At age 28, Mariane (not her real name, by request) was diagnosed with burnout syndrome.
At first, she thought what she felt was just laziness. She would wake up feeling discouraged to go to work and always wanted to spend more time in bed. After a while, however, the tiredness turned to exhaustion and she realized she couldn’t keep up.
“What worried me the most were some dreams I had. I dreamed that I had missed a meeting or a deadline. I would wake up exhausted. Not even at rest, sleep, I could rest my mind, and I started to get worried.” , she says
At the beginning of the pandemic, Mariane started working as a radio and TV producer at the same company where she was previously a sales promoter, in Belo Horizonte (MG). With the resumption of face-to-face activities, however, she accumulated functions and this was the main trigger for burnout.
Also known as Professional Exhaustion Syndrome, burnout is a work-related disease, that is, one associated with professional activities.
According to Sérgio Dias Guimarães Junior, a psychologist and professor specializing in mental health and work, stress is a normal response of the body, especially after a long working day, whether in your profession or studies.
This stress, however, becomes a problem when it does not find space for elaboration, that is, to be relieved and transformed into a solution – whether through venting with friends or even talking to the boss.
The “non-elaboration” is stimulated by what the psychologist calls the “performance society”, which is characterized by the need to perform optimally in all daily activities. This pressure comes from both individuals and organizations.
The constant collection, associated with the high competition that is usually stimulated within companies, makes employees always dissatisfied with their productivity.
According to psychologist Wagner de Lara Machado, professor at PUC-RS (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul) and founder of Neuroeconomics, as it is a work-related problem, solutions should not be expected to be just individual.
According to him, there are four measures that companies should take that are able to reduce the stress level of workers.
The first is to make it clear to employees what their duties are, what the company’s expectations of them are and how they will be evaluated. The second is to maintain clear communication, especially between bosses and subordinates. The third is to involve workers in the company’s decision-making, especially in those that interfere in the employees’ routine.
Finally, it is important that the company is attentive to cases of moral, gender, sexual and ethnic-racial harassment, in addition to establishing a safe line for complaints.
Although work stress is a problem that must be solved in a partnership between the institution and its employees, there are some measures that individuals can take to reduce tension and make the routine less strenuous.
Your problem is not individual
The feeling of guilt is one of the most common feelings associated with burnout syndrome. Workers feel bad about not being able to do more than they can in a workday and this becomes a continual source of tension.
According to psychologists, understanding that work stress is a collective problem – caused by the constant need to perform well and by widespread competition – and letting go of the feeling of guilt for the company’s failures is the main way to relieve it.
Along with psychotherapy, this was an important step for Mariane. “Once I realized that, I was able to take it more easily. It’s not my problem, it’s the system’s”.
Have a support network in your work
According to experts, the feeling of loneliness is another common characteristic of people who develop chronic work stress. Having colleagues you can share your frustrations with is one of the easiest ways to relieve that stress.
According to them, venting to colleagues, superiors and HR, when possible, is a way of perceiving that difficulties are not individual and often finding solutions to problems.
This was also essential for Mariane. After the diagnosis, she talked to her superiors and they agreed that it would not be possible for her to continue accumulating functions.
look for meaning
Finding meaning in work can also be a way to make routine more stimulating. According to professionals, lack of purpose is a major source of frustration among workers.
Recognizing the value of the activities it develops and the company’s final product can make work more pleasurable, they say. If this is not possible, looking for a job that makes more sense can be a good way out.
Look for pleasurable activities and redesign your workflow
Another suggestion given by the specialists is to insert activities that give more pleasure into the routine and give them priority.
This search must be active. Often, something that could give pleasure goes unnoticed, without the worker being able to enjoy it.
When possible, it is important to reorganize the routine so that there is always space for these activities – such as having coffee with a colleague. This is a way to bring more value to the work.
Have moments of leisure and self-care outside of working hours
Despite the work characteristic of stress, having leisure time outside of work is essential for relief.
According to Guimarães, self-care should not be neglected. This doesn’t just mean a time to take care of your skin or go to the gym, but any commitment towards your own well-being.
These activities need to earn space on the agenda, whether it’s walking in the park or spending time with the kids. The psychologist also points out that the same task will not always work for everyone and each individual must understand what is best for them.
Whenever necessary, it is important to seek help from a professional. That’s how Mariane noticed that what she felt was not normal and realized that she should change her routine.
WHERE TO GET HELP?
- Look for the UBS (Basic Health Unit) or the Caps (Psychosocial Care Center) closest to your home
- In case of an emergency, contact Samu (Mobile Emergency Service) by calling 192
- Talk to a volunteer from the CVV (Centro de Valorização da Vida) by calling 188 (free call from any landline or cell phone nationwide) or visit www.cvv.org.br
- The Mental Health Map tracks different types of care: mapaaudemental.com.br