Burnout Healing & Prevention

Is Confucius’s wisdom: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”, inconceivable, or is it something we should understand and apply in order to rise above the challenges at work? This article raises the importance of establishing meaning, being in the flow, and avoiding burnout if we want to not just survive, but thrive at work and in life.

As a NLP coach and trainer, I’ve noticed that a reasonably consistent theme underlies the predominant intention of my clients for wanting coaching or the common personal development goals that are elicited at the courses that I facilitate.

A summary of this theme is the inability to cope with or resolve challenging circumstances resulting in feelings of overwhelm, helplessness and frustration that can escalate to mental exhaustion, physical fatigue and emotional bankruptcy. This summary is similar to the way burnout is described (Shirom, 1989).

Stress and burnout cause dysfunction amongst individuals and couples, as well as within organisations (cited in Zeidner, 2005), resulting in lower productivity, higher absenteeism, poorer morale and performance issues (cited in Dierendonck, Garssen & Visser, 2005a). Such stress also causes a type of rigidity that can limit awareness and reduce people’s ability to process information (Zeidner, 1998).

Professor Kavita Vedhara (2010) provides scientific evidence for the fact that stress negatively affects the immune system. With burnout being the result of ongoing stress, resulting in fatigue and low energy levels, it stands to reason that a person experiencing burnout will have a higher than normal risk of becoming ill, and once ill, they will experience slower than normal healing from illness. Additionally, the mental exhaustion that is associated with burnout can result in such individuals making poor choices which can perpetuate already problematic situations.

Most existing burnout prevention and treatment programmes have a...