Burned Out? I did and want to help prevent others from doing the same.

If you have ever experienced and recovered from burnout yourself, please consider sharing what you have learned with us. On June 3rd the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace will be hosting a roundtable in Toronto on recovering from burnout. Only those who have experienced burnout (including myself) will be at the table. If you will be in the Toronto area and want to be included, please let me know through

Burnout itself is a controversial subject. In the past, some argued that burnout was either someone who could not “cut it” at work or just a precursor to clinical depression. New evidence from the Centre for Studies on Human Stress shows that there is a chemical difference between those experiencing burnout and those experiencing depression. With burnout, it is a decrease in cortisol and with depression it is an increase. In the SALVEO study, burnout is described as distinct from depression and includes “emotional fatigue, depersonalization or cynism, and loss of effectiveness at work.” My personal experience and that of many people I have talked to seems to indicate that someone who is very passionate about work, with inadequate self-care strategies, often is faced with someone betraying them or questioning their integrity at work. This blow to already strained reserves causes cortisol levels to be depleted leading to a profound sense of emotional fatigue.

The questions that will be asked at the roundtable are intended to help those approaching or experiencing or recovering from burnout to learn from those who have experienced it and include:

What were the early warning signs that you may have ignored? 

What was your tipping point – when you could no longer cope at work?

What did you do to recover? How long did it take?

What do you do differently now to stay well?

Stay tuned and we will report back on our findings. Our hope is that you use this information to save yourself or someone you care about from having to experience the long road back to wellness after burnout occurs. If you are interested in addressing burnout in your organization, have a look at Responding to Burnout.