Five Signs Your Pharmacy May Be Experiencing Burnout

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There are common symptoms experienced in the workplace that may be linked to hormones instead of stress.

Stress in the workplace is a common issue, with 79% of the workforce saying they frequently experience work-related stress,1 with 13.7 million working days lost to it each year in the UK, costing the economy £28.3 billion annually.2 Fewer than half felt like they were given the right support and 84% experienced burnout.3 However, 58% of respondents said they felt comfortable talking to their boss about mental health concerns.3

Image Credit: Krakenimages.com - stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: Krakenimages.com - stock.adobe.com

It's clear that businesses need to tackle stress in the workplace, which can arise due to a variety of factors, such as workload, deadlines, long working hours, poor working conditions, job insecurity, and interpersonal conflicts, manifesting in many different physical symptoms.

To tackle this, it’s important to understand that hormone imbalances can also manifest in some of the symptoms of stress, which can actually cause hormone imbalances. While it may seem logical to blame all these symptoms on stress, there are common symptoms experienced in the workplace that may be linked to hormones instead.

Here are 5 common causes and symptoms that may indicate your staff is experiencing burnout:

1. Prolonged imposter syndrome

Although we can all experience a lack of confidence in our abilities from time to time—especially for new pharmacists just getting acclimated to their job roles—a prolonged lack of belief could signal otherwise. If you’re an established pharmacist with plenty of experience, you or your employer's lack of belief could be the culprit of burnout. Persistent negative thoughts about self-worth and value to the pharmacy signal flagging emotional resilience.

2. Insomnia

Insomnia is common symptom of stress and burnout, which most of us have experienced, but if it occurs during the last week of the menstrual cycle, it could, in fact, be due to a hormone imbalance. During the luteal phase, progesterone levels are on the rise and, in theory, should be balanced with oestrogen; however, many women suffer from oestrogen dominance, meaning the two become out of sync. Progesterone is a calming, sedating hormone that is hugely beneficial to sleep, so if women don’t have this in balance with oestrogen, it can cause sleepless nights in the week leading up to their period.

3. Low energy levels

Before you think an employee is disengaged or not giving 100%, it may be worth noting that low levels of any of the sex hormones can result in fatigue, as can reduced thyroid hormones. This makes it difficult for employees to give their best, which can lead to burnout, and also negatively impacts overall team morale.

4. Lack of focus/brain fog

Pumping out stress hormones means that the body puts brain power on the back burner, so this can be a very common symptom of burnout. Declining levels of oestrogen or that all-important balance between oestrogen and progesterone can also cause brain fog and a lack of focus, leading to performance-related issues. Many women in peri-menopause or menopause complain of brain fog, some even leaving their jobs because of it, so it’s a significant symptom that should be looked into.

5. Mood swings

Noticed one of your pharmacists has snapped at another colleague or customer on more than one occasion? Irritability can be a predominant sign of burnout. Despite best intentions, burnout can manifest as criticizing and moody behavior.

Excessive and prolonged stress/burnout in a pharmacy can have negative effects on employees’ mental and physical health, job satisfaction, productivity and overall wellbeing, which can cause a snowball effect with other employees becoming demotivated too. So, what can employers do to approach stress in the workplace?

  • Promote a healthy work-life balance. Encourage employees to prioritize their personal well-being and avoid overworking. That may look different for each employee e.g., flexible working or extra holiday.
  • Create a supportive working environment. Encourage employees to seek support from their colleagues and management when they need it, fostering a supportive environment that promotes positive communication, collaboration, and teamwork.
  • Provide appropriate training and development to help employees develop the skills they need to manage stress effectively. This could include time management skills or stress management techniques.
  • Encourage physical activity. Exercise is the number one thing we can all do to improve our health, as engaging in physical activity is proven to help manage our stress and hormone levels. Providing access to a gym or group fitness classes is a great way to promote physical activity in the workplace.
  • Recognize and reward employees for their hard work and contributions to the organization. This can boost morale, providing a knock-on effect to other team members and creating a more positive work environment.
  • Provide healthy snacks in the office and encourage any team lunches/meals out to be healthy. Offices tend to be filled with sweet snacks, which just feed hormone imbalances, encourage weight gain, and add to us feeling unable to deal with stress.
  • Provide a quiet room for employees to retreat to if they need time out, whether that be to meditate, sit undisturbed or to take a short nap.

It’s important for employers to recognize the signs and symptoms of work-related stress and burnout or symptoms of hormone imbalances for both themselves and their employers, and take proactive steps to address it before it becomes a chronic issue.

References

1. Stewart, C. Most common types of stress experienced in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2020. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1134359/common-types-of-stress-in-the-uk/

2. Stress Statistics UK, NICE https://championhealth.co.uk/insights/stress-statistics/

3. Nicol-Schwartz, K. Burnout and bullying: Why startup workers’ mental health is so bad https://sifted.eu/articles/mental-health-workplace

About the Author

Anna Paci is the head of Education and Communication at Specialist Pharmacy, which produces the compounded medication prescribed for bioidentical hormones. Her background in Biomedical Science and Phytotherapy equips her to create training and educational materials, such as courses and webinars, peer group events and online learning platforms. She provides guidance and support from pre-enrolment onto courses through to clinical consultation and has seen over 300 medical professionals come through the training programme. Anna has worked in various roles such as Practice Manager, Key Account Manager and Compounding Technician, giving her a 360-degree view of the businesses. Anna is proud to work for such a unique, innovative and forward-thinking business where her skills and experience can be utilised and where she can create a direct impact on future growth and expansion. Knowing the work she does contributes to the improved quality of life of thousands of men and women suffering from hormonal imbalances, is a huge motivator.

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