wanting to have it all. The perfect job, the perfect family and a successful side hustle are all considered must-haves for modern working women. But the increasing desire to succeed coupled with our constantly switched on lives has caused an epidemic of burnout. So much so, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now deemed it a diagnosable condition. 

WHO has characterised burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”, not a medical condition, which is generally described as a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged work-related stress. A viral Buzzfeed article by Anne Helen Petersen titled ‘How Millenials Became The Burnout Generation’ soon saw the condition being regarded worldwide as a cultural epidemic. 

“Why can’t I get this mundane stuff done? Because I’m burned out. Why am I burned out? Because I’ve internalised the idea that I should be working all the time,” Petersen wrote. “Why have I internalised that idea? Because everything and everyone in my life has reinforced it — explicitly and implicitly — since I was young. Life has always been hard, but many millennials are unequipped to deal with the particular ways in which it’s become hard for us.”

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The diagnosing symptoms are now understood as: 

  • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion 
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • Reduced professional efficiency

The symptoms do however need to be carefully distinguished from anxiety and depression, conditions which exhibit similar traits. Burnout symptoms are only when feelings are associated with one’s job, not other outside factors. 

But fear not, it’s still possible to have it all and not eventually combust under the pressure. We’ve rounded up some of the most foolproof ways to ensure you can succeed everything you want, and more. 

Create a supportive network

Having a network of like-minded and driven people in your world is a great way to stay stable (and sane!). Whether it be bouncing ideas off one another, having similar stresses or just having someone to vent to that understands, developing a group of people that you trust can make the world of difference in a career trajectory. Bumble Bizz, the first of its kind, is a great place to start. On the app, you can meet and connect with other women who are looking for just that. Bumble’s Associate Marketing Director APAC Michelle Battersby says it’s all about finding that inspiration. “I would say it’s really important to find a mentor who can provide you with perspective on issues you might not consider yourself. I found a mentor in my first year at Bumble and her advice was invaluable to me.”

Create a clear distinction between work and personal life

For most women, a modern career is often tied to our lives as a whole. While this can often not feel like a negative factor, long term stress associated with tying the two together can create a feeling of resentment later on. Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going and that ultimately allows you to “turn off” work. 

Sleep, sleep and more sleep

Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands

Take relaxation seriously and switch off

Literally, switch off. Turning off your devices, say when you’re at dinner with friends or family while at the gym, can help you disconnect and regroup. Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it. Relaxation doesn’t have to only refer to the above though, it can be about unplugging from your technology when needed like at dinner with friends and family or while at the gym. 

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