It’s official - there’s only five months left of 2020…
We applaud all the business owners, employees and freelancers (not to mention people like yourself) that have been holding it together all this time, especially with there being another drama hitting the world each month since COVID’s appearance earlier in the year.
Most of the world is in disbelief praying the year doesn’t get any worse.
Quarantine memes covering Twitter, TikTok and Instagram are users’ hilarious takes on the apocalyptic lifestyle they and all of us have quickly been forced to become accustomed to, but in all honesty, mental health along with physical health during this time is of the utmost importance. Deep down the situation across the world is affecting people in a new and deeply unsettling way, with mental health facilities and support systems being grossly underprepared for the onslaught of demand.
The unstable economy and world at large is more than enough to invoke anxiety, but what happens when on top of all that, you’re struggling to keep your business alive? Or working in a company that you can’t see surviving beyond the year?
Burnout has been a serious topic amongst startups long before COVID-19 hit, but few have discussed the knock-on effect of one to the other now, and how (realistically) you can avoid it, reverse it and educate yourself on signs indicating its presence.
We at Found8 have decided to address it, gathering expert insights from CEO and Co-founder of WOOSH5 Asia, Chan Hock Lye and our incredible Found8 members to get a deeper understanding on how burnout is affecting the lives of people across different industries, and helpful tips on how you can avoid it yourself.
WOOSH5 is an online platform for building personal resilience, specially designed and backed by science with one-on-one coaching. They believe “resilience building” impacts all areas of your life; work, relationships, and daily life all benefit from increased mental resilience. Chan Hock Lye has over 30 years’ experience managing business across Asia, in the mining, engineering and technology industries, and has successfully implemented transformational programs that build on the mindset change of individuals.
What is burnout?
The term burnout comes with a fair amount of stigma especially in the startup world where little sleep, long hours and full dedication is unknowingly encouraged across companies. According to the WHO, burnout is classified as an “occupational phenomenon”, a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions:
feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
reduced professional efficacy.
Have you felt any of these over the last few months??
Burnout is not a sign of weakness but rather a point of total and utter exhaustion as a result of the environment the employee or business owner is in. Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post, had her personal wake-up call in the form of a shattered cheekbone and a gash over her eye as a result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep due to stressors from work. Burnout is no longer something we can avoid - whatever area or level of business we’re in.
We Asked: What were your signs of over-stressing or burnout?
Hock Lye observed that as people work from home, the line between work and rest becomes blurred as their work and personal life merges. As a result, working hours elapsed and people began experiencing anxiety, breakdowns and more.
“On some days, I feel less motivated to work. During the lockdown, I noticed physical symptoms come up, like stomach aches or difficulty going to sleep - that's when I realised I was experiencing anxiety.” - Sabrina Ooi, Customer Success Manager APAC, AB Tasty
“I occasionally experience anxiety due to pent-up stress or negative feelings from working longer hours at home.” - Suchitra Kumar, Fighter Pilot, Enginemailer
“When I’m feeling burnt out, I’m simply not in the game to do anything right.” - Hock Lye, WOOSH5 Asia
We Asked: How do you take care of your well-being to prevent exhaustion and feelings of burnout?
“I feel that different environments put me in a different emotion. To get myself going I would head to a cafe with my laptop, and I hit the gym to destress and take care of my physical health.” - Shaun Yap, Member Success & Community Manager, Found8
“I set aside time on weekends for self-care, doing activities such as journaling, practicing yoga, and meditation. On regular days, I have a morning routine of writing down a list of things I’m grateful for.” -Sabrina Ooi, Customer Success Manager APAC, AB Tasty
“Religion is my pillar. Prayers help me to relax and find peace. While in solitude I find things to be grateful for and journal them down.” - Fatin Fatah, Digital Marketing Executive, Fundnel
Hock Lye emphasises on the importance for individuals to have self-awareness and sensitivity to recognise signs of burnout and when we’re reaching that point. Personally, he practices yoga and religious rituals to cultivate peacefulness. With the combination of increased workload, isolation, and global panics, different people react with different states of emotions and deal with them using various methods.
We Asked: How do we be sensitive towards teammates? Have you ever received support from others that helped you?
We all go through good and bad days after months of remote working. How can we be there for others when they need support, when we’re unable to interact physically?
“Work-life integration is something we have practiced since day one as a hybrid-remote team. That really means two-way trust and communication to better manage expectations and increase understanding towards teammates and help them cope with the many hats they wear in life. Whether it’s focusing on personal growth, caring for their physical or mental health, home care, young kids or elder care whilst working, all these require a measure of flexibility.
Once, when a colleague called me sounding distressed, I decided to pick her up and have some time in-person with her. Being there for one another matters. Life is more than just about work, we’re humans too.” - Mei Lum, Co-founder, MWKA Technologies
“Although I had intentions to leave my job, I got let go at the beginning of the MCO period. I was going through a rough time but an acquaintance reached out to me and lent a listening ear by empathising with my unemployment. The concern she showed just by taking time to listen and care was comforting.” - Fatin Fatah, Digital Marketing Executive, Fundnel
You’re Stronger Than You Think
Gaining support through social connections is one of the most effective ways to improve our mental and physical wellbeing. After all, humans are social creatures and the more interactions we have can help ease the overwhelming feelings of burnout.
With his experiences in helping people overcome challenges and build mental resilience to deal with mental pressures from both work and home, Hock Lye provides us with these essential tips:
Embrace your feelings. Visualise them as external to yourself, observe and acknowledge particular emotions.
Share and speak out any issues to family, friends, anyone who offers to be a listening ear.
Keep yourself motivated with activities to your liking to help maintain work-life balance.
Find more help in our Found8 Resource Pack.
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