It’s International Stress Awareness week and because of that I wanted to bring you more awareness around how to eliminate some of the stress you are experiencing. Thankfully, we have grown as a society to now recognize just how stressed and burnt-out everyone is. Unfortunately, awareness alone isn’t making things better.

A recent study that was conducted by Visier that surveyed 1,000 workers found that 89% have experienced burnout this year and 70% of these employees would leave an organization with better resources to reduce burnout.

These findings leave many organizations confused. The fact is even though companies are trying to reduce burnout of their employees, people are still struggling.

Why is this?

When my team at The International Institute for Emotional Empowerment (IIEE) supports an organization, there are a few key elements that we are looking for in terms of what companies are implementing.

First, we are looking at what external factors are being addressed. The external factors include elements such as offering flexibility with schedules, healthy boundaries around availability are modeled, and workloads are manageable.

Second, we look at what internal factors are being addressed. One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is thinking that the external factors will take care of the internal. This is why we see companies taking weeks off for their employees as a whole. The problem is that any relief experienced is temporary and, more importantly, is not addressing employees’ internal needs.

To meet the psychological needs of today’s employees, we must be willing to give them tools to address the core of their stress. But here again, we see a lot of confusion with trying to implement external factors that address overall well-being, yet avoid the origin of stress.

Let’s get to what the basis of our stress is by turning to the American Psychological Association’s definition of stress, which is: Stress is any uncomfortable emotional experience, accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, and behavioral changes.

To get to the crux of burnout and stress, we must teach employees, managers, and leaders how to process the uncomfortable emotions they are experiencing. Please note, that I said process, not manage these emotions. When we manage feelings, we may experience some temporary relief, but we are not learning how to reduce the emotional weight we are carrying. It is this emotional overwhelm that people are tried of managing that is causing burnout.

My response to the organizations that we support is that they must have a both/and approach that involves both the internal and external factors to reducing burnout.

It is the same for each of us as individuals. There are known external factors that impact how we feel. These include elements such as:

Not getting enough sleep
Not getting enough exercise
Too many deadlines looming
Not asking for help/what you need
Little downtime/time in nature
Unhealthy diet

While just focusing on those external components alone may provide some relief, it doesn’t address the internal components that employees are feeling such as:

Overwhelm
Worry
Resentment
Frustration
Anger
Any unprocessed emotion

What this means, as individuals and organizations, is that we don’t want to hang our hat just on the external components. Of course, the external matters but they are not a magic eraser to the negative emotions that continue to linger within the stress, overwhelm, and burnout being felt by millions.

Neither managing or ignoring these internal feelings is working. Instead, it is time to receive our emotions for the insight that they offer in order that we can feel and be our best.

What I encourage you to do is to take an honest assessment of what you lean toward when it comes to addressing burnout. Are you more comfortable with the external or internal factors? Then take this time to commit to one new way of addressing stress that will support you to balance out the other half of the equation.

By bringing both the internal and external elements together, we address the wholeness of ourselves and that is the only way we will feel whole, both individually and collectively.