We were recently made aware of a fact that, whilst initially surprising, unfortunately makes total sense. In 2018, the World Health Organization, the body responsible for identifying and communicating world health trends, added burnout to its list of international diseases. To add context, this is a list usually reserved for things like infectious, endocrine, nutritional and neurodevelopmental diseases amongst other nasty things.
What this means is that Burnout, something that many people are often a bit skeptical about, is an international problem and it’s getting worse!
What is burnout exactly?
Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.
The reason we found this so surprising initially is that, unlike other things on the list, there is no specific test you can take to confirm whether you have burnout. Those who are suffering will know something isn’t right, and may even suspect it is the culprit, but it tends to be what is left when other things have been ruled out. And when this time comes, it is usually too late to reverse the impacts quickly.
What are the causes of burnout?
Great question, one that is not necessarily easy to answer. Part of the problem is that for some people, work is an incredibly important part of their lives and subsequently commands a greater percentage of time and mental effort. At The Juicy Effect, we get that, our work is important to us too. Just like an athlete might feel that their ability to push through the pain barrier will increase the chances of achieving goals, so might an entrepreneur feel that they must put in the hours to succeed. In recent times, some people feel obliged to work long hours simply to retain their job. How much effort is too much? This is often a difficult thing to know in advance, but we all have our limits.
The amount of work is not necessarily the only factor because often, this is an effect. What we need to address is the reason why someone is working too much in the first place. Are they making up for past failures (we call them learning opportunities), do they have an unhealthy attachment to an unlikely version of the future, are they trying to meet unreasonable expectations that are being set by others? This list could go on for a long time. Of course, there are other factors like nutrition, lifestyle choices, and even one’s Prakruti (your unique Ayurvedic Body-Mind Type) that can determine one’s propensity for succumbing to burnout.
Stopping to smell the rice fields
Throughout human history, things have been tough. Just like future generations will face new and different challenges to us, we are facing challenges that weren’t around in previous generations. Of course, we also don’t have the threat of Scurvy or the Black Plague at the top of our minds. The thing that really matters is to be able to identify the risks of our time, and be able to adapt and proactively avoid nasty consequences if possible. Burnout is now one of those things.
If you hadn’t already gathered from other parts of our website, we think Ubud is awesome for many reasons. One of those is that the pace is just a little different from what the normal day-to-day around the world feels like. Buildings are still constructed using techniques that haven’t changed for many years. Every day Balinese are making offerings as a sign of gratitude, eating meals together, and literally stopping to smell the rice fields. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a place that time forgot, it is bustling for various parts of the year with plenty of modern conveniences. There are plenty of digital nomads working at the various co-working spaces and chewing up the bandwidth at many different coffee shops to keep business moving.
But there is a subtle energy to this place that is easy to feel once you are here. It is easy to be reminded that there is plenty to be grateful for. Our attachment to possessions, ironically something that drives us to work harder in order to support, seems refreshingly unnecessary. This is just one example of something that can free up so much mental space that on its own could represent a cure to burnout!
However, it’s the access to fresh and healthy food choices, the variety of classes and workshops on offer, the well-priced massages and ability to detach and relax that makes it wonderful. If you are feeling like you are on the verge of becoming a burnout statistic, or you feel like you are already there, a few weeks in Ubud could possibly be the best investment you could make in yourself right now.
Just remember to come and see us when you are here. We can work out a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.