Stress Related Disorders and Burnout
“Whoever battles with monsters had better see that it does not turn him into a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
Extensive research suggests that anxiety and stress-related disorders are becoming more prevalent particularly among the caring profession in the wake of Covid19 and are associated with major consequences for the person on both a personal and professional level.
One such work-related stress disorder is Burnout and is more prevalent now than ever before among healthcare workers and those remote working where boundaries between home and work life are not in place.
Research has shown that burnout is prolonged exposure to a stressful and demanding environment that unfolds over a time period of five, ten or even 15 years (Bakker et al., 2000; Hakanen & Bakker, 2011; Schaufeli, 2011). It was first introduced by Freudenberger in
1974 and was defined as a state of fatigue or frustration that resulted from professional relationships that failed to produce the expected rewards (Freudenberger, 1974; Freudenberger, & Richelson, 1981). Maslach later defined burnout as emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment that was across various professional spectrums who work in stressful and challenging situations thus undermining the care and professional attention given to clients (Maslach & Zimbardo, 1982). In a study of social workers with higher levels of burnout, more physical health issues were reported over the three years of the study such as sleep problems, headaches and stomach problems and led to a faster rate of deterioration in physical health over a one year period (Kim et al., 2011). Associated with negative reactions, job withdrawal, job dissatisfaction, low organisational commitment, absenteeism, intention to leave the job (Schaufeli, 2011). Research shows that those who are chronically exhausted and hold a negative cynical attitude towards work may face health problems over time leading to burnout (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014).
From research different strategies have been adapted and the most common recommended include changing work patterns like working less, avoiding overtime and work-life balance, developing coping skills with cognitive restructuring, conflict resolution and time management, getting social support from colleagues, friends and family, Health, fitness and relaxation strategies and developing a better self-understanding through therapy and self-analytic techniques (Maslach & Goldberg, 1998).
These strategies all come under the heading of Self Care practice which is an umbrella term and has been shown to be a protective and effective element in safeguarding against the potential risks. Young and old alike can experience anxiety and stress-related symptoms but with self-awareness, coping techniques, relaxation, and mindfulness skills you can maneuver safely through times of anxiety and stress without causing long term effects on mental health and physical wellbeing.
Research indicates that self-care is not one thing but a range of different components from physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological while looking at the research through the different components we have the physical side of self-care such as exercise (Mahoney, 1997); Norcross with the psychological principles of self-care such as personal therapy (Norcross, 2000); Marotta and Valente explores the spiritual aspects covering internal body awareness and self-awareness, internal balance, self/others acceptance and yoga (Marotta & Valente, 2005); and Guy researching the importance of emotional support from co-workers, supervision, family in Self Care from both a professional and personal aspect (Guy, 2000).
Across the research, the overall theme is one taking sole responsibility for their own health and wellbeing to include one's physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional self.
When working with clients/groups in the prevention of anxiety and stress-related disorders such as burnout, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma psychoeducation is crucial to bringing awareness to the deleterious effects of stress-related disorders and the consequences of not having a self-care plan in effect. How your “job” impacts your life and how to get the Work/Life Balance by knowing your boundaries. To help you to develop Resiliency and coping mechanisms. These sessions are interactive, providing resources skills, and techniques to help develop your own self-care plan which you can take away with you and refer back to it when needed. To help you to be able to recognise your own internal states through self-awareness, mindfulness, mediation, yoga, and recognise the signs in others. By getting to know yourself and being more self-aware to take control of your mental health and wellbeing. Looking at different holistic therapies and how research has shown these being effective in helping to combat stress. To also highlight the importance of Sleep in our lives and a Healthy Diet. An overall holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing.
For more information on the above please contact me on 086-8779480