Alice's Evidence

Alice’s Evidence

Last week was World Mental Health Day and I published a very honest interview between myself, my friend and my flatmate. However, I did not address the specific purpose of this year’s day, which was focused on mental health in the workplace. Although we might see full time employment as a distant future – I almost vomit whenever someone says I’m nearly half way through my degree – many of the strains affecting those working, including: stress, exhaustion and feeling burnt out, are exceptionally relatable to students.

Susan Scott, an esteemed best-selling author, psychologist, mind and body expert and nutritionist, commissioned the snapshot survey: ‘Stressed, Exhausted and Burning Out – should we really be treating our future talent like this?’. This is about Young Professionals (ages ranging from 21-32) to compliment the launch of her second book ‘How to Prevent Burnout’. I’ve been lucky enough to secure a copy so I shall provide a review in due course.

It was an anonymous web survey of 127 Young Professionals, including 92 females and 35 males. They answered questions on a 1-5 scale, 1 being low and 5 being high.

Below is the table showing her results:

Question

Results for each option in percentages

Question 1:
How many days have you taken off due to stress, in the last two years?

None

54%

1-5

30%

6-10

4%

11-10

6%

21+

6%

Question 2:
How close do you feel you are to burning out? (Score from 1 to 5 where 1 is ‘Not at all’ and 5 is ‘I’m burnt out’)

1 (Not at all)

2%

2

26%

3

34%

 

4

30%

 

5 (Burnt out)

9%

Question 7:
Overall, how well does your line manager support your wellbeing? (Score from 1 to 5 where 1 is ‘Not at all’ and 5 is ‘Wonderfully well’)

1 (Not at all)

17%

2

24%

3

36%

4

17%

5 (Well)

6%

Question 8:
On average, how many hours a week do you spend working? (include office and home time)?

29 or less

4%

30-39

12%

 

40-49

39%

 

50-59

25%

 

60+

20%

 

Question 9:
To what degree is stress affecting your performance at work? (Score from 1 to 5 where 1 is ‘Not at all’ and 5 is ‘It’s badly affected”)

1 (Not at all)

12%

2

30%

3

34%

4

20%

5 (Badly)

4%

Question 3:
What is currently most stressing you out? (Pick one)

Top 3:

1. Work demands and pressures (35%)

2. Money worries (26%)

3. Health worries (18%)

Question 4:
Which of these behaviours most accurately describes you? (Pick one)

Top 3:

1. Highly self-critical (38%)

2. Perfectionist (16%)

3. Highly driven (14%)

Question 5:
What are the signs you’re experiencing stress? (Pick all that apply)

Top 3:

1. Difficulty sleeping (69%)

2. Irritable (64%)

3= Lack of energy and feeling exhausted (54%)

3= Deteriorating health (54%)

Question 6:
What do you do to manage or reduce your stress? (Pick all that apply)

Top 3:

1. Exercise (58%)

2. Meet with friends (44%)

3. Eat well (38%)

(sourced from: Snapshot Survey of Young Professionals: Stressed, Exhausted and Burning Out – should we really be treating our future talent like this? By Susan Scott, August 2017)

I don’t know about you, but not only do I highly empathise with the factors causing their stress, and the subsequent effects, but I am also astonished at how many are struggling, and coming close to burning out, and how little support they feel they have.

I didn’t write this article to scare you all sh*tless, I mean, I won’t deny when I saw 20% were working 60+ hour weeks my 9am lectures suddenly felt less horrific.

I just think it’s important to highlight that at any stage in your life, whether it’s at university or when you’re working, you might think that everything is getting a bit much, but, as the survey shows, you are far from alone in feeling this.

If you think you’re also under a lot of pressure at university, Susan offers some very sound advice on how to prevent burning out:

Top 10 Tips to prevent burnout

  1. Be mindful of your physical, mental and emotional being. Listen to what your body is telling you and take regular health checks.

  2. Identify the source of your stress and address it as a priority. If that’s difficult, keep a stress diary and learn what your triggers are.

  3. Eat well and regularly. Eat foods that build your strength and resilience such as good quality protein, wholegrains and vegetables, and keep well hydrated with water.

  4. Exercise regularly. It rebalances the effects of high levels of stress hormones and makes you feel happier and more positive.

  5. Take regular breaks from intense work. Our body clock works in cycles and regularly seeks recovery time. Take a ten-minute break every hour.

  6. Manage digital technology. Social media, emails, computers, phones sap your time and impact your sleeping patterns. Take back control.

  7. Do everything you can to get a good night’s sleep. Just one broken night triggers the stress response.

  8. Learn to say no. You don’t have to say yes to anything you do not have the capacity to fulfil. Prioritise your life. What is important now and what can you put aside for another time?

  9. Have fun and laugh. It’s the best medicine. This means spending time with family and friends.

  10. If you need it, get help. Things can’t always be solved alone. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You are in this situation because of how hard you work.

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