“Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”– Hans Selye

Burnout isn’t just the feeling of anxiety on Monday morning; it’s a critical condition that derives from chronic emotional stress at work. It is a growing problem for the modern workplace, having an impact on organisational costs, as well as employee health and well-being.

Infact the annual cost of burnout to the global economy has been estimated to be £255 billion. Such costs have led to the World Health Organisation predicting a global pandemic within a decade.

There are three main dimensions of burnout according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the most commonly used burnout scale: exhaustion, cynicism and a sense of personal accomplishment, with exhaustion being the most obviously displayed. Signs of burnout can vary between employees and manifest in multiple industries, from healthcare and education settings to legal and corporate finance firms.

Burnout causes a range of psychological and physical problems and can affect people long after they no longer face the stressful situation. These include fatigue, irritability, depression, withdrawal, mental and physical health problems, and self-medication with alcohol and drug use.

Consequently, it is something that employees and organisations must manage carefully.

But how can business leaders prevent the productivity-crushing effects of burnout from plaguing their companies?

First of all you have to understand the roots of Burnout before you can combat it.

So, if your employees experience some of following situations:

1. Overload.

2. Injustice.

3. Conflicting values.

4. Lack of control.

5. No recognition.

6. Disengagement.

7. Lack of attitude in envisioning the future.

All these aspects show that you may have a serious problem in your organization.

But while you can’t definitely eliminate stress in the company, you can monitor signs of burnout and identify vulnerable employees before they become chronically unhappy.

Then, although your team will inevitably endure times of stress and uncertainty, you can promote a healthier way to cope with workplace woes. And Here’s how:

1. Treat Burnout Individually

Firts of all not everyone displays the same signs of burnout, so you need to get to know your employees personally to notice when something changes.

Keeping a pulse on your team members can save time and heartache in the end. So it is curcial for Leaders to conduct regular check-ins with each person so no warning signs go unchecked.

2. Encourage Employees To Audit Emotions And Boost Resilience

Emotions become debilitating when you resist them or try to fight them off. Encouraging your employees to interact differently with their emotions, and so not suppress them, it will help reduce burnout.

One way to do this is to close your eyes and notice your thoughts. Regardless of what they are, simply focus on your breath and let your thoughts wander around. If you start to become preoccupied by your thoughts, gently take your attention back to your breath. This simple exercise can turn off anxiety circuits and turn on creativity circuits in your brain.

Resilience is your staff’s best defense against feelings of stress and burnout. When people are resilient, they confront challenges at work rather than ignore or avoid them. Building resilience starts with facing your emotions.

3. Instill Meaning In Their Workplace

People who don’t find meaning in their jobs are more prone to burnout. You can stop burnout in its tracks by contextualizing every task in terms of the company’s overall goals and bringing each of your employees into a transparent discussion about their personal contributions.

Making a concerted effort to improve employee satisfaction can also positively influence your bottom line. Work environments that achieve genuine satisfaction and fulfillment among employees significantly outperform others in the stock market.

You can schedule professional development days, or give your employees the option to work from home to promote a positive work environment.

Your employees are the ones who must grapple with feelings of burnout. But you can minimize stress and rev up resilience by investing in their mental health.

In doing so, you’ll not only support your bottom line, but also create a positive feedback loop that will make everyone feel more connected and supported.

4. Support Them To Embrace Uncertainty And Death

Embracing uncertainty and death, rather than seeking to banish or ignore it, is in fact the only way to utilize its power. To mine its vast potential as a source of creativity, authenticity, and personal and professional growth, as also suggest Hoyt Hilsman and Dennis Palumbo in their book “The Power of Uncertainty”.

In addition to this Irvin Yalom, a clinical psychologist who deals with existential issues, has also written in this famous book “Staring at the Sun” about how contemplating mortality on a deeper level can have positive psychological effects. He has argued specifically that people who contemplate, accept and face death develop a more “authentic” life in which their behaviour and goals are more align with their values.

But why does embracing uncertainty and death is so important to prevent Burnout in the organization?

The answer is based on the central role of “self-prospection”, and so in the generation and evaluation of mental representations of our possible futures.

Infact it is increasingly clear that the mind is mainly drawn to the future, not driven by the past. Behavior, memory and perception can’t be understood without appreciating the central role of prospection. We learn not by storing static records but by continually retouching memories and imagining future possibilities. Our brain sees the world not by processing every pixel in a scene but by focusing on the unexpected.

Our emotions are less reactions to the present than guides to future behavior. Infact therapists are exploring new ways to treat depression now that they see it as primarily not because of past traumas and present stresses but because of skewed visions of what lies ahead.

So, people who are able to envision their future can have positive outcomes for their jobs and life such as:

  • Implementing real intentions. It Inspire you to plan realistic steps to reach your goals.
  • Being less exhausted, but more motivated in achieving great goals.
  • Using time and internal resources to own desires, rather than wasting emotional energy on unfulfilled goals.
  • Making better long-term decisions.

In conclusion remembering that this one life is finite helps us find meaning and be attentive and intentional with our actions. Rather than the perfect selfie or the perfect salary, you might think about spending time with the people who matter to you, doing things that make you happy, and leaving your mark on society.

Thinking about uncertainty and death brings us closer to our values, and helps us think about what “the point” is; ask yourself what you value, what you stand for, what you want to be remembered for, and what you believe is your purpose.

A more meaningful, resilient and intentional living is the best tool in our hands to cope with burnout.

Originally published at medium.com