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These days there has been a lot of talk about burnout syndrome. Burnout literally translates as exhaustion, and today it is being talked about a lot because of the unexpected resignation of Jacinda Ardern. This resignation highlights how burnout is more common than it seems and affects many people around the world. No matter how popular or simple a job seems, how much equipment or people in charge, or how much power or money you have.

Who is Jacinda Ardern and why do we talk about burnout syndrome?

Jacinda Ardern is a New Zealand politician elected prime minister of that nation in 2017. Jacinda's impressive achievement is that she was elected at only 37 years old and became the youngest head of government in the world. Her popularity and global recognition for her stewardship during the pandemic is undeniable. She was applauded around the world and her empathy with the great global crisis made her a reference. For those who remember those days, the world was left without leaders who thought beyond their own home. Jacinda made a difference.

Source: Wikimedia Commons - Jacinda Ardern in 2.018

Jacinda has had a brilliant career. With great popularity, she was re-elected to the post in October 2020. During those elections she obtained 49.1% of the votes. This was the highest absolute majority recorded since 1996. However, her exhaustion became evident when on January 19, 2023 she resigned from office. Some media outlets The prime minister is said to have ended up "burned out". Burned out is another more popular term for burnout in many Latin American countries. The main reason, she ran out of energy to fight the frustration of New Zealanders, particularly those in anti-vaccine and COVID denialist movements.

I admit that I would also be devastated if I had to explain to some people why it is a good idea to get vaccinated. Far from conspiracy theories, the job of a leader is to protect, to care.

Burnout syndrome

Burnout syndrome is a state of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. It is accompanied by a decrease in work performance. Often related to chronic stress at work or in other areas of life. It can be caused by a variety of factors, among them:

  • work overload,
  • lack of support or
  • an imbalance in the work-life balance.

Symptoms of burnout syndrome

The symptoms of burnout syndrome can vary from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Emotional exhaustion, i.e. feeling constantly tired and without energy, even after sleep or a rest.
  • Depersonalization, or feeling disconnected from others and being able to empathize with others.
  • Low self-esteem and motivation.
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping.
  • Irritability or mood swings.
  • Headaches, muscle aches and other physical problems.
  • Increase in diseases.

It is important to mention that these symptoms may be caused by other medical or psychological conditions. I recommend that you consult a health care professional if you experience these symptoms. I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be one. If you want a confirmed diagnosis, there are no better people than those who have studied for it. Go to a medical person or expert - the kind who has studied for it, not the kind who gives an opinion without studying.

Ideas for leaders

Leaders can help avoid burnout syndrome in several ways:

  1. Establish a balance between work and personal life. Foster an environment in which employees can have a life outside of work and can disconnect.
  2. Provide support and resources. Provide emotional support and tools to help employees manage stress, such as mental health programs or a helpline.
  3. Establish a healthy work environment. Promote a healthy work climate, with good communication, a supportive culture and an equitable distribution of the workload.
  4. Encourage decision making and autonomy. Allow employees to have greater autonomy in their work and make important decisions. Decisions allow employees to feel a greater sense of purpose and control over their work.
  5. Recognize and value employee effort. Celebrate and highlight the effort and hard work of employees, this helps them feel valued and appreciated.
  6. Provide opportunities for development and growth. This helps employees feel that they are progressing and advancing in their careers.

It is important to mention that the prevention of burnout syndrome is a teamwork. Leaders and team members must take responsibility to avoid this syndrome.

Recommendations for those suffering from burnout syndrome

To overcome burnout syndrome, it is important to follow a holistic approach that includes changes in both the workplace and personal life. Some strategies that can help overcome burnout syndrome include:

  1. Take a break: take time off, either for a day or a few weeks, to rest and recharge your batteries.
  2. Practice relaxation: practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing to help reduce stress and anxiety.
  3. Set goals and priorities: establish realistic and achievable goals and priorities to help maintain a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  4. Improve diet and exercise: eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to improve physical and mental health.
  5. Seek support: seek support from friends, family or mental health professionals to help process and manage stress.
  6. Changes at work: If possible, try to make changes at work to reduce stress, such as delegating tasks, asking for help or changing jobs if necessary.
  7. Strengthen relationships: Strengthen relationships with friends and family, and work to improve relationships in the workplace.
  8. Learn to say "no": learn to say "no" when necessary to avoid work overload and stress.

It is important to mention that overcoming burnout syndrome can take time and effort, and it will likely require working with a mental health professional to help address underlying issues and develop a personalized treatment plan.

And you, have you suffered from burnout syndrome? do you know anyone? would you like to contribute anything else? do you have any tips to share? I invite you to leave your contribution in the comments.

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Alberto Dominguez
Alberto Dominguez

Leading teams from theory to real and sustainable delivery of innovative IT products and services.

Articles: 40

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