By Dr Adam Castricum
Frequently, we are motivated to follow our passion, with the promise that and "work will never feel like work". Waking up every day and engaging in something you love seems like an ideal scenario. However, what occurs when you have dedicated significant time and achieved success in your pursuit? What happens when you wake up feeling drained, having lost that initial fizz? How do you manage with three young kids clamouring for attention, bills to pay, mouths to feed and parties to go to?
Where do we go next?
According to the 2019 report from the World Health Organisation (WHO), "Burnout"; is characterized as a syndrome arising from persistent workplace stress that hasn't been effectively addressed.
It is identified by three key elements:
1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion,
2) an increased sense of mental distance from one's job, or a surge of negativity or cynicism associated with one's work, and
3) a decline in professional effectiveness.
The term "Burnout"; is exclusively related to work-related issues and should not be used to describe experiences in other aspects of life. In the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), Burnout is acknowledged as an occupational phenomenon, not as a medical condition. The recognition of burnout in the workplace is on the rise. A recent report from Unispace Global Workspace Insights, highlights that workers in New Zealand are more susceptible to burnout compared to the global average (70% versus 59%). This is primarily driven by excessive workload expectations (50%), closely followed by the pressure for employees to maintain a constant online presence even at home (38%). Burnout has been identified as a leading cause of diminished work output and performance, increased irritability, conflicts, recurring illnesses, absenteeism, and, if left unaddressed, the potential development of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It can affect individuals across all professions and at any stage of their careers.
Notably, those involved in purpose-driven work, which individuals are deeply passionate about, are at a heightened risk of burnout due to the potential cultivation of obsessive passion. Leaders in particular face an elevated risk, as they are often expected to work long hours to achieve success and demonstrate to their staff that persistence at work, despite physical and mental health challenges, is crucial for success. As a doctor in the caregiving health sector, I, too am exposed to an increased risk of burnout, compounded by my deep passion for my profession and my commitment to helping patients achieve their life goals. Not surprisingly, this has happened to me a few times, in my career as a Sport and Exercise Physician.
The first time I did not know it was happening, nor how to manage it. It was a “rite of passage” to become a medical specialist. The next time, it crept up and overwhelmed me. Luckily, I had a strong support network to get me through. I also set about establishing my own personal self-care plan which I still adhere to and have shared with organisations I work with. Moving to Queenstown and all her natural wonder has also helped immensely. Now, when I detect my enthusiasm for my work and my patients diminish, I know exactly what to do.
I consider myself fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who understand the challenges of burnout and have cultivated an environment that works to prevent it. By the end of each workday, I want to have dedicated my utmost to both my profession and my patients. I aspire to create more quality time for my loved ones and friends. At the beginning of each workday, I want to awaken with a sense of rejuvenation, prepared for personal adventures, my family, social interactions and patient care. It is only then that I can confront the day and any obstacle with the requisite passion and commitment necessary for excellence.
Adam's passion lies in sports and physical activity, championing them to enhance the physical and mental well-being of the entire community, spanning all life stages. His goal is to help individuals, whether they are elite athletes or sedentary individuals striving to embark on a healthier, more gratifying life journey, reach their objectives in a safe, enjoyable, and health-conscious manner. Equally, he is devoted to enhancing health outcomes for indigenous populations, as well as those living in regional and remote areas.
Adam delivered an interactive session that delved into tactics for recognising burnout and explores methods to enhance one's mental and physical well-being through self-care practices, which encompass movement and exercise, sleep, nutrition, mindfulness, better time management and fostering connections.