Do you have ‘boreout’? Here are 5 signs and how to deal with it

Gallery: 20 tips for working from home (Espresso) We all know about burnout: a pervasive,

Gallery: 20 tips for working from home (Espresso)

We all know about burnout: a pervasive, all-consuming feeling of overwhelm, exhaustion, brain fog and a lack of motivation, which is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an ‘occupational phenomenon’ – though not a medical condition. In a hyper-worked, stressed-out culture, it’s a term that has aptly described how many of us feel, managing the myriad expectations life has of us.

a close up of a man: It's similar to burnout, but caused by a lack of stimulation at work. Here are the symptoms to look out for, the effects and how to combat it.

© Tiziana Nanni – Getty Images
It’s similar to burnout, but caused by a lack of stimulation at work. Here are the symptoms to look out for, the effects and how to combat it.

A lesser known issue, you’re likely less familiar with? ‘Boreout.’ It shares symptoms with its similarly-monikered cousin, but is caused by almost the exact opposite issue – a lack of stimulation or challenge from your job.

Though that may not seem like something worthy of many column inches, the mental impact on employees wellbeing can be massive. And, due to the COVID-related changes in many people’s workload – especially for those in what were people-facing roles – it’s one you should know about.

But the term has been around since 2007, when it was coined by two Swiss business consultants, Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin.

It hit the headlines in 2016, when a French perfume company was ordered to pay an employee €40,000 (£36,000). Frederic Desnard took Interparfums to a workers’ tribunal on the grounds that he’d been asked to do nothing but menial tasks during four years at his €80,000 (£72,800) a year job, since the loss of a big contract drastically changed his workload, resulting in him becoming a ‘professional zombie’. The Paris Court Of Appeal ruled that Desnard’s workload and the consequential boreout amounted to ‘moral harassment’.

Why is ‘boreout’ on the rise?

For those of us that aren’t key workers and are, instead, spending the day tapping at laptops, work has metamorphosed into something very different than we’re used to.

‘Over the last few months, you’ll have experienced a lot of change to your everyday working life. Whether you’ve swapped your commute to working from home, you’ve been on furlough or you’ve stayed in the office with a reduced team, we’ve all had to adapt. It’s normal for your mental health to have been impacted,’ says Fatmata Kamara, Specialist Mental Health Adviser at Bupa UK.

As you know, there have been huge shifts to jobs. For many, commutes are a thing of the past, with working from home becoming commonplace during lockdown, while others will have been furloughed or had to adjust to new schedules as their teams have changed or even had their workloads lightened. Some have been made redundant or found reliable freelance work flows has stem to a trickle.

It’s no surprise, all things considered, that work may have become less fun and more stressful, especially with the sudden drop in social interaction. Zoom calls can provide an alternative, but they’re not a real swap for the usual conversations you’d experience in a people-facing role or with your team on the way back from a IRL meeting.

What causes boreout?

The root of boreout is the same as burnout: work. The difference, however, is workload, says Kamara.

‘Sometimes the demands of work can get too much – especially during these uncertain times – and you may be overexerting yourself, which can result in burnout. Boreout is a little different; you may feel like work is repetitive, easy and doesn’t challenge your abilities enough’, she says.

Our working environments can play a big part too, ‘especially if you have little interaction with your fellow employees’.

What are the signs of boreout?

It’s easy to misread symptoms as burnout due to the similar symptoms, but they stem from opposing issues with work. While burnout is often characterised by overstimulation, the issue with boreout is you’re not getting enough. Kamara describes the symptoms as:

  • Overwhelm
  • Lack of motivation
  • Exhaustion

You may also notice ‘feeling anxious, sad or fatigued’, says Kamara.

What is the longterm effect of boreout?

Though the concept might not seem serious, the impact that it can have most certainly is. A study of 7,000 civil servants over a 24-year period showed being bored ‘all the time’ at work can reduce life expectancy.

It’s not as a direct consequence, but lack of stimulation from jobs can lead people to seek excitements from other areas of life, like drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating unhealthily and by undertaking more risky activities.

How can you overcome ‘boreout?’

If you can relate to these symptoms and you’re worried that you’re experiencing boreout, don’t just ignore it. Unfortunately it seems like these workplace changes could be here for a while, so try Kamara’s tips for dealing with it.

1/ Break the silence

As with any issue, it’s important to speak to someone close to you as opening up to a friend, loved one or colleague can help you make sense of how you feel, how long you’ve felt like this and whether you may need extra support.

If it’s your work that’s leaving you feeling fatigued or unmotivated, you don’t have to leave your role to overcome these issues. Instead, calmly talk to your manager or employer about what changes could be made to your workload to make it more stimulating, focusing on tasks and identifying new responsibilities that could help to combat how you’re feeling.

It’s possible to experience boreout in your relationship as well and it’s important to broach it with your partner. It’s not something that should be seen as a criticism as, like your work life, it will have experienced huge shifts during the pandemic. While we may not be able to experience our usual date nights outside of our homes, there are lots of creative ways to enjoy your time together again and opportunities to try new things, from online escape rooms to virtual cookery classes. Even just allotting a few hours on a particular evening to have dinner and chat, rather than wrapping up work and binging on Netflix until bed.

It’s important to remember that if you are struggling with feelings of boreout, speaking to your GP can help you understand the cause and identify steps to take to improve it.

2/ Prioritise your work-life balance

Many of us have worked from home over the last six months and it can be easy to lose motivation. Perhaps your workload has relaxed during this period or you’ve not had much interaction with your colleagues. Whatever the basis of your boreout, it’s important to maintain a good work-life balance, even if that means prioritising your downtime over your promotion.

Make sure you’re focusing on your job during your working hours and take short, regular breaks away from your digital devices, including a longer break for your lunch. If you’re struggling to get into a rhythm, try the Pomodoro technique which involves 25 minutes working and a five minute break in cycles.

Though it can be easy to realise you’ve spent the day inside and at your laptop since you woke up, make an effort to input other habits like taking a walk before starting or at lunch, or even having a cup of tea while reading your book first thing, even if it means getting up 15 minutes earlier.

a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Close-Up Portrait Of Young Woman Against Black Background

© Gary Ellis / EyeEm – Getty Images
Close-Up Portrait Of Young Woman Against Black Background

Set yourself small, achievable goals throughout your working day, as you would have in the office, and have a clear switch-off time. Why not set yourself some goals for your evening, as well? It can be simple things like planning to ring a close friend for a chat or join a yoga class to ensure you don’t let your work run into your free time.

It’s about trying to achieve a balance, as with everything. There are positive effects of being bored, but the issue is when it continues longer term and not only creates stress and anxiety but makes people question their meaning.

3/ Think about your purpose

It can be easy to lose sight of your purpose and sense of self, whether it’s in work or at home, which can quickly make you feel down. It’s understandable to feel anxious, fatigued or worried, especially when it’s a career you’ve been working on for a long time that’s been impacted.

Remember to live your life authentically and avoid worrying about what other people think, even though it can be tricky and take some time to get used to when you’ve been equating your job with your own sense of purpose for years.

Focus on the activities that make you feel good about yourself or you enjoy, and prioritise these in your routine. If you’ve always thought about writing a book, learning coding or making candles, then it’s a good time to try and start it — but it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself while doing so. It might turn out to be a new side hustle, but it might just be a positive and fulfilling way to pass the time alongside your current work situation.

If you’re feeling unsure about your work focus and ability, try writing down past achievements which can remind you of your purpose and steer you into finding what makes you happy.

4/ Find what motivates you

It’s time to evaluate your goals. Notice how you respond as you think of each of the things you’re trying to work on; if you start to feel tense, park that one for now and focus on those that make you relaxed.

Write down the individual steps that will be required to achieve this goal and tick them off when you achieve them, always remembering to practise self-kindness.

5/ Take on a new challenge

Trying something new, like learning a new skill or joining a fitness class, can help boost your mood and leave you feeling productive and motivated. Volunteering, for example, is a great way to reduce your feelings of anxiety or low mood, while also helping others. A quick search online can bring up local opportunities, many of which can still be done with social distancing measures in place.

Ultimately, it’s about recognising if you’ve got boreout and making changes to your life that will help you feel fulfilled. But appreciate that it can be a tough time, so be kind and don’t put yourself under too much pressure. One step at a time.

Subscribe to Red now to get the magazine delivered to your door. Red’s latest issue is out now and available for purchase online and via Readly or Apple News+.

Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Source Article