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Burnt-out? 3 Pivotal Questions to Ask Yourself.

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

A FlexJobs survey (from July 2020) indicated that 75% of people have experienced burn-out at work, with 40% saying they’ve experienced burn-out specifically during the pandemic since 37% of the respondents say they are working longer hours than usual since the pandemic started.

Although burn-out is considered an "occupational phenomenon," by the World Health Organization, it can affect many areas of your life including relationships and your health. Stress and burn-out has been shown to lead to a number of issues including depression, diabetes, sleep problems as well as cardiovascular disease.

Recently one of my clients who is on a 50% medical leave, due to being burnt-out, was asked to come back to the office (she lives in Denmark). Knowing going back to the office would take a further toll on her health, and after working with me regarding whether she should go back or not, she diplomatically said she wouldn't. You might think she jeopardized her job by not complying but instead her manager agreed, and she can still work from home. That day she learned a powerful lesson about not taking the request personally, establishing boundaries at work and maintaining her power.

If you've ever experienced burn-out, here's some questions you can ask yourself?

1. Why do you feel you need to do so much?

2. Why do you feel you need to continue with what you are doing?

3. Is the work you're doing more important than your health and relationships?

Some people wear busy-ness as a badge and that can be toxic. Unfortunately, our North American culture values and reinforces overwork. Just look at the increasing numbers of burn-out among workers each year. According to a recent Microsoft led Work Trend Index report (March 2021), "47 percent of workers in Canada feel exhausted (versus the 39 percent global average) and 51 percent feel stressed (versus the 42 percent global average).

I was one of the 47%; I overworked and overachieved to the point of burn-out. I was in education for many years, and I taught at a private school. I was stressed, dissatisfied, and fatigued (typical characteristics of burn-out). I had no work-life balance similar to a lot of professionals these days, especially in this digital communication age. I was staying late to mark and prep or taking my work home. I struggled to get up in the mornings and increasingly needed to take power naps during lunch.

Not only was I feeling unhappy and unfulfilled, I was also diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and Non-REM parasomnia (a sleeping disorder). I knew that route was not sustainable, or fulfilling, so I took steps to change it around. I became the coach I am today with a lot better work/life balance and satisfaction.

If you are experiencing burn-out, please re-visit the questions above and do something about it. This could look like taking medical leave as well, establishing better boundaries at work, doing your own thing, or looking for a new job that has a better work/life balance culture.

I understand it's hard to do anything when feeling burn-out, however, what's the alternative? Continue the same path? I hope not.

If you are just getting into a new position or interviewing for one, cleverly asking about work/life balance culture is not a bad idea. For example, in an interview, you can ask the hiring manager, “Can you tell me about the most successful person you ever hired and what exactly they did to be successful?” This question reveals what the manager is looking for and what you need to do to get promoted. If it doesn’t include work/life balance, then you’ll know it’s not a fit for you. Nor is setting the tone a bad idea.

For instance, you can genuinely assess the time it will take to do something and say it will take that time, don't promise it sooner. You can also say one task will be dropped for now, or for good, if one is added.

Your health and relationships are more important than what you do. As my dad always said, "If you don't have your health, you don't have anything."

If you feel you need assistance with establishing boundaries, preventing burn-out or any things I covered above, please contact me for a Get Acquainted Call to see if I can help.


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