Studies Suggest Work Burnout Causes Poor Financial Decision Making
Let’s begin by saying that there’s a stark difference between being tired and burned out. We’ve all been there when getting out of bed on a gloomy autumn day seems impossible and staying focused at a desk an insurmountable feat. Days like these are pretty standard. Burnout, however, is something different altogether.
Approximately 69% of Americans report that lower back pain affects their everyday lives, yet it often goes overlooked or left untreated. Burnout, which was formally recognized as an occupational phenomenon earlier this year by the World Health Organization, is something equally as real as back pain, but rarely dealt with properly. Or at all.
“In a nutshell, burnout is a syndrome brought on from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed,” explained Kat Hounsell, founder of everyday people, an organization that focuses on making work a healthier place for body and mind.
Companies estimate that 80% of their workload will be stored in the cloud by 2020, but stats like that leave out the fact that 100% of that workload is still managed by human beings in one sense or another. Something that, in many cases, can be overwhelming. Burnout differs from stress in that burnout truly occurs when becomes a chronic health issue. This, of course, is a combined number of unrelenting stressors barraging a person from all angles. Some research has found that beyond burnout being terrible for a person physically, mentally, and emotionally, it can also have some financial ramifications.
One of the big ones is the ease of modern convenience through technology. Coupled with high-stress and occupational burnout, paying for convenience is almost reflexive at this point. We’re not saying that you should deprive yourself of all convenience and live cloistered in a sort of monastic financial structure. Still, burnout, exhaustion, and stress make it much more tempting to order GrubHub for lunch and dinner five days per week. Or spend purely because you’re too exhausted to move after work is done.
Another is spending as a coping mechanism. We’ve all heard the term treat yourself and it goes far beyond a social media trend. Not including mortgages, the average American is in about $38,000 in debt and the way we act toward financial stress is a particular type of fiscal cynicism.
“You might think: I already have student loans and credit card debt and my rent is half my income so I might as well go out and eat because what difference will it really make?” says Theresa Stevens, a financial coach at Declutter Your Money in Rhode Island.
From coping to convenience, burnout has a way of telling us that we can assuage that feeling with frivolous expenses. Perhaps smaller expenses seem minuscule, but as burnout grows more intense, so may the scale of treating yourself. It can be a slippery slope and in no way is it actually an effective treatment method for burnout. The WHO endorses acupuncture for more than 200 different symptoms and diseases, with stress being among them. From acupuncture to seeing a therapist, it’s important to seek treatment and healthy ways to manage burnout. These will always differ from person to person, so it’s helpful to realize that someone else’s method of burnout management may not work for you, and vice versa.
Burnout doesn’t have to be something you deal with alone. Help is there and lots of workplaces have programs in place to help cope with stress, whether it be in the workplace or not. In 2016, more than 27% of patients in the United States reported visiting urgent care centers in the previous two years. From minor cuts to major injuries, they still went. It’s high time we started treating our mental and emotional health similarly because it’s not to be ignored.