“But it’s the company’s fault!” they cry! By they, I mean most of the people posting articles about burnout. It all falls back to the same stat: 80% of burnout is due to the organizational structure and only 20% is due to the individual’s resiliency.
Here’s why I don’t give a shit about that:
IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE TO BE TALKING BURNOUT PREVENTION. The conversation that needs to happen is about RECOVERY. Also, I burnt out as an entrepreneur, so I had no company to blame.
When we have ranges from 58%-75%* of people experiencing burnout in 2020, that means we have massive portions of our populations that are ALREADY BURNT OUT. So, for sure, the systems need to change, but while that’s happening - we still need systems that will help people heal.
And this is where it gets tricky - most of the tips that have been created are around that same ‘80% is the organization’s fault’ stat. That means they are related to organizational changes that will help prevent burnout, and individual changes that will help prevent burnout. To be clear, I’m not ANTI preventing burnout - it’s just that those solutions aren’t applicable to people who are already burnt out - and those are the people that I am focused on helping.
For instance, if I see one more person telling someone who is burnt out to start a gratitude journal, I’ll pull my hair out (not really, I have great hair that I thoroughly enjoy--but you get my point). Gratitude journals don’t work when you’re burnt out.
Instead, try doing a resentment journal. A resentment journal will help you find out where you can make small changes and get big impact. It will help you decide where new boundaries need to be put in place, or where old boundaries need to be repaired. We’ve all got to patch the fence sometimes.
Here’s another couple examples of preventative measures that won’t work to heal your burnout:
Vacation - I mean, sure, yes, take a vacation - but you’re going to be sorely disappointed if you think it will solve your burnout. Burnout is a result of long term chronic stress and you have to have time to actually HEAL things that have gone haywire. For instance, you brain shrunk - 7 days on the beach won’t fix that. We need to focus on techniques that regrow your brain. One of those is meditation, but when you’re burnt out, meditation is really hard, so we make it easier and suggest 3 minutes of binaural beats a day instead.
Exercise - Okay, I like exercise -AND- anyone suggesting this has obviously never been burnt out. One of the symptoms of long term burnout can be muscle atrophy, outside of the overwhelming fatigue that you feel. PLUS, the motivation center of your brain is located in that spot that shrunk. Movement definitely matters, and when you’re preventing burnout you should keep that heart rate up! But when you’re recovering - your best friends are slow walks, yin yoga, tai chi, and the like.
Burnout recovery is a journey and one that should be multifaceted and include someone other than you in the driver’s seat. Having someone guide and hold space for your healing makes for a MUCH faster recovery. Decision fatigue when you’re burnt out is REALER THAN REAL. If you’re burnt out right now and you need healing, start with whatever style of treatment you like best.
Love sciencey stuff? Get a functional medicine work up. Been interested in acupuncture for ages but never had a ‘reason’ to try it? You’ve got one now, go get your healing on! Are you a total energy person? Pay your favorite reiki practitioner to spend some time with you! There’s a treatment method for everyone, find yours, and use it!
The most important thing I want you to take away from this blog right now is:
If you've been trying to heal and it hasn't been working, it might be because you're further down the burnout highway than you thought and the measures you're taking would have been great 12 exits ago, but you're past that now and need to reroute your journey to focus on healing on a deeper level.