Women and the threat of burnout

More and more, women are making giant strides across the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed down the process. Rather, it has made many women take up more to augment for whatever loss the pandemic has caused. And as more women take up more and continue to make giant strides, so also do many face the threat of burnout.

Women are experiencing burnout in higher numbers. It has been proved that the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified employee burnout globally but women have had the worst in cases of burnout. According to a new McKinsey and Lean report in the United States, women are feeling more burnout following the pandemic and 42 per cent said they were often or almost always burned out this year compared to 35 per cent of men.

Burnout is now a serious workplace issue which has further reinforced gender inequalities in the workplace as a leading cause of occupational mental health. Most women according to research have lower levels of decision-making authority and are often overqualified for their roles, which ultimately leads to less satisfaction at work and a sense that they have fewer career alternatives. Burnout is a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and it starts gradually with subtle occupational symptoms in toxic work environments.

Since women report higher levels of burnout, how can they avoid this health issue by managing themselves better? The first step is to find out whether you have burnout and the level you are; you must know how bad it is because it is a progressive condition that worsens with time. Also, awareness is crucial; indeed, it is usually the hardest part because few people admit to emotional weakness and people do not enjoy reflecting on their behavior or reactions especially when it seems above board.

The main pointers any woman can use to identify burnout includes regularly physical and emotionally exhausted; a lack of energy, inability to sleep, strong extreme levels of emotions like hopelessness, feeling tired, on edge, discontent and sad among others.

Another symptom is losing joy in thing that used to give you joy, losing interest in normal activities, lack of energy to socialize and strong feelings of negativity on all issues as well as feeling inadequate, useless and generally ineffective and overwhelmed.

Once it has been identified that there is a level of burnout, it is then important to come to terms that you are moving towards or already at crisis point. Honesty is crucial at this point as this is the only condition that can make a woman experiencing burnout get required support; people cannot help if they don’t know the scope or degree of burnout. Consequently, it is important to be truthful to oneself in order to arrest progression of the condition.

It is important also to get support because burnout makes it difficult for individuals to make logical decisions often. It is important at this point to be able to lean on others and delegate; forming a super human will only make the situation worse.

Take a break, use all vacation period available, take your mind off work, stop trying to prove a point at this time, mainly focus on eating right, exercise and a good sleep routine, stop jeopardising sleep time to catch up with work.  This is not the time to be the first in the office and the last to leave; be smarter in arranging your schedule, stress control mechanisms must be put in place for anyone facing burnout.

It is also important to ensure a balance between the demands of the job and available resources to get the work done. The general problem of overwork that prevails in contemporary corporate culture which calls for doing more with less must be eradicated to reduce occupational health hazards like burnout. While burnout is seen as a simple condition, it is a serious challenge that affects every area of the victim’s health; physical, mental and emotional.

Women must learn to catch the signs of burnout early, get help and apply coping mechanisms in order not to end up with serious health issue as a result of workplace challenges.

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