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More than one third of working Canadians are feeling burnt out: study

Mental health

A new study shows, nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a third of working Canadians say they feel a sense of burnout.

“We’re basically designed to handle acute, short-term stressors,” says Halifax-based psychologist Dr. Dayna Lee-Baggley.

“We’re not great at these kind of chronic, long-term stressors.”

The research, which was commissioned by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, points to five industries experiencing burnout at a higher rate than the national average.

  • Health and patient care: 53 per cent
  • Transportation: 40 per cent
  • Finance, legal and insurance: 39 per cent
  • Education: 38 per cent
  • First responders: 36 per cent

“The elements that are usually present with burnout are emotional exhaustion,” says Mary Ann Baynton of Workplace Strategies for Mental Health.

“That we just become more cynical about people, and that our productivity and our performance is affected at work.”

The numbers are more alarming within health and patient care. Mental health professionals reported a burnout rate of 61 per cent and nurses 66 per cent – statistics the president of the Canadian Nurses Association calls “staggering” but not surprising.

“Before the pandemic, nurses were already reporting that they were having symptoms of burnout,” says Tim Guest.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve just seen a significant deterioration of that.”

So what can be done to treat burnout?

“Part of the intervention and the evidence-based intervention is that the antidote to burnout isn’t rest,” says Dr. Lee-Baggley.

“It’s actually re-igniting a sense of meaning and purpose and reconnecting with things that are important.”

Baynton says the key is to find things that “fill you up” and then purposefully add them into your life.

“You won’t want to, because you’re trying to hard just to keep up,” says Baynton.

“But take that step back, and start to look for who and what can give you energy.” Top Stories

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