Burnout: The Ominous Cloud Over Us All

Lately, existing normally has felt like balancing on a piece of paper. While life still has its regular amount of stressors, Covid-19 has exponentially added to our burdens. Covid-19 ruined our sense of normalcy by turning the world on its head. From health hazards to prom cancelations, this invisible monster has terrorized everyone. Additionally, it has forced us to reimagine life. The social settings integral to life have been reconfigured. This heavy weight on our shoulders can quickly lead to burnout.

Herbert Freudenberger, American psychologist, created the term to articulate the effects of extreme stress, and high expectations from school, work, and family. Needless to say, for the past few months there has been ongoing tension and increasing ideals from these institutions. The fundamental structures of society expect proficient productivity during an inept period. This disconnect leaves a world of confusion and distress. Furthermore, it supports the idea of burnout on a global scale. 

How do we move forward?

Acknowledgement is the key. Facing the truth of our situation eliminates delusions and helps us to embrace reality. The global pandemic has induced global trauma. Trauma has widely been described as anything “too much, too soon, too fast”. Millions of people have been experiencing trauma — this is a fact. So, it’s no surprise that cortisol levels — the primary stress hormone — have skyrocketed. 

Beth Anfilogoff of The Recovery Centre in London states “We have all sorts of stress hormones and cortisol is one of them, and it’s really intricately linked with our physical health and our psychological health” (Clark). The Harris Poll, conducted in tandem with the American Psychology Association, exposes an increase in stress. More specifically, 70% of American adults indicated work and the economy as a source of stress. This is similar to trends during the 2008 Recession. So, it’s okay to admit that the world is in shambles, because it is. 

The economy is a major source of everyone’s tension; the next paycheck is uncertain, however big businesses still tug at our pockets. Corporate challenges the collective stress we all feel by prioritizing cash and coins. The root of the economy is capitalism. Capitalism is an economy based on supply — quantity of goods available for sale — and demand. However, the private owners of supply work to build personal capital and interest. The International Monetary Fund notes 18th century philosopher Adam Smith who said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest” (Jahan). Furthermore, employers allocate green bills from a far away land, while employees endure an unending list of regulations. It drains both consumers and employees. This disconnect is burdensome and causes burnout. Small businesses are struggling because they do not have the massive infrastructure to stay afloat like Amazon, Netflix, and Target. Profit will always be above people, however, Covid-19 has strained the pockets of common men. Therefore, low demand has deprived small businesses.

The Washington Post reveals that, “Today, fully 18 percent of small businesses — defined as those with fewer than 500 employees — in lodging and food services expect never to return to their pre-pandemic level of operations”. However major corporations like Amazon, Netflix, and Target remain kings of the economy. Such demand trickles from the top down. Therefore, along with ever-changing institutions like school and government, corporate America only helps to further compound our stress. 

How do we combat the unfathomable, yet unavoidable state of the world? 

Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon. The unseeable force which sent shockwaves throughout the world continues to reverberate lives. Covid-19 has left a monumental dent in history and exposed the flaws of institutions. Corporate America remains a stage that spotlights big businesses while ignoring the little man. Furthermore, the economy has caused an inconceivable amount of stress. While the next paycheck is uncertain, goods and services are still needed. 

Facing the music, so to speak, is essential to progress. Deepak Chopra once said, “Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not imposing expectations from the past. Surrender is faith that the power of love can accomplish anything, even when you cannot foresee the outcome of a situation”. Currently, the world is upside down. Rather than resisting the reality of Covid-19, find stillness through self-love. This is difficult when surrounded by grief, tragedy, and taxing societal expectations. But, by prioritizing self, you’ll minimize stress and avoid burnout. 

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