City staff facing 'mass burnout' but what is behind the extreme exhaustion?

Are city workers facing exhaustion like nothing we have ever known?

Are city workers facing exhaustion like nothing we have ever known? - Credit: Miranda Ellis/Melanie Lockwood/Emma Thorogood Wilcox/Laura Watling/Whitney McKernan-Sulivan

With the nights drawing in and the weather turning cold city folk are reporting feeling exhausted like never before. 

So what's behind the mass fatigue gripping Norwich employees? 

Melanie Lockwood, who supports parents and carers of students at the University of East Anglia, said: “The mass burnout we're seeing at the moment is real problem. But I suspect it’s not something that’s going to ease any time soon.  

Melanie Lockwood thinks that the mass burnout has been massively spurred on by the pandemic. 

Melanie Lockwood thinks that the mass burnout has been massively spurred on by the pandemic. - Credit: Melanie Lockwood

“It's because the goal posts are always changing and a constant state of uncertainly is really impacting people.  

“This time of year is also challenging. It's a transition time and in the rest of nature we see a slow down after summer. 

"But humans are accelerating - trying to catch up and keep on top of things as the country starts to open up again."

A city teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she has been off of work for two weeks due to the feeling of utter exhaustion. 

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She said: “Things I normally enjoy like a walk on the beach just leave me feeling utterly exhausted."

Laura Watling is self-employed having been made redundant during the pandemic. 

Laura Watling lost her job during the pandemic whilst pregnant and is feeling exhaustion trying to juggle everything.

Laura Watling lost her job during the pandemic while pregnant and is feeling exhaustion trying to juggle everything. - Credit: Laura Watling

She said: “It was in the middle of the pandemic and I was pregnant - it was so stressful. 

“I think some businesses were quick to express the importance of employees carrying on when they weren’t furloughed. In some cases there has been a lack of empathy towards the situation we were all in.”  

She added: “Added to that many of us haven’t had the opportunity for a proper break."

Emma Thorogood Wilcox works as a family entertainer across Norfolk, and added: “I started to feel really weak and tired all the time a few months ago, to the point where I could hardly keep my head up at work some days.  

Emma is finding she doesn't have the energy to enjoy things that ordinarily she would love. 

Emma is finding she doesn't have the energy to enjoy things that ordinarily she would love. - Credit: Emma Thorogood-Wilcox

“Over the last few months, I can sleep for a good 10 or 12 hours some nights and still need a nap. It is like someone has put weights in my arms legs some days.” 

For one carer her tiredness stems from the pace set during the pandemic. 

The healthcare professional, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Some of us have worked non-stop. I've had to put my life at risk working 12-hour days and that pace hasn't really changed since the pandemic. 

"I am absolutely exhausted and feel like I'm close to burning out - but it feels like no one cares."

Whitney McKernan-Sullivan

Whitney McKernan-Sullivan can't seem to shake covid. - Credit: Whitney McKernan-Sullivan

Meanwhile Whitney McKernan-Sullivan, like many others, is struggling to bounce back after testing positive for Covid. 

The full-time Norwich mum and student also suffers with fibromyalgia and said: “I usually attend lots of support groups to deal with the pain and flare ups but due to the pandemic that all stopped.  

“I’m just struggling with the exhaustion more than I usually would.” 

Life coach and therapist Miranda Ellis confirmed she is seeing more and more cases of burnout in Norwich people.  

Miranda Ellis is a life coach and therapist based within the city.

Miranda Ellis is a life coach and therapist based within the city. - Credit: Miranda Ellis Coaching

She explained: “Over the past 18 months or so we have not been able to do all the things we would usually do to look after ourselves.  

“I think of wellbeing as a bucket of water. Every day it gets sloshed about and drains away - or it gets holes in it. 

She added: “We have to do maintenance on the bucket. We do that by doing things that make us happy, doing things with other people and things for ourselves, but of course we haven’t been able to do that.  

“We have had to holiday at home, which is never as relaxing as getting away from it all. 

“All of this is contributing to our general level of stress and low wellbeing.  

“And work is changing massively - different things are now being expected of staff."  

She went on: “Everyone is stressed to the maximum and I believe we are on the brink of a wellbeing crisis.  

“Not many people are talking about it and we really need to do something.” 

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