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 “Compulsion to Prove.” The compulsion to prove is one symptom of the 12-Stage Burnout Symptom Cycle, as defined by Freudenberger. Over time, this compulsion to prove, the relentless stress that results, and the impossibility of the meeting the demands of the job lead to burnout.
When I begin treating a client for burnout related to the workplace, I encourage them to try the following simple experiments for the first three weeks of counselling:
- Begin by taking a full lunch hour each day at work. Ensure that you physically leave your workspace and don’t return for the full 60 minutes.
- Set strict working hours so that you arrive at a set time and leave at a set time each day, and actually take weekends off.
Many of my clients find these two simple experiments very difficult at first, although they experience greater levels of energy and an increase in their productivity after committing to these exercises for a period of time.
— Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta