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Burnout: How to Keep the Candle Lit

Woman out in the dark with a candle

Feeling that end of year wave of exhaustion? You’re not alone!

While burnout can encroach on our lives no matter the week or month, it is no secret that the year finale is often stressful, and it’s a common feature in the lives of entrepreneurs, students and business people alike. Like other human experiences, it can be uncomfortable and unwelcome, but it is natural nonetheless. 

In essence, burnout can be understood as the loss of motivation and a growing sense of emotional depletion and cynicism. First coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, burnout remains more relevant than ever. 

Throughout the course of my undergraduate major in psychology at the University of Cape Town, we were warned of the fickleness of scientific terms that become caught up in the web of popular trends and theories, in other words ‘pop-psychology’. Some could contend that burnout is but one of the many psychological terms used too loosely in everyday conversations, but we think it’s worth unpacking a little bit more. 

Burnout is not just a state of mind nor a hollow term; it can have detrimental effects on our professional, physical and social well-being. It can stifle our professional career maturation and harm our social and physical functioning as humans. So much so, scientists have found that burnout can impair our cognitive skills and neuroendocrine systems to the extent that our brain anatomy and functioning can be altered. 

Whether it is considered as ‘pop-psychology’ or an urban myth, the psychological phenomenon of burnout has been considered an actual mental disorder under the classifications of the IDC–10, which is a go-to reference in the psychology world. That means that your doctor can diagnose you with burnout as a medical condition worth treatment. Not so trendy now… 

There are endless online sources that can assist you with feelings of demotivation and cynicism, especially when it is related to your professional life or educational career. Burnout is a monster that can be tamed and eradicated. I have no doubt that each of us has had our fair share of this monster, but it is how we go about dealing with it that matters.

As a recent Honours student, part-time marketing assistant at DAPPER and young adult with too few hours in the day to hang with friends, nail that personal hobby and catch up on some exercise, I too have had my fair share of burnout. However, when the monster peaked its head in my life, be it working on my thesis or preparing for a big client meeting, I drew on the DAPPER way of life

Understanding yourself better and gaining clarity on your purpose in this world are one of the many tools to deal with burnout. When I felt at my lowest with motivation and doubt I reflected on my reasons for my academic and professional career, and just life in general. To understand my purpose meant that I could rekindle that flame. Two of our DAPPER values are to Create Space and Stay True, and this was what I pursued when in the face of burnout. All in the name of reaching the destination of our third value, to Be Brilliant

If you find yourself drawn to our values and approach to life, or are just itching to tame that monster, you’re in the right place. Our human brand studio and products are crafted to match the values we hold near and dear. In other words, DAPPER understands the humanness of life, be it a wave of success or a dip of cynicism. It is the ups and downs of life that make us human. We work with each client to distil their purpose and give them the tool kit to own their story, in an authentic way that is aligned to their values. But I’m getting sidetracked… the crux of this article is that yes, burnout is a horrid and hostile encounter we have to face at certain points in life, but it doesn’t need to be done alone. 

I’d like to finish with the words of my friend and boss Emma Donovan, who once said, “I want to build a life I don’t need a holiday from, but then take lots of them anyway! It’s about being intentional about each day, what you can take on, and making sure there is space to breathe, think, create and explore.”

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