Feeling Burnt Out? This Might Bring Respite

Burnout and Connection

Do you ever find yourself withdrawing from the world?

Have friendships been put on the back burner, as there's just too much to do? Have you rationalised isolation because it saves you time for more important tasks?

You may be experiencing a stage of burnout.

One of the 12 stages of burnout, as described by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North is categorised as "withdrawal". You begin to withdraw from family and friends. Any kind of social invitation to parties, events no longer feels fun, but rather, a burden.

According to Dr Christina Maslach, co-author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory, human connection, broadly speaking, can be the strongest antidote to burnout.

Is the thing you may be avoiding the key to your recovery?

“What we found is that people’s health, well-being, everything in life, is way better if you’re connected with other people,” she said. “That social network, that each of you have each other’s back, that they’re there for you and you’re there for them, that’s like money in the bank. That’s a precious, precious resource.”

It feels a little contradictory.

After experiencing a close burnout last year, part of my recovery was stepping down from various roles where human connection was a natural part of the eco system.

My burnout antidote was time alone in nature, or over a cup of tea, with nothing to achieve.

Interestingly, as the months progressed, I increasingly felt the acute absence of human connection. It culminated around six months later when I realised my full recovery could not occur without this aspect of my life reinstated.

I have often asked, if connection is so good, why did I want to withdraw?

Looking back, I can see the holes in my connection bucket did not come from connection itself, but rather, carrying the leadership burden of driving eco systems where connection thrived. The connection was good, the burden of multiple responsibilities heavier than I could carry was not.

This thought brings me back to my cup of tea.

I love my tea.

There's something so special about a cup of tea with a friend.

Because a conversation over a cup of tea is free of any burden to achieve, or any expectation to carry.

Your hands, happily occupied holding your cup.

Your mouth, with every sip, relieving you of the duty to produce words where they are not always needed.

Each sip, beautiful in so many ways.

It is God's gift of connection, free of burden.

Perhaps it's time to revisit the heavy responsibilities you are carrying and ask yourself, is it yours to carry? Is it time to let go?

Indulge in life.