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Burnout at work - a chance to look at how you live your life

Alan O'Keeffe


More people are risking their health and happiness because of work-induced stress, writes Alan O'Keeffe

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Cradock’s warning on burnout comes in the wake of a Mater Private Healthcare Group survey that revealed four in 10 people have suffered some form of work-related burnout (stock photo)

Cradock’s warning on burnout comes in the wake of a Mater Private Healthcare Group survey that revealed four in 10 people have suffered some form of work-related burnout (stock photo)

Cradock’s warning on burnout comes in the wake of a Mater Private Healthcare Group survey that revealed four in 10 people have suffered some form of work-related burnout (stock photo)

Career burnout is threatening the health of growing numbers of people who allow work to take up too much of their free time, a leadership coach has warned.

Technology makes it easier to blur the boundaries between work and private life. Too many people are not giving themselves the amount of rest, exercise and recreation they need to perform at their best, said Shane Cradock, an executive performance specialist.

Cradock's warning on burnout comes in the wake of a Mater Private Healthcare Group survey that revealed four in 10 people have suffered some form of work-related burnout.

Burnout, due to stress, can make people feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands because they are mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.

"When you are not clear in your mind about what matters most, you tend to default to what is easiest. It is very easy to be 'always on'," said Cradock.

"The 24-7 culture has become the norm," he said.

Cradock (48) learned many lessons after he suffered a breakdown in his mid-20s.

"At the time I was working 12 to 14-hour days. I realise now it was a way of getting away from looking at myself," he said.

"If people are ambitious and achievement orientated, they may work at full pace until they hit a wall. For me it was a mental breakdown and depression," he said.

But he obtained effective counselling that enabled him to continue working. He did years of research into personal growth, which made him mentally stronger.

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"My 'a-ha' moment was when I realised the quality of my mind determines the quality of my life," he said.

He believes processes that bring greater clarity and calm to the mind can bring positive results. Something as simple as leaving the workplace for a 30-minute walk can be beneficial.

He has advised many top executives on beneficial ways of thinking and structuring their work practices, which can also enhance one's personal life.

He believes it is crucial that the heads of enterprises take responsibility for the work culture in their organisations. That includes being aware of the dangers of career burnout and acting to prevent it.

Among the factors to cause burnout are when people are not clear about their roles, when there are unmanageable workloads, a lack of communication and support, unreasonable time pressures and unfair treatment.

Doctors have warned that people underestimate the impact of stress, which can cause blood to produce hormones that are useful in small doses but when overproduced can damage arteries.

Constant high levels of stress can cause atrial fibrillation, a heart-rhythm disorder, which can contribute to coronary artery disease and death.

Cradock said symptoms of burnout include: difficulty in concentration and problems with memory; a lack of energy and constant fatigue; negative thinking; declining work performance; inability to make decisions and reduced ability to take initiatives.

"One man who suffered burnout told me it was like someone had let the air out of his tyres," he said.

He said people hit by burnout need to stop and reset their energy levels.

"You're no good to yourself or your organisation if you're burned out. Work out something with your manager to get appropriate time off to reset and recharge.

"And while you're off, be off. Stop checking e-mails. Turn off your phone. Do something you haven't allowed yourself to enjoy for years.

"One of the unexpected benefits of burnout is it offers a chance to reflect on the life you've lived so far. It's a time to consider your values, your purpose and the way you're working and living.

"As well as seeking support from people in your life, talk with your organisation about what's happened and how they can support you, or help make changes to prevent future burnout. It's in their own interest."

He said it was a multi-layered issue that has mental, physical, emotional and spiritual elements.

See shanecradock.com


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