Burnout is a relatively new concept for workplaces. We’ve known for decades that stress can adversely affect work, however for the longest time it was difficult to put a name to it. Now, it’s succinct, well-known and accepted, but how do you recognise it? How do you prevent it? And perhaps most importantly, how do you treat it?
CTO at iLogos Game Studios Egor Piskunov hosted a talk at PGC Helsinki dealing with just that topic. To begin, he discussed how you can recognise burnout. Are you having trouble sleeping? Waking up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep? What about more worrying signs such as a varying heart rate even when at rest? All these physical symptoms could point to impending or existing burnout.
Online tests also exist, and some can be taken for free, allowing you to further affirm whether or not you’re simply having a period of heightened stress or whether it’s a sign of burnout. As Egor said, it isn’t easy, “I had to spend 6 months convincing myself that I burned out.”
Treatment and Prevention
So you’ve got burnout, what now? Well first of all, physical changes are important. When you get home take time to destress. Physical exercises can help, as can changing your diet to incorporate carbs and keeping your calorie intake steady throughout the day.
Limiting your workload can be especially important. If you calculate your average workflow (the average office worker spends only 2 hours and 48 minutes being productive) on a normal day and set that as your hard limit, you can ensure that you’re not letting down anyone on your team and still taking care of yourself. Caffeine intake should be cut too - drink only one or two cups of coffee and don’t drink any after 4pm.
And what about preventing it in future? Well, first of all you need to identify your key stressors. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid them but if you can note what elevates your stress and minimise them, or even simply be prepared, it can make a huge difference. Taking breaks seriously and putting down devices, socialising and disconnecting from work can make major differences to your stress levels.
We’ll be reporting on PGC Helsinki throughout the coming weeks and months, so keep an eye open for more highlights if you aren't able to attend!