Jacinda Ardern has been praised for “normalising” after announcing she was stepping down as New Zealand prime minister, saying she had “nothing left in the tank”.

Ms Ardern, 42, who became leader in 2017, fought back tears during a ceremony. Emotional news conference To which she said: “I know what it takes, and I know I don’t have enough in the tank to do it justice. It’s that simple.”

Although she didn’t specifically use the phrase “burnout”, a well-known psychologist said “that’s exactly what she was referring to”.

“He said ‘the tank is empty’ – that’s burnout,” said Professor Sir Kerry Cooper, who has just published a book, Burnout in the Workplace.

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“It’s unfortunate that we don’t have enough people saying who’s in leadership. Instead, they move on and carry on, or when they’re gone they make some other excuse. .

“It would be nice if they were open and honest.”

Professor Cooper said it was “relatively rare” for someone so senior to speak out about their mental health, particularly in politics or business – although there had been notable exceptions in the past.

In 1998 Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik drew international attention when he announced he was suffering from depression – becoming the highest-ranking world leader to admit suffering from mental illness while in office.

More recently in business, Tom Bloomfield, founder of digital challenger bank Monzo, has previously spoken about his struggles with anxiety, and HSBC executive Stuart White has opened up about his depression.

Professor Cooper said the impact of Ms Ardern’s outspokenness would be “very positive”: “When you get people in positions of influence, in senior roles, saying something has a more profound effect on other people. Who are willing to open themselves up.”

Kjell Bondevik was the first world leader to speak publicly about suffering from mental health problems.  Photo: AP
Kjell Bondevik was the first world leader to speak publicly about suffering from mental health problems. Photo: AP

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that can occur when you experience long-term stress in your job.

It was recognized as a medical condition by the World Health Organization in 2019, which defines it as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”.

The phrase was coined in the 1970s when psychologist Herbert Freudenberger experienced such fatigue and stress from his work that he could not get out of bed.

Burnout wasn’t just exhaustion and not depression at all — it was a reaction to stress and frustration, he said.

“It’s a response to the demands that a person can place on themselves in terms of perfectionism or driving demands,” Freudenberger said.

What are the symptoms?

Burnout is characterized by three symptoms:

  • Lack of energy or feeling tired
  • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s work
  • Decreased professional efficacy
Ardern gave birth to her daughter in 2018 while in office.  Photo: AP
Ms Ardern, who admitted to burnout, gave birth to her daughter in 2018 while in office. Pic: AP

How big a problem is this?

One in five Britons told Mental Health UK they felt “unable to handle pressure and stress in the workplace” in a March 2021 survey of more than 2,000 people.

Only 23% of workers said their workplace had a plan to detect signs of chronic stress and prevent employee burnout.

Stress, depression and anxiety were the leading causes of workplace absence in 2021/22, accounting for 51% of all new and long-term work-related ill-health cases.

“It’s a big problem,” Professor Cooper said.

Sam Fender canceled a series of concerts.

Who else has talked about it?

Singer Sam Fender A series of concerts were canceled last year.Referring to his mental health and burnout

He posted on Twitter that I had “neglected myself for over a year and didn’t deal with things that affected me deeply”.

“Me and the boys are burnt out and we need this time,” he said.

American gymnast Simone Biles has given up on the number. Tokyo Olympics 2020 Finaldespite expectations of matching his record-breaking medal tally from four years ago.

Biles said that she was “nervous in high-stress situations” and “withdrew to focus on her well-being. There’s more to life than just gymnastics.”

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Simone Biles of the United States in the women's balance beam final at the Ariake Gymnastics Center on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.  Photo date: Tuesday, August 3, 2021.
Simone Biles has been eliminated from several Olympic finals.

Sandra Bullock: ‘It was like opening an empty fridge’

Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock said she was taking a break from acting last year.

“I’m so burnt out,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.

He did not say how long the break might last but said work had become his “crutch”.

“It was like opening the fridge all the time and looking for something that was never in the fridge,” she said.

Sandra Bullock arriving for the UK premiere of The Lost City at Sunworld Leicester Square in central London.  Photo date: Thursday March 31, 2022.
Sandra Bullock is taking a break from acting.

What to do if you think you’ve been burned.

If you’re worried you or someone you know has it – try to get to the bottom of “what burnout is” – either by talking to a professional or someone close to you, Professor Cooper said. do

If stress is affecting your daily life or causing you anxiety, call NHS 111 or talk to your GP. In England, you can also refer to psychotherapy through the NHS IAPT service without seeing your GP.

“We always have options no matter what the driving reason is for our poor health,” he said.

“We all have options.”

Anyone who is emotionally disturbed or feeling suicidal can call. Samaritan For help call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritan branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

You can also get help from Time to change either or Mental Health Foundation.

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