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How to Recover From a Burnout in a Professional Career

November 13th, 2017 · No Comments · how to recover from a burnout

More and more professional people are struggling with how to recover from a burnout.  While some think that burnout is a hypochrondriacal fantasy — it’s not.

how to recover from a burnout

…Is your work life feeling utterly robotic?

Depth psychotherapists know that burnout is a psychological condition with dramatic effects.  Some of the most commonly noted characteristics of burnout are cynicism, depression, listlessness, lack of energy, indifference and apathy. It often occurs when you feel that how you carry out your job is not under your control, or you’re working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, or there’s no social support.

A Pandemic in Professional Work

There is more and  more burnout now among professional workers of many types.  It tends to strike highly motivated “can do” personalities.  Such people work extremely hard, often for very long hours, and continually set the bar higher for themselves.  They tend to become professionals in fields that include medicine, law, engineering, teaching, accounting and management.  They’re motivated to do a very good job, but can often find themselves in unsupportive environments where they’re not appreciated.

First Recognize The Markers of Burnout

Three markers that at least raise the question of whether you are suffering from burnout are:

  • physical and emotional exhaustion;
  • cynicism and detachment, especially with regard to your work; and,
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.

If you’re suffering from these three, or suspect that you are, it may well be time to consult with a therapist about burnout.

The Burnout Double-Bind

Burnout almost always has elements of depression and anxiety within it, due to certain common characteristics of burnout situations.  Such situation often involve someone who is highly motivated to do a good job and bring positive benefit, who is put into a situations where he or she is powerless to achieve a good or a positive outcome, due to constraints that are beyond their control.

This situation very often occurs in the helping professions — medicine, teaching, nursing and so on.  However, it can certainly effect individuals who are well outside of what is normally thought of as a “helping profession”.

Example.  Kelly is a mechanical engineer with a long record of working extremely hard to overcome formidible obstacles and achieve unexpectedly good results.  Kelly has spent 12 years at “PartCo”, has been promoted many times, and is now the head of one of the firm’s divisions.  She’s achieved much in this role, surrounding herself with hand-picked, very high quality people who form the backbone of the division.  A sense of team, deep loyalty, and the absolute importance of working extremely hard to belong and contribute have been key values, with long, deep roots in Kelly’s personal story.

Due to sudden market changes, the demand for the parts Kelly’s division creates has halved.  The new CEO has told Kelly to cut 45% of her staff, and is drastically cutting her budget.   Kelly now sees little opportunity in her division.  Previously committed to fostering team and supporting people, now she must let many go.  Values of loyalty and hard work and setting an example that were fundamental until recently, now seem completely irrelevant.  “I’m just serving time now,” she says, ‘it’s all I can do to drag myself to work, yet I have to work harder than ever just to keep things going.”

Burnout As a Call to Your Own Journey

The journey out of burnout is often demanding.  It may involve very substantial changes in life direction.  To authentically move one’s life past burnout may involve considerable personal work, attentively listening to, and waiting upon what is trying to emerging in the individual’s life.

Nonetheless, in the short run, there are several key elements of self care that individuals seeking how to recover from a burnout should consider:

  • Avoid taking on any new work commitments or responsibilities;
  • Delegate as many things as possible;
  • Avoid jumping from one stressful, time-consuming project to the next in order to give your mind and body a chance to recover;
  • Limit the presence of intrusive technologies into your life as much as possible; and,
  • Move beyond your professional group(s), so as to be in contact with how others experience you in a non-work context.
  • Discover where in your life you find your most strongly motivating passions and explore them.
  • Find ways — through therapy, journalling, artistic or other expression — to listen to your inner being.

Burnout and Integrity

The work of Jungian depth psychotherapy, in particular, focuses on uncovering the authentic self and the unique individual.  The challenge of burnout may be excruciating, but therapy work that involves finding ways to listen to the depths of the self, may transform it into an essential element in our journey to wholeness.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst

PHOTOS: Attribution herval (Creative Commons Licence) ; (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2017 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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