In May 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) described burnout as a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
The WHO however, does not regard burnout as a medical condition but rather an “occupational disease”. According to researchers, some of the occupations most at risk of burnout are linked to professions that encounter high levels of stress, including healthcare, social work, police work, teaching, and customer services.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a recognized workplace phenomenon involving physical or emotional exhaustion and is characterized by severe fatigue which in turn reduces effectiveness in the workplace as a result of long-accumulated work stress. Burnout may occur as a result of constant pressure to achieve, with few opportunities to take real breaks from work. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- Feelings of exhaustion or energy depletion.
- Negativity or cynicism related to one’s job may cause one’s mental distance from one’s job.
- A reduction in professional effectiveness.
Causes of Burnout
- Inadequate work schedule
- Unclear job expectations.
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics.
- Lack of social support.
- Work-life imbalance.
How to overcome workplace burnout
- Practice self-care
A Chief Surgeon, just like every human, can reach a point of burnout. It can be a feeling of failure or loss in sense of direction or purpose in life to mention a few. To overcome burnout, the first important thing to do is to make a conscious commitment to taking care of your emotions and physical health. It may take some time for your body and mind to get back to how they used to be, but you should be willing to commit a few hours every week.
If the nature of work makes it impossible for you to take care of yourself, you may need to look for a new job. Try these tips for self-care
- Sleep enough to feel rested.
- Meditation, yoga, or other mindfulness practices can help you relax more effectively.
- Exercise every day if you can.
- Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated.
The nature of your job as a Chief Surgeon is dependent on how your emotions and physical health is being taken care of to ensure that you are at your best.
- Seek support
Support can come when you reach out to employers, co-workers, friends, or loved ones. Support and collaboration might help you cope. You can make use of the employee assistance program provided in your organization if it exists.
- Reset your priorities
We understand the importance of your role as a Chief surgeon, we also know it is possible to become consumed with work therefore, there’s every tendency that you will put work above your personal responsibilities and this can have a long-lasting impact on your health and well-being. The right approach will be to take some and make a list of important things in your life, allocate days and time to give adequate attention to them. You can set goals based on what needs to be accomplished. Always having in mind that work will continue when you break down physically or mentally and there’ll always be another Chief Surgeon.
In summary, workplace burnout occurs because of unrealistic expectations set by an employer or the individual. Burnout is often caused by things we can’t control, which makes its prevention challenging. Therefore, it is important for every chief surgeon to find ways to reduce the amount of time they spend working and thinking about their jobs, thereby reducing fatigue and preventing burnout.
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