The core symptom of burnout syndrome is emotional exhaustion, which leads to impaired functioning on the job. During workdays, we use and deplete mental resources. Accumulation of effort spent throughout the workday might result in increased feelings of sleepiness, lack of energy, psychological stress, and burnout.
Forty-two percent of U.S. women and 35% of U.S. men said they feel burned out often or almost always in 2021, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. report. Although mostly geared towards office-based workers, burnout also exists among blue-collar workers, too.
Importantly, burnout is not a medical diagnosis or a mental health condition—instead, the World Health Organization classifies it as an “occupational phenomenon.” But studies show that it can overlap with physical and mental health issues, including depression, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems and headaches. It can even be a predictor of chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, research shows.
Burnout is particularly common among medical professionals. As of September 2020, 76% of U.S. health care workers reported exhaustion and burnout, according to the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation. Even before the pandemic, between 35% and 54% of U.S. doctors and nurses reported symptoms of burnout.
Any person, in any profession, can experience burnout. Currently, people are reporting it in droves.
A recent work-study revealed beneficial effects of bright light exposure at eye level (light therapy) can improve employees’ alertness, vitality, and objective cognitive task performance, and influence physiological arousal measured with heart rate..
Bright light research has been shown to positively impact alertness, vitality, and performance and may thus counteract stress and fatigue by helping recover decreased mental resources. Additionally, studies of sufferers of seasonal affective disorders (SAD) and of healthy people show that energy levels can be improved by exposing them to natural bright light.