How Can Professionals Avoid a Burnout at Work Burnout at work affects everything like personal, professional, social and emotional well-being

By Sanchita Dash

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Stuck in the 9 to 5 rut, professionals are forever tied to their cubicle, only to get stuck in traffic again and spend another few precious hours on the road. This is the routine of almost every other working professional; we are not even talking about the ones who are working overtime.

But it's not just the office hours that have professionals exhausted. With overbearing workload, professionals often bring work home and end up spending working until the wee hours of the morning to meet a deadline.

This is prevalent in the start-up culture too. With zeal to finish their tasks and launch products on time, professionals often don't realise that they are tiring themselves out. This leads to a burnout and their mental health is often affected.

Entrepreneur India spoke to experts about how can professionals identify and deal with a burnout.

Switch Off From Work

There are several reasons why a professional might be stressed. Puneet Manuja, co-founder, YourDost said that one of the most prominent issues they get on their platform from working professionals is the fact that they aren't able to switch off from work, thanks to technology. "Checking the phone for notifications continuously even when there isn't one has even got into the clinical terminology called Nomophobia and Cellphone Vibration Syndrome," he said.

Manuja said that the best care is self-care, so professionals, especially the ones in highly-demanding jobs need to carve out time to take care of themselves. "Switching off from work, even for say chunks of 2 hrs is a matter of discipline and can be practised. We all think that the world will collapse if don't reply to emails or messages within a minute. That's not true at all," he said.

Additionally Manuja said that it is important for professionals to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep and work out regularly. He added that there are other things one can do at work such as breaking daily tasks into smaller chunks, having open communication with one's boss, and taking short but effective breaks after a period of deep work etc.

Burnout at work affects everything like personal, professional, social and emotional well-being whereas stress at least allows you to function effectively in some or the other areas of life, said Vikram Beri, founder, BetterLyf. "Burnout is the beginning stage of depression. At work place it could be due to varied reasons like demanding job, work-culture/environment, week support system and resources, work-life imbalance, tough boss, peer pressure/ bullying, factors beyond control, abuse and harassment," he said.

Look Out For the Signs

A lot of times, professionals are too absorbed in their work and fail to recognise the symptoms of stress that could even lead to depression. "If you look at the statistics, close to 50% of the workforce goes through chronic stress," said Manuja. This disorder comes with symptoms range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy.

Meanwhile, Beri categorises them into physical warnings, emotional warnings and behavioural warnings.

Physical Warnings

These include nausea, dehydration, weak immune, muscle cramps or twitches, aches or upset stomach, disturbed appetite and sleep cycle.

Emotional Warnings

This can be seen in negative perspective and emotions, self-blame or self-doubt, a feeling of helplessness, loss of Motivation and decreased social quotient

Behavioural Warnings

These are seen when a person is agitated, cold and blank, disinterested, has poor comprehension and concentration and is also showing symptoms of detachment, withdrawal and isolation

What Should the Employers Do?

Indian employers are waking up to the need to focus on the mental health of their employees. More and more companies are being considerate of their employees' mental well-being and are incorporating rules that will look into making a better workplace environment for them.

In this day & age of demanding jobs and tough deadlines, it's no wonder that depression and stress are the top issues that employee assistance professionals are grappling with, said Manuja. "Companies should spread awareness on the importance of Mental Health. Constantly monitor your team members if there are any signs of distress, offer them help, encourage them to seek help from professionals. It's very important that the team leads and managers possess basic counselling skills of identifying and comforting their subordinates," he said.

Another idea shared by Manuja is to organise interactive events which can send the message across in an employee-friendly way - not those 2-3 hour lectures which do not result into impact.

It is also crucial to provide facilities or services which can give employees easy access to mental health experts. Beri too stresses on the importance of talking to therapists. "Always remember that it is okay to seek help," he said.

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 


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