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How Jenny got 'instant' relief from 'toxic' illness half all Aussie workers face

Jenny Inhof quit her job after suffering intense anxiety she's not alone, with more than half of Aussie workers experiencing burnout in 2023.

Sydney woman Jenny Inhof faced a dark and debilitating internal battle every day as a “toxic” illness caused her to experience anxiety, fatigue, insomnia and poor mental health, resulting in complete exhaustion.

It’s not a rare disease that made Inhof go from a bubbly and positive person to to one riddled with stress and anxiety, but burnout - an issue impacting 54 per cent of Aussie employees due to intense demands from bosses, toxic office culture or poor work-life balance.

The fashion industry is known to be “quite catty and unsupportive” and the marketer said her 10-year tenure in the field left her feeling stressed, run down and "isolated".

“It was more a mental battle, I would say, which manifested into physical symptoms,” the 31-year-old told Yahoo Finance.

Woman wears a white dress.
Jenny Inhof quit her job in the fashion industry after experiencing burnout. (Source: Supplied)

“It was really affecting my mental health and anxiety was a very normal thing for me back then.”

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Jenny - who was getting sick far more often than usual - said she knew she was “good at her job” but her team became smaller when there were redundancies and cutbacks, and the pressure started to build to a point where she had to walk away.

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The relief was “instantaneous” and her anxiety dissipated overnight.

Now running her own Shopify web design company, Just Create It Digital, employing staff and sourcing a large number of clients globally through freelance workspace Fiverr, Inhof said she earns 125 per cent more than she did before. She can take home from $150 for small projects to $10,000 for larger ones.

Burnout a 'particular issue' post-pandemic

While lockdown was particularly tough – with already stressed working parents forced to juggle full-time jobs with homeschooling – data suggests burnout has actually worsened post-pandemic as companies streamline, reduce staff and introduce office mandates after four years of remote or hybrid working.

According to Fiverr’s Australian community manager Oliver Woolrych, 2023 was particularly tough on the workforce as employees were forced back to full-time onsite roles which had seen a rise in absenteeism, "quiet quitting", burnout and people leaving office-based jobs altogether, a trend he saw as set to continue.

A composite image of a blonde woman, one holding the strings of a swing and the other holding a handbag.
Inhof said the relief when she left her stressful work in fashion was 'instantaneous'. Source: Instagram

“Burnout is proving to be a particular issue post-pandemic,” he told Yahoo Finance. “For years people have shaped their lives around the promise of remote and hybrid working, whether that be moving further away from the major cities or taking on additional child care responsibilities.

“However, return to office mandates are promising to unravel this, leading to a pile of extra stresses for workers across the country. With many companies choosing to streamline their workforce and a cost of living crisis making life harder outside of work, it’s easy to see why burnout is at such high levels.”

Woolrych said Fiverr research found more than half – 54 per cent – of Aussie employees experienced burnout or mental health challenges due to work last year, while 62 per cent of full-time workers said this had reduced their productivity.

Cost-cutting, toxic workplaces behind burnout

“Intense workloads (47 per cent), toxic company culture (38 per cent), and a lack of time for leisure and personal activities (36 per cent) were stated as the biggest reasons for burnout,” he said.

“These often result from employers trying to cut costs – a trend we saw heavily in 2023 due to the poor economic environment – staff shortages and unrealistic expectations from managers.”

Woolrych told Yahoo Finance any practice that “disturbed the mental wellbeing of employees” contributed to a “toxic workplace”.

“Some of the key themes I have noticed are bullying and harassment, micromanagement, poor conflict resolution and unfair treatment,” he said. “These behaviours weaken trust, impede productivity and generate discontent among staff.”

Jenny Inhof (left) and Oliver Woolrych (right). Source: Fiverr
Jenny Inhof (left) now runs her own company after experiencing burnout which affects 54 percent of workers, according to Fiverr's Oliver Woolrych (right). Source: Fiverr

He said many Aussies – particularly Gen Z and Millennials who, according to Fiverr's stats, experienced greater levels of burnout at 64 per cent, compared to Gen X and Boomers at 40 per cent – intended to “take back control” of their working lives, with 32 per cent of Aussies planning to change jobs in 2024.

“As burnout from traditional 9-5 roles increases, more workers are turning to freelancing as an alternative,” Woolrych said.

“Fiverr research found that 58 per cent of Australians are planning to continue or start freelancing in 2024 to help improve their mental health, with flexibility and autonomy also listed as major motivators.

“These trends suggest that freelancing is evolving to a more mainstream way of working, driven by the desire for improved well-being.”

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, Mensline 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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