Stress and Burnout
2019-10-14 | By Anuja Tipnis-Randive
While we’ve all felt stressed or fatigued at some time in our lives, work-related stress and burnout seems to be on the rise in the Netherlands, particularly amongst professionals. If burnout is on the rise, how can we avoid it?
“It may sound surprising, but burnout has been recently defined as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ by the World Health Organization,” says Katarina Gaborova, a registered psychologist and member of the ACCESS Counselling Services Network (CSN). “Burnout results from prolonged stress in a work environment that is not managed successfully.”
Stress can take a toll on the body, mind and personal relationships, and when not checked lead to an extreme level of fatigue known as burnout. Unrelieved stress can result in a complete depletion of energy and motivation, a feeling of disengagement, or a general feeling of emptiness.
Signs and symptoms of stress and burnout
Burnout can creep up. It might begin with a feeling of a lack of control, recognition or reward for hard work. “The difference is with stress we feel that eventually we can get things on track again, that is why we have an urgency to overreact. With burnout we feel completely out of control and we feel more numb. Stress tends to go more hand in hand with anxiety, burnout more with depression,” says Gaborova.
“In a work environment, pressure due to time constraints or a lack of resources can often be felt physically and emotionally,” explains Gaborova. “We can also be aware that we are under a lot of stress and feel an urgency to react, to feel that we can eventually get things under control. But this can lead to more anxiety.”
Which occupations have higher burnout rates?
“Anyone can experience a burnout connected to their employment,” says Gaborova. “Although some occupations do seem to have high burnout rates.” General practitioners, nurses, social workers, teachers, attorneys, and police officers are professions experiencing higher numbers of burnout. The longer working hours, higher professional responsibilities and pressure of care-giving in these occupations may be factors in stress and burnout.
Stress and burnout in the Netherlands
According to Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (Statistics Netherlands), 16 percent of employees in 2017 indicated experiencing work-related mental fatigue. While this might seem like a high number, it is below the European average for burnout symptoms. The Dutch work structure, higher rates of part-time and temporary work, and the flexibility of working from home may be responsible for keeping the Netherlands’ stress levels lower.
For Beste Dolaney, yoga instructor and member of the ACCESS Training Network (ATN), yoga is a great help. “I was working full time in a challenging, stressful job and on the edge of burnout, when I started practicing yoga. I found much more in yoga than just strengthening and flexing my muscles or calming my mind, it is a journey within myself.”
Exercising regularly, ideally three times a week for at least 30 minutes, and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, will help prevent stress.
Tips for preventing and reducing stress at work
- Manage stressful situations, for example break big tasks into smaller sub-goals, to give a better sense of productivity
- Develop and maintain a social network for support
- Set boundaries to protect yourself, which can often mean saying NO
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Take regular vacations
- Try to find enjoyment and positive emotion in work
- Practice using creativity in tasks that might on the surface appear boring
- Build positive professional relationships
When to contact a mental health professional?
There may come a time when certain challenges overwhelm and have a negative impact on an individual’s everyday life. At such times, it is always recommended to consult a counsellor or a mental health professional to help guide through the situation.
A healthy routine can help in maintaining a level of efficiency in working and personal lives and reduces any feelings of pressure. Listening to your mind and body controls stress and helps prevents burnout. But always remember you are not alone.
Contacting a counsellor
If you feel overwhelmed, or if a situation is having a negative impact on your everyday life, work or relationships, consult a counsellor.
Two ACCESS counsellors are on-call from 8:30 to 20:30 daily to provide a free referral to a member of the ACCESS Counselling Service Network best placed to assist you. You can contact them either by phone or by the form on the ACCESS website:
About the author
Anuja Tipnis-Randive is an expat living in Amsterdam and relieves her everyday stress by socialising, composing poems and taking walks.