Acknowledging Our Burnout

We all identify with certain narratives and expectations about work, career, and our own professionalism. These narratives and expectations are both personally created and culturally constructed; very often they are a blending of both.

Burnout can, therefore, feel incongruent with how we identify as a professional, with the expectations we have of ourselves and how we work.

Many clients I have worked with feel anxious and discouraged that they cannot simply cope and carry on with the extreme physical and emotional exhaustion they are experiencing. I listen to clients who feel further shame and guilt for not being able to work at their “normal level.” 

Work environments play their part

Work environments also uphold their own narratives and workplace policies that influence and shape expectations for our productivity, commitment, and availability. Without a doubt, many workplaces lay the foundations for burnout.

And increasingly the boundaries between work and the rest of our lives are becoming more blurred creating an increase in levels of burnout. The challenges and adaptations we went through during the pandemic certainly shone a light on this.

While we speak more openly and publicly about burnout, and my hope is we will reach a place of collective responsibility for addressing it and finding more holistic solutions, the experience of burnout remains very personal.

I want to focus on the personal experience of burnout in this blog, specifically the areas of acknowledgement and acceptance.

Acknowledgment and Acceptance

Acknowledging and accepting burnout does not mean resignation to it.

Acknowledging burnout helps to reduce the energy we are expending to minimize, deny, judge and/or fight against what we are experiencing and feeling.

Accepting our experiences of burnout helps us gather information and re-gain perspective. Acceptance gives us more “internal room” to see, feel and create changes to our lives. 

Possibilities for change include: 

  • Offering ourselves a daily dose of self-compassion. Not judging ourselves so harshly by minimizing what we are feeling and experiencing. Being more flexible with ourselves.
  • Becoming more mindful of, and more connected to, our experiences -tuning in to our fluctuating energy and motivation.
  • Reflecting on the narratives, expectations, and attitudes we carry about ourselves, about work and career. Assessing what changes are possible within our lives, to how we work, and in our work environment.
  • Implementing appropriate boundaries between work and the rest of our lives.
  • Regaining personal agency and being active and decisive in creating and implementing changes that restore health to our lives – integrating healthy and manageable strategies that benefit us physically, nutritionally, psychologically, emotionally, and relationally.

These are the conversations, the support, and the customized strategies found at Canvas Career Counselling. Contact for more information.