How To Recover From Burnout
Your path to recovery with burnout starts with naming it. If you are debating whether or not you are experiencing workplace burnout, you probably are. But the question is, is it chronic, persistent burnout or a short-term lull in your career? If it’s the former, you can develop the tools to prevent persistent burnout altogether. To find out where you are in our journey, you can take our burnout assessment here.
If you are experiencing burnout, you are not alone. Harvard Business Review did a recent survey that resulted in 62% of participants indicating that they were struggling to manage their workloads and had experienced burnout “often” or “extremely often” in the previous three months.
While those numbers are astounding—there is good news. If you are looking for how to recover from burnout, we have created tools for you. But this journey won’t be easy. You are going to have to dig deep within yourself to find out what is causing your burnout, and then work through the solutions to bring you back to health. We are here to support you in that effort.
Burnout Recovery Plan
If you are in the throes of burnout, unable to see the steps ahead of you, we highly recommend working through your burnout with Erin Rocchio directly, whether individually or via our Wholeness At Work program, which will take you through the comprehensive, science-backed approach.
Most significant life changes first begin with an acknowledgment that something needs to change. Recognizing and coming to terms with the reality that you’re experiencing burnout is an incredibly crucial first step. Beyond this insight, you also need a roadmap, support structures, and a vision to heal from persistent burnout. As with any ailment, whether physical or mental, your approach to recovery needs to start with a plan. It is not enough to just notice that you are experiencing burnout, but you must take action once that knowledge sets in. In Wholeness At Work, we call this plan the Roadmap To Wholeness. And while there are several steps in this plan, we want to call out some that you can get started on today. Before diving into our Roadmap to Wholeness, we must first understand the well-being we are referring to.
The Seven Domains of Wellbeing
To combat burnout, we need to understand its loveable cousin—wellbeing. Roughly defined as the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy, wellbeing is a core component of our ultimate aim here, which is wholeness. Wholeness is simply the state of being continually aware, compassionate, and inclusive of all aspects of yourself. Wholeness is knowing what it means for you to be well and returning to it repeatedly throughout your life and career.
So what exactly are the seven domains of wellbeing? According to research from the Yolk Consultancy, they include:
- Mental and Emotional Health
- Physical Health
- Competency and Action
- Meaning and Purpose
- Financial Health
- Networks and Community
Observing these seven aspects of wellness allows us to recognize the areas in our life where we are strong and the areas that we can improve upon for our holistic wellbeing. Each of these domains plays an important role in our health and wellness. If you’re curious as to which domains are currently experiencing lack, go through each of these seven aspects and rate each one on a scale of 1-10. We would all rate 10’s across the board in a perfect world. However, it’s normal to notice that some of these may rank very high while others are very low. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you observe these wellness domains, and be careful not to attach emotion to the outcome. We are simply using this as a tool to notice the areas in our lives that could use more intentional TLC.
Roadmap To Wholeness
Now that we've explored some of the foundations of wellness let's get into our Roadmap to Wholeness. We have created seven steps to help guide you away from burnout and towards your most authentic, whole self.Discover and Honor Your Personal Vision
In Erin’s extensive experience as an executive coach and in her academic training on adult learning and behavioral change, one idea has resonated with her: that is, all successful change begins with an internally motivated, intentional, and meaningful personal vision. This includes envisioning our Ideal Self, the person that we want to be. Key aspects of our Ideal Selves that personal visions illuminate include our passions and loves, our core values, and our sense of purpose.
Get Real with Yourself
After you’ve given some thought to who you want to be, let’s come to terms with who you are right now. To get where we want to go, we must know where we are and the steps needed to head in that direction. Some helpful questions include:
- How burned out am I (not at all, mildly, moderately, severely)? What is my current level of mental and emotional health?
- Where is my stress, ill-health, or burnout showing up in my life and work?
- Have I seen patterns of this before in my work or other parts of my life? How so?
- How is my current emotional and mental wellbeing affecting my business? My important relationships?
- What do I need to feel whole and well in this moment?
- If I’m honest with myself, what are my strengths and weaknesses?
Find Focus and a Clear Mind
Let’s take a look at your mindset. Understanding how we think helps us find healthier ways to navigate through life. Our thought patterns and beliefs significantly shape how we experience the world and our role in it. As we encounter circumstances, our brains create neural pathways that show us how to respond and take action to observations and data. But just because we have a familiar neural pathway that shows us how to respond to something doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s correct, or that it’s the healthiest way to respond to something. When we take a look at our thought patterns and how we respond to things, we can recognize our patterns and consciously decide to respond in ways that are best for us.
Boundaries are another vital aspect of a focused and clear mind. Boundaries can be one of the biggest signs that we love and respect ourselves and others enough to create healthy interactions. Wondering how to set boundaries? Here are a few simple steps:
- Identify and define a boundary that needs to be set.
- Communicate with those around you about what your boundary is so they can be aware of it.
- Keep it simple - don’t over-explain. The people in your life that care about you will want to honor and respect your boundaries and don’t need to receive an explanation unless you deem it necessary.
- Set consequences for crossing this boundary. It’s one thing to set a boundary, but you need to be the one upholding it. If your boundary is crossed, try to communicate with compassion towards the person who crossed your boundary about what your boundary was and why it is important to you.
Build an Aligned Team
While having confidence in yourself and your capabilities is important, it is very helpful to have a team supporting you as you navigate through your burnout journey. You don’t have to “go it alone”! Make sure that your support team has common values and a common vision to ensure that you all remain on the same page as your support one another. Clear communication, accountability, and adaptability are important in a high-functioning team.
Commit to Wholeness Practices
Let’s debunk some common “self-care” myths. Self-care does not always mean “treating yourself” or temporary feel-good moments and activities. REAL self-care means actively participating in habits and practices that support your wellbeing. And sometimes true self-care may not be fun in the short term but will help you in the long term. A great example of this is physical exercise. Not everyone likes to exercise. Sometimes we can even dread it. But physical movement has been proven time and again to be positively impactful in nearly every aspect of our lives and does help maintain long-term wellness.
There are a few kinds of renewal practices that we should focus on if we want to encourage wholeness. Mindfulness, compassion, and physical self-care help us restore our holistic wellness. Another way to tell if a practice will contribute to your wellbeing without contributing to your burnout is to see how you can make your practices fun, playful or enjoyable, such as a peaceful yoga class on the beach or a dance-off with your toddler in the living room. We have 108 mindful practices in our Enneagram X Burnout Card Deck to help you focus on this very important pillar of wholeness.
Get Support and Accountability
Beyond just having an aligned team, we need to have a “personal board of directors,” a body of trusted friends and advisors that serve two key purposes: support and accountability, like a therapist, a peer, a mentor, and a neighbor. Each of these people in your life serves a different purpose and is a part of your personal board of directors that helps you in your life journey. A helpful way to discover this network is to refer back to the seven domains of wellbeing and assign someone in your life to each category. This will help to ensure that you have a well-rounded and diverse support group in your life.
Nurture Healthy Workplace Culture
While there are many definitions of work culture, organization development (OD) experts (i.e., Edgar Schein) describe company culture as the “way we do things around here,” or as an accumulation of at least these three dimensions:
- Values: What we say we stand for
- Beliefs: Stated and unconscious
- Norms: Actual behaviors consistently reinforced by leadership
A healthy culture looks honestly at itself, celebrates what is working, and adjusts continuously to better meet the needs of both its people and the business. It values learning and growth, collaborative relationships, trust, and positivity. A great resource to learn more about this is from the research of Dr. Brene Brown, an expert in vulnerability, boundaries, and trust in the workplace.
Life After Burnout
Now that you’ve learned more about burnout and wellness practices to encourage wholeness take the final step towards how to recover after burnout: committing. Are there any new practices that you’d like to incorporate into your routine? What is working in your life and what isn’t working? How can you create a healthier relationship with yourself, the people you interact with, and in your workplace?
If you can, take a pen and paper to journal your thoughts. Writing down our thoughts and intentions can be very powerful in helping us discover new things about ourselves and help us to create new neural pathways that allow us to commit to the ways we want to change to be more aligned with the person we want to be.If you found this helpful or you have more questions, we would love to connect with you to see how you can learn more ways that you can free yourself and others from burnout for good. Take a look at our encompassing self-guided books to encourage workplaces and livelihoods that are healthy, happy, and thriving. Because you are innately deserving of wholeness and wellbeing.