• Tania Caza

Are you too "Busy" to Burnout?

I have been hearing about burnout for a number of years, even before the pandemic. Have you ever witnessed this person, or maybe it was you?


While passing someone in the hall at work, “Hey! How ya doin’?” As they rush past you, without even looking at you or missing a beat they respond “I’m so busy!” and off they rush to their next meeting. Sound familiar? And, that was before the pandemic!


Today, it’s starting a Zoom or Teams call. “How are you doing today?” The response…, “Gosh..I’m so busy I haven’t had a chance to pee yet!” Hmmm???


When did “I’m so busy” become the answer to “How are you?”. Remember when the response was related to an emotion? I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I’m so excited. Nope…I don’t ever hear that anymore. Now I hear one of the following answers:

· I’m so busy

· I’m so tired

· I’m exhausted

· I’m hangin in there


At first, I thought that there was something about glamourizing how busy we are and becoming part of the “busy” crowd. And maybe there was some truth to that BC (Before Covid). But now, no. Busyness has become a massive problem leading ultimately to BURNOUT!


Yikes! This is the number one topic that I am hearing about. Exhaustion, fatigue, being depleted and yet still finding something left to power through. And, now, from leaders I am hearing..how do I help my team, if I am feeling this way myself!?


So, I thought I would tackle this topic in two posts: 1) What is Burnout? And 2) What the heck can we do about it. Today I will tackle the first part.


As I started learning more about this topic I ran across many definitions of Burnout. My favourite on the topic is the book, Burnout – The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. And trust me, this book is always within reach, very well read, and has a bunch of those tabs and highlights throughout. It is well loved 😊


The authors use the definition of Burnout that was first coined by Herbert Freudenberger in 1975 called “Staff Burnout Syndrome” and there are three components:

  1. Emotional Exhaustion – the fatigue that comes from caring too much for too long;

  2. Depersonalization – the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion; and

  3. Decreased Sense of Accomplishment – an unconquerable sense of futility: feeling that nothing you do makes any difference

And according to the authors, research since this definition has found that Emotional Exhaustion is most strongly linked to the negative impacts on our health, relationships and work.


What resonates with you when you see this definition? Are you “busy”? Are you burned out?


Stay tuned for the next post on what the authors say you can do about Burnout!

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