Dealing with the Boreout Syndrome

Photo: zetbusiness.com/boreout

I am sure a majority of us are aware of the burnout syndrome. It is rooted in chronic stress, usually at the workplace, that causes energy depletion, exhaustion, feelings of negativism, and detachment from work. According to the Employee Wellness Report, (2022), as reported by Free Malaysia Today (FMT) on May 12th, 2022, “58% of workers agree feeling burnt out from their work in the last three months”. More often than not, burnout syndrome can be spotted as the symptoms are physical. Well, basically, you fall sick and your body forces you to rest indefinitely because you failed to schedule rest time for yourself. Rookie mistake…

Let me introduce you to the evil twin of the burnout syndrome – the boreout syndrome. Coming to think of it, I cannot be entirely sure if one is any lesser evil than the other.

The boreout syndrome is slightly more dangerous as it creeps into you silently. Boredom happens when work becomes mundane to the point that it feels meaningless or devoid of value to you. employee. Apparently, chronic boredom leads to mental and physical exhaustion as you are not feeding your body and soul the stimulation it needs. Of course, it does not mean that one has to be up and running all the time at work, but chronic boredom needs equal attention as its workaholic cousin that has been linked to early retirement intentions, poor self-rated health, and stress symptoms.

Nowadays, when I come across articles on this, it shakes me up a little bit. At first, I was amused by the whole thing. However, soon realization hit me that I may be dealing with the boreout syndrome myself. Feeling bored at work occasionally is fine, but what do you do when you repeat tasks day after day without feeling any sense of achievement or excitement? Have you ever struggled to answer when someone asks about your day, well, because you do not remember anything worthwhile to say?

In my opinion, one should not normalize the symptoms of boreout by downplaying it with the usual voice in our head that says, “Well, at least I still have a job!”. My privilege might be showing a little too much when I say this, but chronic boredom should be taken seriously as well as it also leads to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and physical ailments including prolonged body aches, joint pains, inflammation, and others.

I think the first step in dealing with boreout syndrome is to acknowledge it. You just have to stop what you are doing for a second and admit to yourself that, “I AM BORED OF THIS TASK”. Simply saying it out aloud makes it easier for you, your body, and your mind to hear it and understand that it is real. Bonus if your boss hears it too! Secondly, make yourself accountable to rediscover the fun in your work. Perhaps there is an interesting project that you have been putting off due to some reasons. Thirdly, reach out to reliable colleagues. Maybe they have some tips to make the tasks fun, or with your luck, some might even offer to take you up as part of their team for an exciting upcoming mission. The bottom line is, open up!

These are actually some tips that I have personally tested and found to work. Of course, it takes guts to acknowledge that we have a problem and make conscious decisions to work on it. As shared by a famous social philosopher, Erich Fromm, “Boredom is nothing but the experience of a paralysis of our productive powers.” So, please do not take chronic boredom lightly, dear friends. Your time is valuable. Your efforts are meaningful. And YOU matter!

 

 

 

Dr. Sarala Thulasi Palpanadan

Centre for Language Studies 

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)

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