Jacinda Ardern has been lauded for “normalizing” fatigue after announcing she was stepping down as New Zealand’s Prime Minister, saying there was “nothing left in the tank”.
Ardern, 42, who became leader in 2017, choked back tears during a stint Emotional press conference As she said, “I know what this job takes, and I know I don’t have enough left in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”
Although she didn’t specifically use the phrase “burnout,” a leading psychologist said that was “exactly what she was alluding to.”
“She said the tank was empty – that’s depletion,” said Professor Sir Cary Cooper, who has just published a book, Burnout in the Workplace.
“It’s unfortunate we don’t get enough of people saying those who are in command. Instead, they just go on and on, or when they leave they make another excuse.
“It would be nice if they were open and honest.”
Prof Cooper said it was “relatively rare” for a high-ranking person to speak out about their mental health, particularly in politics or business – although there have been notable exceptions in the past.
In 1998, Kjell Bondevik, Norway’s prime minister, attracted international attention when he announced that he was depressed – becoming the highest ranking world leader to admit to suffering from mental illness while in office.
Recently in business, Tom Bloomfield, founder of digital rival bank Monzo, has spoken out about his struggles with anxiety, and HSBC CEO Stuart White has spoken out about his depression.
Professor Cooper said the effect of Ms Ardern’s candor would be “very positive”: “When you put people in a position of influence, in high positions, you say something, it makes a more profound change in the willingness of others to open themselves up”.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can occur when you experience long-term stress at your job.
It was recognized as a medical condition in 2019 by the World Health Organization, which defines it as “chronic workplace stressors that have not been successfully managed.”
The phrase was coined in the 1970s after psychologist Herbert Freudenberger became so tired and tired from his work that he couldn’t even get out of bed.
He said the burnout wasn’t just stress and wasn’t depression exactly — it was a reaction to stress and frustration.
Freudenberger said, “It is a response to a demand that an individual may make upon himself in terms of perfection or leadership.”
What are the symptoms?
Burnout has three symptoms:
- Feeling of exhaustion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job
- Low professional competence
How big is the problem?
One in five Britons told Mental Health UK they feel “unable to manage stress and pressure in the workplace” in a survey of more than 2,000 people in March 2021.
Only 23% of workers said their workplace has a plan in place to detect signs of chronic stress and prevent employee burnout.
Stress, depression and anxiety were the leading causes of absenteeism from the workplace in 2021/202, accounting for 51% of all new and prolonged work-related ill health cases.
“This is a big issue,” said Professor Cooper.
Who talked about it?
Singer Sam Fender She canceled a series of concerts last yearReferring to his mental health and exhaustion.
He posted on Twitter that he “neglected myself for over a year now and didn’t deal with the things that affected me the most.”
“The kids and I are exhausted and we need this time,” he said.
American gymnast Simone Biles has withdrawn from a number of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Finalsalthough it was expected to equal her record-breaking medal tally from four years ago.
Biles said she “freaked out in a high-stress situation” and withdrew “to focus on my well-being. There is more to life than just gymnastics.”
Sandra Bullock: It was like opening an empty refrigerator
Award-winning actress, Sandra Bullock, said she had taken a break from acting last year.
“I’m so burnt out. I’m so tired, not able to make healthy, smart decisions,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
She did not say how long the break might last but said work had become her “crutch”.
“It was like opening the fridge all the time and looking for something that was never in the fridge,” she said.
What to do if you think you may be suffering from burnout
Professor Cooper said to try to get to the bottom of ‘what drives burnout’ if you’re worried you or someone you know has it – either by talking to a professional or someone close to you.
If stress is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, call NHS 111 or speak to your GP. In England, you can also refer yourself for psychotherapy through the NHS IAPT service without seeing your GP.
“We always have options, no matter what is driving our ill health,” he said.
“We all have options.”
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans For help on 116123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK. In the United States, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.