Preventing Burnout: How to Protect Yourself?




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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Preventing Burnout: How to Protect Yourself?

Burnouts

An increasing number of business leaders, managers and employees are showing signs of burnouts (~ being emotionally exhausted and cynical due to work stress, both chronic and acute).

Main Cause: Work Stress

Even if other factors also are playing a role (for example personal circumstances/traits, Covid, a crisis, a war), burnouts are mainly caused by work stress. In turn, this stress at work can be caused by:
  • The increasing uncertainties and speed of change in the world around us and in our organizations.
  • People are overworking quite a bit ('work presenteeism') and the line between home and work seems to disappear further and further.
  • Conflicts with colleagues and other personal factors add up to stress levels and lead people to perceive their work as a burden, rather than as a fun and rewarding activity.

How to Prevent Burnout?

Based on a study from Wiens (2016), a part of the answer to this question can be found in practicing one of the categories of emotional intelligence: "EMPATHY" (~ aiming to be compassionate towards other people by understanding their needs, wants and opinions; expressing them and acting according to them).

How to Prevent You Get a Burnout Yourself?

Most interestingly, the above research shows that compassion does not only benefit others, but also yourself. How does that work? The act of expressing empathy creates certain physiological reactions that make us relax and calm and enhance our long-term sustainability. It also triggers the parasympathetic part of our nervous system (responsible for unconscious processes like digestion, salivation defecation, etc.). Expressing empathy also has a reverse effect on the stress levels caused by our sympathetic nervous system (stimulates psychological reactions on attacks or harmful events).

Protect Yourself by Putting These 2 Things at the Very Top of Your To-Do List

McKee en Wiens (2017) recommend to engage in empathy towards yourself (self-compassion) and towards others to protect yourself against a burnout:
  • SELF-COMPASSION: Take care of your body, mind, loved ones and make sure you get enough sleep. Be kind and forgiving to yourself.
  • GIVE EMPATHY: Nurture friendships with colleagues you like. Appreciate people. Coach people. Put people at the center.
⇒ What are your experiences and ideas regarding preventing and countering burnouts?

Sources:
McKee, A. and K. Wiens (2017), "Prevent Burnout by Making Compassion a Habit", HBR May 2017
Wiens, K.J. (2016), "Leading through Burnout: The Influence of Emotional Intelligence on the Ability of Executive Level Physician Leaders to Cope with Occupational Stress and Burnout", University of Pennsylvania
 

Rating

 
18
Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Empathy Diminishes Stress. Try it!

Thanks Anneke for sharing this article review. For me this was a bit of a revelation. You see, sinc... Sign up

 
7
Philippe Barteau
Entrepreneur, France
 

Being Empathetic is Good for Yourself

I learned from this article that being compassionate to other people decreases your own stress level... Sign up

 
4
Jorge Rodriguez Fonseca
Business Consultant, Costa Rica
 

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1. In life we have to face bad moments and situations that cause stress. So, first we have to unders... Sign up

 
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Gregory Johnson
Coach, United States
 

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Interesting discussion. The 2 prescriptions sound manageable, but (as being a manager/leader) there ... Sign up

 
3
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Empathy Requires Sensitivity which in Turn Develops the Capability to Withstand Stress

I think that to walk the shoes of someone else SENSITIVITY is required so as to understand the other... Sign up

 
2
Monchal
Project Manager, France
 

Very Interesting

Thank you very much for this very interesting post. I was aware of the fact that self compassion and... Sign up

 
3
Katie Pawley MBA
Consultant, United States
 

Interesting ~ Burnout How to Protect Yourself

I never considered the word empathy in relation to burnout. The suggestion for looking after self an... Sign up

 
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Professor, Mexico
 

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Naser M. Elmusrati
Strategy Consultant, Libya
 

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Thank you all for this important discussion. I think if we have a ready Plan-B in our pocket, we wi... Sign up

 
1
ann musembi
Student (University), Kenya
 

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Thanks for this discussion. Self-compassion is really important against stress. I have learned tha... Sign up

 
1
Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom
 

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I would disagree that stress causes burnout. In my view: Work stress is from external pressures... Sign up

 
5
Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

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@Maurice Hogarth: Thanks for your valuable contribution. The distinction you make between external a... Sign up

 
1
Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom
 

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@Jaap I agree with you regarding the difference between influencing events and the options for respo... Sign up

 
1
Gregory Johnson
Coach, United States
 

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@Jaap de Jonge: Indeed both the internal and external influences are mandatory considerations for a... Sign up

 
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Management Consultant, Canada
 

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