Leading researchers Dr. Christine Maslach and Dr. Michael Leiter frame burnout “as a breakdown in the relationship between you and your work context.”
As Dr. Leiter explained to me, “When people enter workplaces, both sides have expectations, and problems occur when expectations are not met.”
Often, the expectations placed on individuals by employers are unreasonable, unfair and incommensurate with the salary and benefits offered in return.
At the same time, as employees, our expectations that work and work alone will shape our identity and satisfy our demand for purpose and existential meaning are high to the point of being unrealistic.
“The wellbeing of our people is our top priority.”
“We offer yoga classes.”
“You’re an industrial athlete.”
“You’re not an employee, you’re family.”
There are so many ways that companies express how much they want us to believe that they prioritize employee wellness.
All too often, though, this is nothing more than BS posturing. At best, it’s misleading, at worst, it’s outright false advertising that hurts employees every day.
Companies are not idiots (even if they are sometimes run by them).
They know wellness is hot.
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is an occupational phenomenon caused by chronic workplace stress.
Which has us all wondering, of course, “what causes chronic workplace stress?”
The answer might be confronting, but it will also help you recover from burnout and live an authentic, fulfilling life.
Or to paraphrase Gloria Steinem, the truth about burnout will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
Chronic workplace stress is caused by two factors:
(1) toxic work culture and
(2) toxic beliefs about work.
When I was burning out, I didn’t know anyone else who had burned out as a lawyer. Mental health issues were shrouded in shame. This made the process incredibly lonely, and the loneliness was compounded by the sense that everyone else seemed fine. Colleagues were subject to the same pressures but seemed to be thriving. What little energy I had went into masking my misery, until the night I collapsed at Nantes airport and my life changed forever.
Thankfully, today, the support available to people looking to leave the law has increased, thanks in part to the work of two…
I stalkily approached Caitlin McFee on Instagram because of her inspiring work on how lawyers can take care of their mental health in such a competitive, cutthroat industry. She graciously overlooked my stalkiness and we had an all-out brilliant conversation on what’s wrong with the legal industry — and how to right it.
As a former lawyer, this topic is close to my heart. And it makes my heart soar to see the courage, energy and honesty Caitlin brings to her mission. The law needs more people like Caitlin!
Sally Clarke: What prompted you to create Law Life Balance?
Lying by omission is a special kind of betrayal.
It’s passive-aggressive, it’s cowardly, and does just as much damage as full-blown outright lie.
Lying by omission is this:
“Leaving out one or more important facts in order to foster a misconception.
This includes the failure to correct pre-existing misconceptions”
This lack of transparency undermines communication, and directly impacts our experience of trust and respect in relationships, whether with friends, family or colleagues.
Lying by omission sucks. So, why does it happen?
Some might argue that it is done to avoid causing hurt or pain to the other party. …
Sometimes I wonder what kept me caught on the path to burnout, and then in burnout.
I wondered this out loud to a friend, recently.
“I was in denial. Like, FULL denial.”
She nodded. “And what caused the denial?”
I’d never asked myself that question. The first word that came up?
As our conversation continued, it became stunningly clear to me. Shame about burning out as a corporate lawyer— about what I perceived as weakness and failure — prevented me from reaching out for help. Until reaching out for help was the only option left.
Shame is a murky…
My friend Tim is a consultant with an excellent sense of humor and a very cute Labradoodle. He’s been feeling low on energy recently, and asked me to explain what causes burnout. I broke it down for him over coffee.
“Burnout is caused by chronic work-related stress.”
Tim sipped his latte and came back with a question I almost never get. “So, what causes chronic work-related stress?”
I smiled my nerdiest smile. “I’m glad you asked! Two things. One, is toxic work culture.”
Beliefs make “otherwise sane people ignore reasonable advice.” — Rahaf Harfoush
Tim nodded: the firm he works…
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. …
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…