Perspectives on Burnout

(Originally Published on May 6, 2019 on

Work is a pretty big part of our lives. We spend, most days, eight hours at our job. That is one third of the day! Though often overlooked, just having a job requires a lot of sacrifice from missing special events with the kids to taking those unexpected yet super important phone calls during dinner. Needless to say, many of us are not making what we are worth in our current positions because we have lost touch with the value of the sacrifices made. That’s the ‘injury’. The insult comes along when we find that we no longer enjoy our work, our boss or the culture. In other words, we have come to feel burnout.

Burnout is that special place of de-motivation. Once hit it can be a challenge to redirect. Most times with burnout the focus is not on how we can change our reaction to work-related events but how we can change the work environment, meaning find a new job. While it’s the ‘easy way out’ it does not provide growth and development within the self. Being burnt out doesn’t mean you are ready to just leave, it means you have found a spot to grow into but you have to have tolerance to take on that challenge and make the most of it.” – Tara Parker, Academic Success Coach & Mental Trainer

What part does physical health play in burnout?

“Being in the medical and life coaching field, I seek the best evidence-based solutions. What I’ve learned is burnout is NOT a state of mind, it’s mostly about your physical health. What’s happening is your body is stuck in the stress cycle and overtime your body informs your mind that you have too much stress. That equals burnout.

You can’t will yourself to stop feeling burnout. It’s about the body healing then the state of mind can adapt and relax back to calm.

I bet you’re asking how you can heal your body.

The evidence says we need to complete the stress cycles that are creating the burnout. The best way to do this is with physical activity. Exercise, a 20 second hug with someone you trust, deep belly breathing, crying, laughter, or progressive muscle relaxation all work for men and women.

By completing physical activity, our body tells our mind we are safe, and the stress cycle can complete. This will, over time, release the burnout from the body, essentially healing the body from the stress inflammation.

Additional evidence says that creative expression, such as journaling, arts and crafts, dance, and sports can help heal the body to heal the burnout.

Lastly, it’s important to note that prevention really is the key. Inner work such as learning your personal values, quieting your inner voice that is critical, and not having too high expectations for yourself all come into play with preventing burnout. Outer work with health management of good sleep, food, water, exercise, and healthy interpersonal relationships are also key components to implement.” – Danielle Carson, Stress/Anxiety to Happiness Coach

If it's not purely physical health related, could your organization's culture be causing burnout?

“What does it mean to feel burned out? It’s more than just being stressed at work. You can experience burnout without being depressed. And there are plenty of people who are overworked but not burned out.

So what is burnout? Burnout is the abiding feeling that your resources for work have been used up, and that your job is not replenishing you. As technology blurs the lines between work and home, it’s increasingly difficult to sense a mental or emotional break. And, as we feel like we are being asked to do more with fewer and fewer resources, we may perceive few opportunities to recharge.

The standard response to burnout has been ‘Take some time off!’ Or maybe the same health solutions as for stress—eat right, get plenty of sleep, enjoy some exercise. Great though they may be, these ‘solutions’ might not actually address the root of your burnout, particularly if the problem is systemic in your organization.  

When I think about my last battle with burnout, I can promise you that no amount of vacation or good sleep was going to solve the problem. I was doing work I loved, sure that I was helping make the world a better place. But communication in my workplace was strained at best, and I felt increasingly that my efforts were not valued. The best solution for me was to do a hard right and take my talents elsewhere.

I’m certainly not recommending that everyone experiencing burnout should quit their jobs. But if you just can’t muster any emotion for your work, or you’re dragging yourself into the office every day, you might want to consider what role your organization is playing in leaving you so burned out.” – Becky Eason, Wellness & Career Coach

How do boundaries and self-understanding play into burnout?

“If you Google ‘burnout’, you’ll find articles and insight from some big wigs out there…Psychology Today, Mayo Clinic, Harvard Business Review…It’s a topic that (unfortunately) all of us at some point in our lives - to varying degrees - will have a relationship with. We all know somebody whom we would describe as ‘burnt out’. Heck, maybe you even are that ‘somebody’! But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We most easily think of burnout in connection to our occupations. As a Life, Retirement, and Career Coach I see it quite often with my clients who are feeling ‘stuck’. We have workplaces and communities filled with individuals in a state of being of prolonged stress resulting in: emotional exhaustion, feelings of bleakness, and feelings of helplessness. Ugh. No thank you. Not the way I would like to describe my life – or wish for anyone on this planet. I want for myself and for all of my friends, family members, and clients to have a state of being in prolonged balance and contentment resulting in: Emotional energy! Feelings of joy! Feelings of hope!

That’s living BIG.

So how do we get there? What’s so insidious about burnout that none of us feel safe? It boils down to clarity. If we are unsure about what projects, people, and places energize us, then we will be easily swayed to our neighbor’s demands and decisions.  If we don’t protect and create space for what brings us joy, then our time and talents will be quickly swallowed up by someone else’s needs. To combat feelings and symptoms of burnout we have to get really curious about our values, strengths, and desires. And then live it. Without apologies. If you choose to define what success and balance means to you – in work, in relationships, in spirituality, in recreation, in physical wellness, etc. – then you can create the action plans and boundaries to live that freely. Just hearing that creates a sense of ‘Ahhh that sounds wonderful’. It IS wonderful. And it IS attainable. Relieving burnout (or, better yet, bypassing burnout all together) is not only about extreme self-care. It’s uncovering a deep awareness about where your energy is going, where you want it to go, and what boundaries you need to put in place to live your best life.” – Samantha Lane, Life & Business Coach

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