Executive coach & psychologist Cees Stegenga delves deep on why we burnout & how we can recover.

I first met senior coach, psychologist and trainer Cees Stegenga when I was mired deep in burnout. I was super lucky — Cees is one of the top executive and burnout coaches in the Netherlands.

I felt trapped in burnout and in our first session, Cees helped me see that I had options. That encounter changed my life forever.

11 years later, we are friends and colleagues.

Cees specializes in burnout, which is why I asked to tap his vast wisdom and experience. Our conversation was thought-provoking and shifted my thinking on why we burn out. …


Speaking from recent personal experience.

Living my values with a healthy, intact left knee. Good times.

Sunday, I spent the day in bed.

All day, except for a shower and a few minutes staring into the fridge before returning to bed with tea and snacks.

This is not like me. It was a gorgeous early spring day, the kind that would usually have me out on a hike in the hills followed by catching up with my husband’s family for Easter lunch.

But three weeks ago, I injured my left knee in a skiing accident. After major surgery on 20 April, I have a recovery period of approximately eight months. I woke up Sunday with a…


My conversation with Dr. John Chan on what leaders, organizations and individuals can do to end burnout.

I came into contact with organizational psychologist Dr. John Chan while writing Spark!, when two mutual friends simultaneously texted me “you need to talk to John!!” after seeing a post of his. I quickly realized we have two shared passions:

Burnout, and combating burnout.

John’s expertise and experience have helped give real shape to many of my ideas about burnout — in particular, that primary responsibility for preventing burnout lies with organizations and their leaders.

This conversation was our most potent and inspiring yet.

What got you interested in burnout?

I started my career in the hospitality industry, a highly…


This is very much still a work in progress for me. And yet, this might be the single most important thing we can do to avoid burnout.

Recently, I stumbled across a photograph of myself as a small child. I was in my Birdwood Primary School uniform, smiling, adorable, in my first school photo. It must have been around the time of my fifth birthday.

Looking at the photo of that smiling little girl made me sad. It reminded me how much, even at that young age, I have always tried to please people, and how my sense of worth and value has hinged on pleasing others since before I can remember.

I did what I thought others expected of me so that I would garner their…


Why allowing emotions is essential to bypassing burnout — and living a healthy life generally.

Emotions are essential biological states. They are healthy and can be wise guides on our life path. But emotions have a shitty reputation. Especially at work.

For a long time, emotions were frowned upon as a sign of weakness, fragility or hysteria. They were viewed as embarrassing or shameful — the antithesis of science and reason.

Emotions also used to be viewed as the domain of the feminine, the so-called “weaker sex” (vomit). …


Forget boundaries. How to prevent burnout by naming and enforcing your edges.

Edges are the healthy parameters we set so we can use our energy and attention — those super precious and easily-exhausted resources — in ways that nourish rather than deplete us.

Burnout means going over all your edges, again and again, to the point where you don’t even feel like you have edges anymore. Preventing burnout requires that you honor your edges.

Isn’t an edge just a boundary? Sort of, but there’s an important difference.

No more boundaries. Honor your Edges.

Yes, everyone talks about boundaries. Call me a word nerd (I do all the time), but the word “edge” is way more powerful.

Here’s why.


Why we need to actively seek out calm, how to do it, and why calm is essential to avoiding burnout.

We are the constant subject of relentless lobbying for our attention. Work, social media, life events, family pressures, financial stress, comparing ourselves against others — we have endless fodder to keep our minds churning and distracted from the present moment.

Whether we are ruminating on the past (“I should have done that differently!”) or worried about the future (“When will things go back to normal?”), our brains have endless material to keep us stuck in a stress cycle.

Here’s the thing.

Left to its own devices, that stress cycle will only end when you burn out.

To avoid hitting burnout…


Why nourishing yourself helps you avoid burnout, why it can be so damn hard, and how to build your own nourishment plan.

So far in looking at ways to prevent burnout, we have investigated:

  1. paying attention to your attention
  2. listening to your body, and
  3. growing your community.

Today we are looking at nourishing yourself. Before you think “OH SHUT UP WITH YOUR #CLEANLIVING DOGMA” and open a 9am hard seltzer, trust me, I have already had that thought and opened that seltzer.

I am not here to sell anything or tell you do a face mask and everything will be magically better.

Nourishing yourself is not

  • punishing yourself
  • restricting yourself
  • consumeristic, or, buying shit and expecting it to fix everything
  • getting down…

How investing time and energy in your relationships can help you avoid burnout — and feel better, like, right now.

My Dad died last Friday at 97 years of age, and my Mum was at his side for his last breaths. I’ve spent so much time anticipating this moment that much of my grief has already processed — plus, with a life so long and so abundant, gratitude far outweighs my sadness.

What has become hugely clear to me in these few days since he died is how important my community is, in these moments, and always.

Human connection is as essential to our survival as food and water. We are deeply social beings. And yet, we are often so…


The second tip to preventing burnout? Listen to the most important conduit through which you experience life: your body.

Disclaimer: this is not a guilt-inducing rant about getting healthier. Having grappled with eating disorders, I am allergic to the clichés and consumerism that abound about health and wellness, especially the shame we are caused to feel every day about so many aspects of the human body.

Bigger tits, smaller waist, larger dick, perfect skin, chiseled cheekbones, six-pack abs, eight-pack abs, fat free, sugar free, guilt free… joy free.

So many harmful, nasty, shaming messages, so little time. This is where my first burnout prevention tip — pay attention to your attention — is super important. Anything that makes you…

Sally Clarke

burnout expert, life coach, copywriter and life lover. hiking, surfing, adventuring Dutch-Aussie in California. she/her www.salcla.com

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