From a macro perspective, based on everything I've learned, 'burnout' or chronic overwhelm stems from social inequities, power imbalances, and the dehumanization of people as though we're not human beings with basic needs. Depending on the type of burnout you're experiencing, ableism could be making it difficult to access the diagnosis, support, and/or accommodations you need to thrive. Depending on your race, gender, and/or sexual orientation, you may be doing more work for less pay as compared to your counterparts.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may be dealing with levels of stress that far exceed what any person should ever have to endure. Depending on your culture, you may be in the midst of reckoning with ongoing consequences of generational trauma. Depending on the policies your government promotes, you may not have access to parental leave or affordable childcare. Whatever your reason(s) for experiencing chronic overwhelm, it's vital to remember that you exist within a broader context where there are many moving pieces out of your control.
From a micro perspective, I invite you to do a thought experiment with me: what if it's possible to set up mechanisms of action that can prevent the depth of burnout you are likely to experience and increase your capacity to recover from it?
Now, we get into what you can set up for yourself, what you can help your family and friends set up, what you can promote at your company, what you can help your teams engage in, and what you can share with people coming to you for ideas. I first learned about these at a trauma-informed coaching event with Mastin Kipp. Someone in the audience shared how debilitating it felt to get back to work after experiencing burnout from something they loved doing. Mastin then shared that 'burnout' goes beyond work because there are three key pieces to think about in terms of burnout prevention *and* recovery.
These include: work (yes), *and* support, *and* rest/recovery. If there's not enough support and/or rest/recovery compared to the amount of work, then the severity of the 'burnout' is likely to increase. If these last two are missing altogether, then 'burning out' or reaching debilitating levels of overwhelm is just a matter of time.
It changed my life when I first started implementing it and I have pretty much ran with it ever since. Now, I help executive coaching clients work through it. For the purposes of this article/series, let's expand on these three ingredients:
1. Work: I invite you to think about "work" in the broader sense of whatever it is that you're working through. This can include professional work, as well as parenting, navigating the healthcare system, facing gender bias, doing a constant cost/benefit analysis as to whether or not it's safe to be who you are, etc.
2. Support: I invite you to think about it in terms of personal relationships with friends, family, and community, as well as professional supports with colleagues, therapists, doctors, counsellors, executive coaches, healthcare professionals, social workers, etc.
3. Rest/recovery: I invite you to think about it in terms of passive rest like sleep, as well as active rest like engaging in positive social interactions, hobbies, movement, connection to something greater than ourselves, etc.
Let's start this series by thinking of these three pieces as the three legs of a bar stool. If any one is off or missing, you fall off the chair aka experience burnout. For the next week, I invite you to consider three things:
a) What are you 'working' through?
b) What kind of support do you need?
c) What type of rest are you in deficit of?
Noticing is the first step to profound change. Please share this article with someone who could use it. Let's tune in next week and work through this together.
For Executive Coaching support for you, your team, and/or your organization, book a Discovery Call with me today!