Five techniques to build resilience

How do we avoid burnout in the workplace?

Why is burnout on the rise and what can we do to curb it? Organisational and performance psychologist Gemma Leigh Roberts believes ergomania is the problem.

Workaholism is so rife in our culture that even the office decor at the likes of WeWork demands us to ‘hustle harder’ and ‘don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done.’ But while the #ThankGodItsMonday work movement is growing, this kind of unrelenting toil is making workers unhealthy and can even kill.

Karoshi, the Japanese term for death from overwork, has made headlines multiple times in recent years. Closer to home, research by University College London of more than 85,000 middle-aged workers also found a correlation between overwork and heart problems. How did we get here?

Workaholism is nothing new, of course, but the advent of the gig economy and advances in technology give it new life. Any readers who have responded to work emails on their commute or while cooking dinner at home will recognise the pressure to be always-on.

Presenteeism has become the new normal and pushback against it is not often welcomed by companies. The introduction of a ‘right to switch off ‘ law for office workers in France, for instance, was met with mockery and disdain simply for wanting to curb this ergomania…


Five techniques to build resilience

In 2008, I began creating performances about sexual violence. Following the final dress of the first performance in 2008, a member of the ensemble raised his hand and said: ‘I feel like shit.’

He went on to discuss how the show was starting to influence his life outside of the rehearsal space. Other performers shared they had nightmares about being raped or reaching out to help someone in trouble only to see their hands turn to dust.

They were exhibiting signs of secondary trauma stress or vicarious trauma – something that happens when people take on others’ traumatic experiences. As a young twenty-something, I could not believe and that I had created a space for such harm to occur.

Since then, I have continued to create original interdisciplinary performances about sexual violence as well as work centered on shame and hate. I founded a company, Grey Box Collective, with a mission to only create work that tackles tough conversations. In addition to being an artist, I am a health and wellness educator…

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