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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers


As a psychologist, I sometimes see people return to work from medical leave too soon. When this happens, their efforts fail and they end up back on leave again. In both cases when this has occurred in my practice, my clients said they felt “better” and were ready to get back to their desks. They believed they […] Continue Reading

A lot of people feel overwhelmed by how much they have to do on a daily basis. They end up not doing a lot of things well as a result. But they sometimes don’t realize that it is okay – and even appropriate – to hire people to help them out at home. I work […] Continue Reading

People tend to panic when their medical leave application gets denied by their insurance company. In my experience, a primary reason that people’s claims get denied is because their applications, which their physicians' submit, are incomplete. An insurance company has every right to deny claims that are incomplete. Universities don’t admit students that submit incomplete […] Continue Reading

People that find themselves in burnout are often in burnout because their standards are too high. One of the tasks I work with my clients on when they are in burnout is to help them lower their standards. Details in the following story have been changed to protect privacy. A colleague of mine named Sansom […] Continue Reading

I have worked with many people in burnout and have observed that they tend to push themselves really hard, sometimes for years, and end up exhausted. Not surprisingly, the quality of their work can suffer over the longer-term. I spend a lot of time with clients talking about how they can change their approach to […] Continue Reading

One of the first things I get asked when working with clients that are in burnout is how long it will take them to recover. Based on experience, my response is that it typically takes about seven weeks before a person will start feeling that they have energy again. “Really? Seven weeks?” is the typical response. […] Continue Reading

Many people are in burnout because their company’s expectations concerning what one person can accomplish are unrealistic.  When a client tells me their company demands too much of them, I ask them whether they have discussed the problem with their boss. If they haven’t, I suggest we spend some time exploring how to ask for […] Continue Reading

There are several reasons why people find themselves in burnout. Frequently, it is those people that are strongly motivated, dedicated and heavily committed to their work that find themselves most vulnerable to burnout.  Many of my clients have said that their jobs were way too big when we first sat down to talk. From what […] Continue Reading

I have worked with many people in burnout, and in my experience counselling them, pretty much everyone has recovered that has worked hard to learn what they needed to learn. I once worked with a client, however, that wasn’t recovering as quickly as I was expecting him to, which left me confused. He appeared to be […] Continue Reading

On occasion, a client will arrive at my office feeling completely overwhelmed. Together, we work to address this feeling as our first task so that the person can move to a place of calm.  I am currently feeling overwhelmed at work myself. I have bitten off more special projects than I can chew at the […] Continue Reading

A number of my clients arrive at my office in burnout. Sometimes I suggest that they take short-term medical leave because they are exhausted. Sometimes that leave lasts more than 12 weeks and transitions to long-term medical leave. Today, I am writing about short-term medical leave only. Most people know whether they have medical leave […] Continue Reading

A number of clients I have worked with have taken short-term medical leave from their jobs because of burnout. Sometimes the short-term medical leave has extended to long-term medical leave, which means that the person has been absent from work for more than 12 weeks. Read more about when to take medical leave for burnout. […] Continue Reading

I often meet with people in my private practice that are experiencing burnout, but that cannot give themselves permission to take a vacation from their job to rest. Read more: What is burnout? and Burnout is a continuum. Sometimes they perceive they are unable to leave their desks to take vacation because the work demands […] Continue Reading

I often work with people in my practice who are experiencing burnout. Sometimes it is appropriate for individuals to take a medical leave (also called disability leave or stress leave) from their jobs in order to recover. This becomes especially relevant when the job is relentlessly demanding, and the opportunity to recover isn’t present while […] Continue Reading

I seldom have clients tell me that they learned valuable life lessons when things were going well. However, I have had many people tell me that they figured things out, and learned a lot about themselves and their values, when they went through a difficult period. This is often the case with clients that I counsel for […] Continue Reading

What motivates people to seek help when they are in burnout? Most of the clients I work with seek help because they are exhausted and need help to recover. They are usually struggling with how to accomplish this goal, but know they need to make some immediate changes. Making the necessary changes to break the […] Continue Reading

Being in burnout is like running out of gas in your car. Except the car is you. And the level of gas in your tank is the amount of energy you have. When you are in complete burnout, you have only fumes left in your tank, and no energy reserves to draw from. I meet […] Continue Reading

Many of the clients that I counsel have come to see me because they are having difficulty functioning. Often this is because they have worked themselves into exhaustion and are in burnout. Read the posting: Work like a maniac and feel burned out? When a person can no longer concentrate, can’t read, can’t pay attention […] Continue Reading

Do you recognize when you are in burnout, or heading towards burnout? To avoid letting burnout get out of hand, it is good to be skilled at recognizing your own list of signs that indicate you are approaching “the burnout danger zone.” Based on comments from some of my clients, I have put together the […] Continue Reading

I have written several postings on my blog that describe burnout as a cycle. Read more about the 12-stage Burnout Symptom Cycle. However, it can also be useful to view burnout as a continuum that runs from “I have no symptoms of burnout at all” to “I am in total burnout and am completely unable […] Continue Reading

Pacing is a technique I often recommend to my clients that experience symptoms of burnout. As the term implies, pacing involves setting manageable goals to avoid over-doing it. Learning how to “pace” one’s activities requires behavioural changes. Doing more physical activity than a person is capable of will lead to a flare-up for individuals with chronic pain. […] Continue Reading

Little has been published on the subject of giftedness in the workplace and burnout, but I have seen evidence in my practice that adult giftedness and burnout may be linked. The characteristics of giftedness set gifted adults apart from others. Without proper support and understanding, many gifted adults may not achieve their full potential. For example, they may not pursue […] Continue Reading

In my practice, I meet many clients who have poor self-care skills for a multitude of reasons. A common statement is that they woke up one day with the realization that their lives are not how they imagined, and they feel confused about where to begin to make changes.  Often times these clients have spent […] Continue Reading

The term "burnout" was first coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in his 1974 book, “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement.” Freudenberger defined burnout as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.” Dr. Freudenberger was the first to identify the 12-stage Burnout […] Continue Reading

Often times, a new client will contact me because they need help coping with depression. They may have been diagnosed as "depressed" by their family physician and may or may not be taking medication to help them cope. I have found that in many of these cases, these clients are actually experiencing burnout, and their […] Continue Reading

Workplace burnout often affects those people who are idealists, perfectionists and workaholics. Many of the clients that I meet with are high achievers and have found considerable success in their fields -- largely because they are so dedicated to their work and committed to continuously doing well. In most cases, these individuals also have a […] Continue Reading

Many of the clients I counsel for burnout are high achievers that have found considerable success in their fields, largely because they are so dedicated to their work and committed to continuously doing well. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the 12-Stage Burnout Symptom Cycle, which was first coined by Dr. Herbert Freudenberger. Freudenberger referred […] Continue Reading

Many of the clients that I counsel for burnout express that they find it difficult to sleep at night. It is not surprising for them to realize that they have a sleep deficit, however, when they think about the conditions that have led to their burnout. Whether they have arrived at "burnout" due to their […] Continue Reading

Dr. Herbert Freudenberger was the first to identify the 12-Stage Burnout Symptom Cycle in his 1974 book, “Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement.” Psychologist and author, Joan Borysenko, provides a similar approach to looking at the stages of burnout in her 2011 book, “Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive.” The very […] Continue Reading

Many of the clients that I meet with for burnout express that they find it difficult to sleep. Many have shared they have used alcohol as a coping mechanism for their burnout to knock themselves out at night, in desperation. Some of my clients have shared that they believe alcohol helps them to sleep. And while […] Continue Reading

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Are you in Burnout? 10 Important Questions and Answers