Burnout, exhaustion, fatigue. These were the old terms used to refer to a psychologically tired person, with reflections of this wear and tear on the functioning of their organism. Today this condition is usually diagnosed as Burnout Syndrome, which earlier this year was recognized as an occupational disease and included in the new International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). There are still countless cases of depression, anxiety and other emotional disorders triggered by the fast pace of the famous “Information Age” – or “Age of Fatigue”.
If before society already felt overwhelmed by the accumulation of tasks, the multiple journey between home, work, studies and little time for leisure, today, with hyperconnectivity, the professional, social and family environment has become poorly defined.
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The Ministry of Health defines Burnout Syndrome or Professional Exhaustion Syndrome as “an emotional disorder with symptoms of extreme exhaustion, stress and physical exhaustion resulting from exhausting work situations, which demand a lot of competitiveness or responsibility”.
The Health area may have been able to conceptualize the problem. The challenge now lies with society: companies that need problem-solving professionals and, at the same time, are subject to developing this or other similar problems. For the Labor Court, the subject is also new, forcing lawyers and the judiciary itself to review concepts related to workers’ mental health.
In 2015, the world population spent, on average, 6 hours and 20 minutes connected. In 2021 the time went to 7 hours a day. Whether for work or entertainment, Brazilians are at the top of the ranking among the most connected populations in the world, with a daily average of more than 10 hours. Only in the Philippines does the population spend more time online. The account belongs to the report Digital Global Overview Reportcarried out in partnership with the Hootsuite and the We Are Social.
Excessive smartphone use – and automatically full-time availability – is harmful to mental health. According to the Brazilian Association of Psychiatry (ABP), something that can create physical, emotional and social problems.
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert about the increase in cases of anxiety and depression disorders, noting that this would impact the corporate world due to absences. The entity also highlighted the importance of companies adopting initiatives that promote the physical and psychological well-being of their employees.
The WHO study estimated that depressive and anxiety disorders generate productivity losses estimated at US$ 1 trillion and that directly impact the global economy.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, the impacts on the mental health of workers around the world have been even more damaging. In Brazil alone, the Special Secretariat for Social Security and Work recorded 576,000 leave grants for mental and behavioral disorders in 2020. An increase of 26% over the previous year.
MINDFULNESS AND NEUROSCIENCE
If in the corporate environment and in life in society it is no longer possible to give up the advantages provided by technology, it is possible to promote practices that contribute to dealing with stress and increasing productivity. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs – including Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, and Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google – have included mindfulness in their routines, an ancient practice inspired by Buddhism and Taoism.
Mindfulness is a state of mind characterized by full attention to the activities being performed. Something that requires training to give results. Like North American companies, the technique has been spreading among adepts and corporations all over the world, including Brazil, seeking quality of life without giving up the attractions of modern life.
And the results of mindfulness have piqued the interest of scientists. According to the American Association for Mindfulness Research (AMRA), in 2015 there were already 624 scientific studies on the topic. To understand the impacts of practice, researchers use neuroimaging tests, psychological scales and neurobiological assessments. In summary, neuroscience confirms the benefits of the technique from the analysis of which regions of the human brain are activated with practice.
Mindfulness reduces the levels of cortisol, the body’s stress-controlling hormone. The decrease improves sleep quality and slows down the cellular aging process, in addition to impacting the immune response, inflammatory processes and brain tissue structure.
Researchers at Harvard University identified that another sign of the effects of mindfulness on the human brain is the increase in the number of neurons in certain regions of the organ.
In addition to the scientific basis, the practical result has been attracting an increasing number of supporters of this type of initiative to improve productivity, concentration and quality of life.
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