Sshhhhh! Don't talk about burnout!

Living and working and Switzerland has got its load of benefits, we all know it. And this is the country where people choose to stay longer at work in the evening, avoid making plans over the weekend in case they need to work a little more. They even refuse to get more holidays!



Talking about a burnout in Switzerland is still very controversial as we live in a culture that fears failure. If you had the chance to live in Geneva, a city made of bankers, lawyers, traders...you'd see that working hard is the only option if you want to fit in.



The city is vibrant with lively bars where loyal customers meet every day after work hours, the energy is incredible as it seems that the majority of the active population here is attractive 30-somethings coming from all over the world. The adrenaline at Baroque on a Tuesday night, the dancing bars at Maison Hobo on Wednesdays and let's not forget Bottle Brothers, Maison Balkii on Thursdays - the best nights in town.


And if you spend your days up in Gstaad, Verbier, Crans Montana, summer weekends in Saint Tropez, party trips in Ibiza or Mykonos... You are most likely to come across the same faces again and again in any of these places.


That's the life that you see in Geneva, the livelihood of young professionals fast tracking their way up in their career, the bolds and the beauties, the ones who never seem to get tired.


But do they? It appears that maintaining your status in such environments means working up to 50 hours a week, leaving work late, being ready to take in any work that is given without saying no.


The appraisal for achievement and performance that people grow up with has created a culture of perfectionism and non-acceptance of failure. A shield that people use so they wouldn't be seen, and behind which they would hide their exhaustion, anxiety and vulnerability. Talking aout burnout is taboo.


Burn out happens when you avoid being human for too long

In 2019, I went through a burnout. And I couldn't even admit it to myself, let alone admitting it to my manager whom I surprised with a sudden resignation letter. I couldn't say my job was driving me to a burnout. I had the best job and the best team.


But what brought me to a breakdown was how much I was putting up with everything else, year after year. Bullying when I was in middle school, moving cities and having to make new friends almost every year, financing my own studies in a prestigious school for 4 years, parents divorcing, failed relationships. . . the list goes on. I bottled up all my fears and emotions to keep up with social life and manage a career.


I think I forgot to be human in that moment. I couldn't allow myself to show weakness.


How did it feel?


I felt exhausted, angry at the smallest things in life. I didn't want to commit to anything new as it felt overwhelming. I was sleep deprived. I didn't want to look into the things that made me feel uneasy or uncomfortable as that meant I needed to deal with my emotions. I wanted to break free, and to be given the possibility to feel free.


In January 2019, I took a long break to go traveling. That was the only way for me to disconnect from everything that was wearing me down. I needed to go as far as possible, alone. So eventually I faced myself everyday. I let it all out and I found my balance right before coming back to give this fight another go.


The challenge of keeping balance in life ins't easy. Sometimes, it can appear as a real struggle. But it is a choice that we can make. We can either pull the string and go all in or all out, or work through the ups and downs to keep standing. However, it requires a deep contemplation into what's brought us to that breaking point.


Although the World Health Organization defines burnout as "a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed", I can assure you that more often than not, it is a combination of many things that have not been managed correctly.


I lived my whole 20s chasing after other people's approval, measuring my self-worth with the things I was capable to accomplish in the public's eyes, how much I could work without getting tired and how composed I could be in any stressful situation.


You can do anything but not everything - David Allen

The very first sign of anyone heading to a burnout is a person who wants to do everything and be everything at once in their private, social and professional lives. The pressure they give to themselves and all the responsibility they willingly take upon their shoulders to prove that they can do it.


The world we live in today is fast paced, competitive and highly stressful. But it gives second chances, even third and fourth chances. But before you mess up your first chance, let's take a deep look into what it is that you are seeking for, when chasing after such goals!


One thing I'd like to remind you of is: there is always a point in life where you feel deeply overwhelmed. And before that point turns into a chronic stress and stops you from moving forward. That's the time to look at change. You can change before you have to. So don't wait until the boiling water pops the pan's cover.


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