Burnout is the new normal. There is no getting around the research and the trends that demonstrate people are checking out. The “Great Resignation” is actually a great awakening for executives and leaders to the condition that exists in the workplace.
Decision fatigue, collaboration fatigue, crisis fatigue, covid fatigue, compassion fatigue, chronic fatigue, and the list of clever names used to talk about the same thing – burnout. People have had enough and it is really time to do something differently.
In graduate school (1998) I began researching stress and burnout and have worked with thousands of individuals since then to move beyond the physical exhaustion (adrenal fatigue) and the mental barriers that kept them stuck. Today we need a complete shift in how one considers burnout because the everyday conditions like distractions, interruptions, accelerated pace, increased demands and information overload contribute to burnout and organizational changes are needed to keep everyone from the continued decline that is showing up in workplace after workplace.
In my early research on burnout, I discovered something interesting. At first glance it seemed that those experiencing burnout also experienced a lack of caring or connection with others. It is called depersonalization. It seemed obvious that burnout caused a lack of caring. Or was it so obvious? What if the opposite were true, that burnout was caused by a lack of effective caring?
I began wondering, because at the time, I was a Registered Nurse and knew other nurses, who, despite their “burden” of caring were able to stay compassionate and present with their patients. As nurses, it is our job to care. The nursing process is designed to operate from a set of values and principles that supports the wellbeing of our patients.
So what happens in this process, in healthcare and in the general workplace, when caring becomes the problem? Is burnout really inevitable can we continue to care while maintaining our integrity as an individual?
One of the challenges is knowing how to care effectively and connect with others without being exhausted and drained in the process. What happens more often is “over-caring” with exhaustion as a consequence. Over-caring is when you personally take on the responsibility for those you are caring about, leaving no room to nourish, refresh or recharge yourself. Over-caring is exhausting. Over-caring does not include you in the caring equation.
The reaction to stress is to disconnect from other people while the solution is actually the opposite, to engage your heart in order to prevent burnout. Your heart is better at managing the stress reaction than your brain and will come up with more powerful solutions when you engage it. The stress effect creates tunnel vision with short sighted and reactive behaviors. Your heart has long term solutions that provide more win win for everyone.
3 tips to operate from your heart and not burnout:
Tip 1: Look to God for the strength.
Trying too hard gets in the way and we are taught by God’s Word to look to him for our strength:
I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:13, AMP
Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6
These scriptures are just 2 that remind us that we need to lean on Jesus for understanding and strength and in this way will be restored.
Tip 2: Listen from your heart.
When we open ourselves and listen with our spiritual ears, we can receive divine revelation which provides unique guidance for the situation. This guidance doesn’t come from our natural mind and offers a way around, what may seem like an impossible situation.
Tip 3: Operate from your heart.
Despite the challenge, be grateful for the good that does exist and express gratitude to God for these things. This changes one’s perspective and opens up news ways of looking at the problem.
Caring effectively means you put first recognize who is controlling everything in the universe – God. Ask for divine help, revelation and understanding then give thanks as y9ou wait for the revelation to arrive. Stay open in your heart – not with your strength, but through the strength of Christ – who is always available and present.