Experiencing Burnout – Reflective Exercise

Think about your own experiences of stress, possibly of burnout. What stands out for you – physically, emotionally, cognitively, relationally?

Think about your place of work, and the work you do. What are some of the prominent expectations and attitudes? How is the work environment structured? Leadership? Relationships amongst colleagues?

How familiar do the following statements sound?

“I am exhausted everyday, all day, but I have to carry on, its simply part of being in business.”

“I feel increasingly angry, resentful, and cynical. I know I am bringing this attitude to work everyday but what can I do”?

“I have a good job, good benefits, I am better off than a lot of people. Being burnt out doesn’t make any sense, it isn’t logical. Am I ungrateful”?

“I can’t be burnt out. My employees expect a lot from me. I can’t let anyone down.”

“I am stronger than this. But why do I feel nauseous, my body aches, and I feel like bursting into tears almost every day when I arrive at work”?

“Business is tough, life is tough, I have to get over it.”

“My emotions are getting the better of me. I need to try harder at work.”

“I feel so flat and disengaged. I should be able to handle this project. What is the matter with me”?

For reflection:

  • Is the quantity of work too much day to day? Are the expectations placed on you too high or too low?
  • Is there too little or too much autonomy at work?
  • Are you supported at work? Is there good support or little support? Do you feel isolated or part of a community at work?
  • Do you have a say in your schedule, your work hours?
  • How flexible is your work towards medical appointments, mental health, childcare, eldercare?
  • Are you acknowledged and valued for the skills and experience you bring to your work/role?
  • Is the communication around you good? Are expectations and job duties clearly stated? Are you able to communicate easily with colleagues/superiors? Do you have a voice?
  • What is the leadership/management like at your work? What kind of environment do leaders/managers create? What do they prioritize? Do they inspire? Do they listen? Is the feedback given constructive, respectful, appropriate?
  • Is teamwork positive? Does each member of the team feel valued for what they bring to the work/project? Does each member understand what their role is?
  • Are interpersonal conflicts at work dealt with respectfully, quickly, and positively?

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