Burnout has become a buzzword in recent years, especially when COVID-19 and lockdowns struck. People started talking about burned-out health care professionals, about job and parental burnout.
The term “burnout” was coined in the 1970s to describe the consequences of high levels of stress and extreme commitment in “helping” professions such as doctors, nurses and teachers. Nowadays the term has expanded to describe anyone put under extreme pressure, to the point they feel spread too thin and unable to cope.
This work-related fatigue is familiar to founders struggling to wear too many hats. Nick is one of such founders. Having started his company, he tried to keep everything under his control: hiring new people, attending all Zoom meetings his team had, solving customers’ problems, going to offline conferences to represent his company.
After 2 years of working over 60 hours a week, Nick felt depleted. The project he was so passionate about, didn’t bring him joy anymore. The deadlines caused anxiety. What’s worse, his stressful lifestyle started taking a toll on his physical health. Fortunately, he realized that he needed to make a sustainable change. He started with prioritizing, healthy diet and sleep habits, and no-phone days, and it helped him gradually recover.
A lot of working parents found themselves exhausted and struggling during Covid lockdowns as they had to juggle professional and family responsibilities while the boundaries between work and life became increasingly blurred. One doesn't even need to be a working parent to suffer from burnout: a lot of stay-at-home mums experience parental burnout as it’s easy to become physically and mentally overwhelmed when you take care of your kids 24/7.
The World Health Organization recognized burnout as an occupational health issue only in 2019. Sweden is the only country in the world to recognize burnout as a disease, and in Sweden it is a common cause for sick leave. Sweden’s generous healthcare system allows employees diagnosed with an exhaustion disorder to take paid sick leave. Such employees will receive approximately 80% of their salary during their sick leave which can last up to a year!