July 25, 2022

The Burnout Epidemic

A woman having a cup of tea before the float therapy
In 2020 burnout became rampant, seemingly overnight.

Burnout has become an epidemic in our modern, 24/7, device driven, fast paced world.

It may come as a surprise, or seem a logical conclusion, that the people most at risk of experiencing burnout are women and “good people”.


In February 2021, the Harvard Business Review published an article ‘Beyond Burned Out’, stating:

“In our always-on world, burnout has long been a threat. But in 2020 burnout became rampant, seemingly overnight.”


What we now call ‘burnout’ is not a new concept. In 300 AD, one of the first records of the condition was known as ‘acedia’ among monks in Egypt. After long, dutiful, selfless service, monks found they would lack care, lose their pleasure in life and faith in God. Back then, it was known as the 8th cardinal sin.


It wasn’t until more recent years, in comparison, when in 1974 American psychologist, Herbert Freudenberger coined the term after recognising it within patients at a drug addiction centre. He then came to experience the syndrome himself and share his story.


Signs and Symptoms

The clinical understanding of burnout has evolved, and is now recognised by three key symptoms:

  1. Exhaustion
  2. A lack of feeling. People report feeling tuned out, a lack of joy and insular.
  3. Cognitive problems, such as not registering information as well as before.


In addition to these main factors, people experiencing burnout also report “lack”. A lack of energy, of pleasure and of sleep. Sleep disturbance is a common symptom, despite exhaustion, as well as mental health problems like anxiety, depression and irritability. Immune and defences can be compromised, evident in signs of oral infections.

Burnout can build slowly for some, or for others come on quite abruptly. In her book, Ariana Huffington tells of her experience of burnout happening very acutely, causing her to suddenly fall and hit her head on the way to the ground.


Always On

While burnout goes back a long way, our current lifestyles and societal norms are fuelling an epidemic. Our 24/7 demands are the biggest factor implicated in the cause of burnout. We’re more addicted and reliant on devices and being constantly connected in the digital world.

Data shows 30% of workers will experience burnout, which is higher for more demanding professions, such as doctors, of which 60% will experience burnout through their career.

This pattern is the same among people with home care pressures, in particular those with high need demands such as caring for a child with a disability or elderly parents, or both.

As well as the caring responsibility, there are modern day expectations to hold down a job, be a home keeper, a spouse, always being on call, on devices and available; which means women are often more at risk of burnout.

There is also a predisposing personality type identified as more likely to burnout, and that’s “good people”. Those of us who are caring, responsible, reliable, dutiful and possibly perfectionistic, dedicating their efforts to care for others or go above and beyond at work.



Softening burnout requires a two-part approach. Firstly, to look at the causes of burnout – what factors at work, home, lifestyle or even personality traits are loading undue pressure and beginning to manage or eliminate them.

Secondly, people who recover from burnout report actions that relax and switch off, like taking a break or holiday, exercise, counselling or psychological support, mindfulness and meditation are successful.

Lifestyle adjustments is the pathway out of burnout and literature suggests mindfulness and meditation are probably the best strategies to incorporate into your life.

*Source below


Float Therapy

The science is clear, floatation therapy has a positive effect on bringing levels of stress down, mental health, enhancing mindfulness as well as physical and mental recovery.

The effects on the brain are helpful in lowering cortisol, switching on our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode), improving anxiety disorders and it offers the opportunity to disconnect from life pressures, devices and the outside world for mindfulness practice.


Find out more about floatation therapy in Perth at Float Lab, with three locations in the metropolitan area.


Rest. Recover. Recharge.



* Professor Gordon Parker AO, Founder of the Black Dog Institute and Head of the School of Psychiatry at UNSW as well as Director of the Division of Psychiatry at Prince of Wales Hospital.


His research focuses on mood disorders, with over 1,000 scientific reports and 23 books published, one of those is ‘Burnout: A Guide to Identifying Burnout and Patterns to Recovery’.