Many Millennials have lived through a global pandemic, an economic recession, rising rents/home prices, and rampant inflation all before the age of 35. It’s no surprise that stress, burnout, and exhaustion have become familiar concepts in our day-to-day lives.
According to Mayo Clinic, the factors that cause burnout are a perceived lack of control, lack of fairness, lack of extrinsic reward, and of course, being overworked. Harvard Business Review found that 28% of millennials report feeling constantly burnt out at work, and 45% report feeling sometimes burnt out.
The Relationship between Financial Insecurity and Burnout
It’s common knowledge that one of the major causes of burnout and stress is financial insecurity. It should come as no surprise given the rising cost of living. In October 2021, The Wall Street Journal wrote an article linking overspending to exhaustion essentially stating that “burnout has a cost — a dollar cost”. That same year Forbes writer Lindsay Kohler, attempted to explain the causes of burnout and answer the question “does money mitigate burnout?”.
Burnout, if left unaddressed, can lead to time off work or unemployment which in turn harms the financial worth of a person. On top of these, burnout can also lead to poor money choices and overspending, be it retail therapy, expensive short-cuts, or neglecting saving goals.
It also flows the other way around. The drive for more money in turn encourages over-working and an increase in hustle culture which are all causes of burnout itself. The American Psychology Association found in their Stress in America Survey that 64% of Americans reported feeling stressed about money. If burnout impinges on financial worth and money issues are also a cause of burnout, what is the way out?
The pandemic led to millions of people being laid off and those who didn’t lose their jobs were overworked. Two years on and there hasn’t been a huge shift in our attitude toward the workplace as had been predicted and employees and people are fed up with the hustle culture as is evident by the great resignation.
The Problem with Hustle Culture?
Hustle culture is the mentality that one must work all day every day to make it. It’s also referred to as grind culture or burnout culture. This ideology has swept through social media and the zeitgeist in recent years as we are bombarded with motivational quotes for success or glamor or busyness. While it was born out of a desire for success, and to pursue our passions on the side, the concept now has toxic undertones that can lead to over-working, high-stress levels, and blurred lines between work and play.
Can Money Cure Burnout?
In the article “Can money cure my burnout” Refinery29 Journalist Hannah Rimm spent $10,000 dollars in one week to see if it would alleviate her burnout and boost her mood. Rimm found that unsurprisingly spending this much money on self-care did in fact have the desired effect. But did it last? Evidently not. Because “In what world does it make sense to work people to a state of extreme burnout only to charge them their yearly salary to feel any kind of relief?”. It doesn’t seem to matter how many hair masks or downward dogs we do – the stress and pace of everyday life will catch up with us eventually.
According to SHRM magazine, research has found a correlation between income, and how it directly impacts job satisfaction. While other studies have found that 80% of workers favor employee ‘perks’ over a salary increase, most of us would agree that getting paid more nearly always feels good.
So What are Long-term Solutions to Burnout?
Is the simplest solution to burnout more money? Not really. Ultimately, Burnout is a symptom of our fast-paced, productivity-obsessed society. The answer doesn’t lie in radical retreats or expensive self-care regimes, and it definitely doesn’t have to entail a two-year sabbatical. Productivity isn’t the devil, but we sometimes use it to avoid facing our true emotions, anxieties, and responsibilities.
All hope is not lost. There are some things we can do that can offset and help us manage our burnout.
Set Working and Resting Boundaries
Being always ‘on’ isn’t an effective approach to productivity because our brains need time to rest. We need to relax and enjoy our free time. One of the top contributors to burnout is over-work, so put boundaries in place. Set specific hours and times for each task and take breaks. If you don’t take breaks you will overwork yourself and lose productivity.
Save your F*** Off Fund
A big part of burnout stems from money anxieties and job insecurity. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to overcome financial worries is to face them head-on. Knowing that you have backup money for emergencies or a rainy day will ease the “hustle-culture” mentality. Set monthly goals of how much you want to save and make it achievable and worthwhile to avoid adding further financial pressure.
Indulge in Cheap Treats
Find something you enjoy that doesn’t require a lot of money. Enthrall yourself in a hobby or free-time activity that isn’t going to break the bank so that you can relax and re-energize without the financial pressure. Invite a friend over for tea, go for a long walk, or plant herbs. Anything that won’t break the bank but helps you disconnect from work and anxieties will suffice. Sometimes luxurious brunches or beach get-aways leave us feeling even more drained and worried because they sap our bank accounts.
Deal with the Underlying Issue
Ask yourself, why am I really feeling burnt out? Is it a stressful atmosphere at work, too much connectivity, and screentime, or simply money anxiety? Whatever it is, there are always small steps to take to overcome these route issues. It could involve speaking to your boss about a change of team, a pay raise, or perhaps you could put your phone on flight mode for a couple of hours each evening. Identify the source, and find a small way to begin to overcome it.
Keep Track of your Health and Energy-Levels
It’s no secret that stress has a detrimental effect on our health. To avoid burnout it’s important for us to take stock of our energy and know when we need a break. Drinking water, exercising, and leading a healthy lifestyle are practices we are familiar with but don’t always treat with the same importance as deadlines or work projects. Incorporating these vital and straightforward practices can keep us in tune with our bodies and can help to prevent burnout.