Emotional Health: How To Prevent And Cure Burnout In Your Startup Team
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the society has to deal not only with unexpected health or economic challenges but also with psychological issues. A year spent in lockdown has taught many to adapt to the new daily routine, although data of the State Patients Fund (SPF) suggests that the number of people seeking medical help because of depression and anxiety has increased by 10 percent compared to 2019. Health experts believe that these numbers are not accurate and could in fact be much higher as many people do not dare seeking medical help.
Mental health experts notice that the level of stress, anxiety, emotional distress and burnout during the pandemic has grown exponentially and is now taking its toll on the work of individual employees and on the overall corporate performance. Sicknesses of the working population cost the most for the society because on top of direct costs of treatment indirect costs of days on sick leave or lost productivity shall be added as well. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), development and implementation of mental health policies and occupational programmes is beneficial to the staff health, boosts corporate productivity and contributes to the wellbeing of the society.
The burnout syndrome is a problem of the modern times
“People work best when they feel at their best, are self-reliant, motivated, creative, able to focus and devote as much energy as is necessary for their job. It is for this reason that a growing number of organisations is looking for the ways how to help their staff to maintain a good emotional health” chief of human resources of CAST AI start-up Austėja Žymantaitė said.
One of the most acute problems currently faced by staff is emotional burnout. In particular, young employees are mostly vulnerable (aged 18–24) as they are much keener to overwork, do not have good time planning skills or a well-secured financial status.
“The burnout syndrome is a disease of highly responsible, empathic and sensitive people. These people do not afford themselves enough time to recuperate, as they can always discover some urgent tasks that need to be done at the expense of free time. I would like to stress that a person may sometimes fail to notice when it is time to slow down, which is why it is very important for the closest family members or colleagues to come to the rescue. Within our organisation we promote the culture of openness among our staff by encouraging people to speak up, not to hide emotions or anxiety, and to look for ways out of problematic situations or avoiding new ones. It is very important that our staff is aware that emotional health is not a topic to be ashamed of or to be stigmatised for”, A. Žymantaitė added.
The key symptoms of burnout are as follows: emotional exhaustion, long-lasting physical and emotional fatigue, sadness, disrupted self-esteem, lower satisfaction at work, cynicism, the sense of professional dissatisfaction. Doctors agree that the syndrome is a consequence of an extended period of emotional stress at work, which, if not diagnosed timely, may lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Possibilities of emotional health – on your smart phone
An increasing number of organisations in Lithuania are becoming aware of the importance of staff’s mental health and are taking various measures to facilitate good mental health. These measures can take the form of various psychological lectures or seminars offered to employees, or various workshops, or medical insurance policies covering consultations by a psychotherapist. Technological solutions are increasingly popular and so are various applications available on smart phones allowing to monitor your own emotional state and get access to help whenever and wherever you are.
A. Žymantaitė is happy to note that CAST AI staff is taking care of its own mental health with the help of Mindletic application. “The application suggests different techniques which allow predicting and preventing burnout, anxiety and may reduce stress regardless of the person’s location at the moment. With just a few clicks of a button application users can anonymously reflect on their emotions, receive exhaustive personal reports, make use of personalised recommendations given by psychologists that have been generated on the basis of emotions mentioned during the reflection, may educate themselves with the help of educational content and train their emotional muscle in the same way they train their body, i.e., in an individual training, within a community or with a certified psychologists at a private conversation.”
According to the author of the application Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė, in the face of the crisis there is a growing demand for togetherness, particularly on the emotional level: “We have developed a tool which helps to attain balance with yourself individually as well as brings together other people going through the same emotional state. Nowadays a larger part of the world is going through an unprecedented and unique situation. All emotions felt during this period will have one common denominator. We would like people to know that they are not alone in this situation and can offer them a safe environment to help them regain their balance.”
Ways for overcoming stress
I. Vaitkevičiūtė gave some advice that could help reduce work-related stress and avoid burnout:
- Physical activity. For many of us work has moved from office to home space, resulting in less movement and exercises by the majority of people. Nobody is expecting someone to run a marathon or learn some sophisticated yoga poses. It is recommended to spend at least thirty minutes every day walking outside or doing some exercises. Movement helps your body and mind to relax, and distracts from exhausting daily tasks dominating your day.
- Quality sleep. Our body needs time to rest and to recuperate, which makes healthy sleeping habits very important for your emotional state. It is recommended to avoid intake of fluids before sleep containing caffeine and alcohol, not to use your mobile phone in bed and to follow a daily routine of going to bed and waking up in at the same time, practice relaxation before sleep, such as medication, breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, and daily reflection.
- Self-observation. Try to observe your own emotions and various reactions, and take note of the situations that trigger them. As we observe our emotions we may identify certain recurrent situations, our behaviour, reactions, and by building on the observed behavioural trends decide which behaviour we would like to change and how we are going to regain our mental balance as we do it. It is our emotional balance, in particular, rather than short-lived moments of happiness that help us lead a unique, sustainable and more fulfilling life.
- Talk to others and do not be on your own. Sharing your personal emotions with others also helps us reflect on where I am today and where I would like to be tomorrow. People around you may help you reflect certain trends in your behaviour or simply create space for your personal self-reflection leading to later changes towards mental balance. Is it more often than not that it is easier to share your emotions with complete strangers, which makes such tools as Mindletic community rooms a safe space to look for answers to your questions, analyse your situations and look for like-minded people for self-development.