The term “burnout” has exploded in attention and popularity, and with so many references, it can be tough to know what it even means.
Here are 10 questions the Mayo Clinic recommends reflecting on if you’re worried you might be experiencing burnout:
Have you become cynical or critical at work?
Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
Do you find it hard to concentrate?
Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or not feel?
Have your sleep habits changed?
Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems, or other physical complaints?
Did you answer yes to three or more questions? If so, this guide is for you.
I have the immense pleasure of calling burnout specialist Erin Rocchio a dear friend and colleague. Erin has spent over a decade helping organizations and individuals navigate burnout in the workplace, using research-based tools and practices. There is no one I know who better understands burnout and the ways in which you can both heal from and proactively avoid it. Throughout this guide, we're sharing resources from her website, Wholeness at Work, that I highly recommend if you or someone you know is struggling with burnout.
Ask better questions; get better answers. I’m a BIG fan of the questions Erin recommends asking yourself when trying to decipher what role you play in your own burnout vs. that role of your boss or organizational culture:
What can I own about the way I’m working?
What choices am I making that aren’t aligned with my values or needs?
Have I delegated what I know I can/should to my team?
Have I attempted a courageous conversation with my boss about more sustainable ways of fulfilling my role?
What might my boss and/or company own about how I’m asked to work?
What about my company’s culture calls for a burnout-style approach to work?
Am I empowered to challenge this approach or find a more balanced way?
Are those in charge open and willing to work with employees/leaders?
Find all the questions and context in Erin's guide to burnout.
Resources for Burnout
Self-Assess Your Burnout Level
Take Erin’s free burnout assessment. If you’re even the least bit curious about burnout and how it manifests, this is worth your time.
Learn More About Burnout
Knowledge is power, and Erin has some of the best burnout content on the web. Whether you want to better understand burnout, explore its three stages, learn about preventative measures, or more, the Wholeness at Work site has you covered.
Like Tarot, But For Burnout
As much as I love pulling a good tarot card (and boy do I), there is an undeniable joy to pulling from a topic specific self-care deck. Erin’s Enneagram x Burnout card deck is just that, offering personal burnout prevention and recovery tips by Enneagram type.
Mental Health First Aid Training
LinkedIn first brought this incredible resource to my attention and I had to know more! If you’re also curious, my podcast conversation with Jamy Conrad is not to be missed.
Weighted Blankets: Instant Stress Relief
You know how some people live for that first sip of coffee? I live for the first few minutes after I settle in under my weighted blanket. There's truly nothing like it. I splurged for this fancy one, but there are so many great, affordable options to consider!
It's OK to seek support
When we’re lost in the woods, it’s hard to see our way out of the forest alone. Erin offers options ranging from executive coaching to a self-directed coaching program. I truly can’t recommend working with her enthusiastically enough.
If nothing else, please remember this…
There is no shame in experiencing burnout.
You're not alone.
You're so much more than what you do or don’t accomplish.
And things will get easier.
The One Where Jill Admits Defeat (and Then Learns From It)
Last week I hit a wall. After months of pushing myself to m
aintain an increasingly hectic schedule, I reached such acute levels of exhaustion and stress that I literally broke down crying (into my coffee) in a Starbucks parking lot. Minutes before, I’d pulled into the drive-thru out of what felt like absolute necessity. Waiting for my iced triple shot blonde latte, the inner productivity coach in my own head kept repeating, “Just make it a few more hours. You can do this. You have to do this. People achieve things when they’re tired all the time. Just keep going.” I’m beginning to realize that my inner productivity coach can be a real a-hole. But back to the drive-thru.
"How's it going?" the barista asked as she handed me my drink. "Great!" I forced back from behind a huge, almost jaw-clenching grin. But then I took my first sip and felt something in me break. I barely made it into a parking spot before the dam broke, and then sat there, sobbing, for at least 15 minutes. The tears wouldn’t stop and (for once) I didn’t shove them down. I’d taken on too much, and the pressure to achieve it all had finally gotten the better of me. As the tears began to slow, I felt clear for the first time in weeks: I knew I had to let myself fail. Then and there, I called off the podcast episode I’d planned to record that afternoon. Some of you are thinking, so what? It w
as one “task” you didn’t get done. Big deal. And sure, it was just one thing. But what lurked underneath was so much more than that. I had pushed myself to the absolute brink of that deadline - just like I had with at least four other things that week. And in not recording that episode, I knew I’d miss a planned podcast deadline for the first time in the history of my show. Beneath the surface of the decision, I had to admit that I’d overstretched myself to such extremes that my physical and mental health were crumbling. Something had to give. I had to wave my own white flag.
As the week progressed, I realized the newsletter also wasn’t going to happen. My tank was empty and I still had to show up on-site with a client. Anything outside of that engagement got the axe and I felt like such a failure. I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve hit a wall, but it's been something of a pattern throughout my career. Do more. Be more. Achieve more. Don’t stop. Earn their respect. Keep pushing. Be someone special. Show them you can.
Be so “good” that they can’t help but love you.
Like so many, I’ve knit my self-esteem so tightly into my sense of self-worth that they can barely be pulled apart. And let me tell you, my friend, it’s a recipe for burnout. One I know well, given how spectacularly I've crashed and burned (out) twice in my career. The first time a wrong decision (one I wouldn’t have made if I’d been in a healthy headspace) cost me two close friends and colleagues. That was almost ten years ago, and it still haunts me. The second time my personal life went through the ringer, when the cynicism and stress of my job leaked over into my home life and I became a shell of my former self. It sucked. For everyone involved. Today, I’m feeling proud of myself for choosing to drop the ball last week. And even more proud of recognizing my Starbucks sob-fest for what it was: a big red flag urging me to re-chart my path and avoid full-on burnout for a third time. Because truthfully, I never, ever want to build and create from that place again. I’ve got a long way to go, but that win feels like a HUGE victory. If any of what I’ve shared resonates with you, I hope you’ll make use of the resources in this post in your own life. We live in a society that glorifies sacrifice for productivity's sake. And sure the work we do is important.
It’s just not as important as you are.
To double espresso lattes,