Burnout - A modern society's affliction
Mounting work related stress and long working hours have become almost a norm so much so that they seem like an almost inextricable part of today’s professional’s lifestyle. Employees are rewarded for staying late, putting in extra hours and even at times sleeping at office. In fact, modern corporate culture honors the burnout lifestyle. Especially in the context of Indian corporate life, this has become associated with coveted career growths.
The spread and prevalence of such a work culture has even led to a revision of our values, which have become skewed in such a way that friends and family stand dismissed and hobbies are seen as irrelevant as work becomes the only focus.
So many of us are living on the edge without even realizing the risks we are running by having a single dimensional focus on our careers. There are multiple ill-effects of burnout, which sneak up on one slowly. In the beginning, they are hardly noticeable and often ignored, but denial of emerging problems gradually turns into a cause of distress.
Most commonly observed symptoms are erratic sleep, disrupted eating, lack of social interaction, intolerance, cynicism etc. They slowly evolve into more complicated issues like seeing neither self nor others as valuable, feeling lost and unsure, exhausted, future feels bleak finally leading to a total mental and physical collapse.
Acknowledging and understanding is the key to dealing with burnouts. The idea that only you could be responsible for taking care of your own happiness and health comes as a real shock to many people. But, it is a beginning of a journey built on the belief that investing in one-self is paramount.
Most common fear amongst employees around raising their concerns about the need for a work life balance is losing their worth in front of their employers as there is no dearth of people who are more than willing to fill in their shoes at a moment’s notice. The key here is to understand that it is a two-way street where organizations also face the brunt of losing talented employees who they have invested in.
The encouraging news is that a few mature organizations have pioneered the art of engaging their workforce and have started paying heed to this emerging phenomenon and are changing their policies and approach to healthy work-life balance. The change is coming, it is inevitable albeit slow.
Change of perspective
By trying to move out of the vicious circle of more work and longer working hours one does run a risk of falling behind in the short term but it’s a trade-off which clearly needs to be made. Pacing oneself is important because even if burning the candle at both ends is tempting in the near team, it doesn’t pay over the course of a lifetime. Organizations also finally reward only those who can overcome the obstacles and keep contributing.
Life is a series of events. The key is to recognize that you have to take breaks for reflection and relaxation between each one.