Burnout Treatment and Burnout Recovery

When you began your new job you were excited, ready to jump out of bed and get going every day. Filled with passion about the mission of you workplace, you didn’t mind long hours, and the stress just seemed to roll off of you. You loved your colleagues and your shared sense of purpose. You couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning.

Or maybe you took a job because it helped you make ends meet. Taking care of your family was more important than fulfillment at work, and you promised yourself you would make the weekends count, that you would make time for fun and find time to figure out what you really want along the way.

But lately you’ve just lost your passion. Maybe you are working extra hard, trying to find it again. Or maybe for the first time in your life you are calling in sick, when all you really are is tired. You sleep, but do not wake feeling rested. Even a weekend spent skiing does not recharge your batteries. You dread Monday morning. You count the hours until the end of the week. You duck extra projects you know will make a difference in your next review. You can’t believe how stressed you’ve become. You are looking for help.

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What causes burnout:
Sometimes burnout comes along with choosing a mission-driven career—emotionally draining work can leave you physically exhausted and feeling as though life has lost its glow. Sometimes it comes when you’ve been given added responsibilities at work—doing two or more jobs instead of the one you were hired for takes all of your energy and joy. Sometimes burnout happens when you have big responsibilities and you just aren’t seeing the progress you expect of yourself. Sometimes it happens for parents who work at home—perhaps the world’s most unrelenting 24-hour-a-day job.

Signs and symptoms of burnout:
The symptoms of burnout are varied. They may include feelings of exhaustion, loss of joy and many different physical manifestations of stress. You may find yourself short-tempered, forgetful or apathetic. Burnout treatment can help you recover and feel like yourself again.

Focused solutions for burnout recovery:
Feeling burned out does not necessarily mean you need a change of career or a major overhaul in every area of your life. But it is your body and mind’s way of telling you that it is time to stop and take stock of what is going on. It is important to not assume burnout will resolve itself when you finish that big project or finally get the promotion you’ve been tapped to receive. Recovery is possible--burnout gets better when you address its causes.

Keeping track of what is happening:
When I meet with clients to talk about burnout treatment, I first focus on some very specific questions. In a supportive and collaborative setting, burnout recovery begins with discussions about symptoms and resentment and feelings of frustration clients may have about work. With a beginning understanding of these things, our attention turns to creative solutions. Sometimes burnout recovery includes keeping a log of projects and related stress, a small project that can help an introspective process unfold. A log can also help keep clients on track as they work to implement practical solutions to workplace burnout.

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Physical distress:
When I talk with clients about burnout treatment, I also focus on how their body has fared. Stress, especially long-term stress, can have a cascading effect on health. Elevated blood pressure, stomach complaints, body aches and pains—burnout can manifest itself physically in a variety of ways. A physical exam can help sort out the common physical manifestations of burnout, and when appropriate I work in collaboration with clients’ physicians to make sure stress is being managed in a way that supports physical health and body recovery. And with a clean bill of health my clients can begin a burnout recovery self-care program that includes such things as gradually increasing exercise, meditation and relaxation training.

Managing sleep disruption:
I find that many of my clients who are experiencing burnout are also having difficulty with sleep, in fact sleep disturbance is a barometer of burnout for some people. If you find yourself going to sleep worrying about work or ruminating about projects or coworkers in the middle of the night, burnout may be getting in the way of your rest. There are many useful interventions to improve sleep, and we will address them together if sleep is a problem for you.

Discerning and setting goals as part of burnout recovery:
Goal setting is sometimes lost in the sea of responsibility, but goal setting is a useful tool for someone pursuing burnout recovery when their job is taking over their life. If you are clear about your goals—both your daily goals and those that are part of your personal big picture, you will become a better limit setter, and as an added bonus you will also be able to know when you are done for the day. And if you can be done at work, it means you may have time for other things you enjoy—exercise, hobbies, family and friends—all of which can boost your mood and help you de-stress.

Are the tools of positive psychology helpful in burnout recovery?
When providing psychotherapy for burnout recovery, I also focus on the tenets of positive psychology. This exciting field of psychology informs us about the many ways we can optimize our sense of well-being. Many of the evidence-based strategies in positive psychology are simple, powerful and take very little time out of your day. All are designed to help us experience life from a new point of view, a perspective that promotes positive engagement, positive relationships, and crafting a life of meaning.

Burnout is common, burnout recovery is possible. Psychotherapy for burnout can help you develop new coping strategies and find the pleasure in life again.

I would be glad to talk with you about burnout recovery.

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