Burnout is characterized by three components:
Emotional exhaustion – the fatigue that comes from caring too much for too long
Depersonalization – the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion
Decreased sense of accomplishment – an unconquerable sense of futility; feeling that nothing you do makes any difference
Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share stories from my own experiences with empathetic leadership in action with the Let Her Lead: Established Leader Cohort. I also have the distinct privilege of mentoring one of these leaders as part of the program. And this is one of the key messages I shared with this group:
Your capacity to practice empathy is directly tied to your well-being.
Each of us carries within us a wellspring. A source of renewable energy. In order to maintain that wellspring, we require breath, food, water, movement, connection and rest.
When we are depleted, we will struggle to: manage our emotions, feel empathy, maintain curiosity, sustain realistic optimism (seeing the world as it is while also believing in our capacity to make something better), and maintain our sense of connection to each other and to the broader world. In other words, we will struggle to respond to others with empathy. Not because we are selfish, but because we are human.
When the world–whether that be your personal world or the world at large–feels overwhelming, remember this: In between stimulus and response, you have a choice. This is where your power lies.
Reach for the basics first. And tend gently to yourself (and your nervous system) until such time as you have refilled (and can maintain) your capacity to extend empathy, kindness and compassion to others.
For more resources related to empathy, burnout and well-being check out:
Booth Andrews Company Website
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
The Power of Full Engagement
The Empathy Effect
Fortune Well: Compassion fatigue explains why coworkers everywhere are so cranky. Here’s how to fix it
20+ Alarming Burnout Statistics : Stress and Lack of Motivation in the Workplace
40+ Statistics on Burnout in the Workplace You Can’t Ignore
National Library of Medicine: Moving from compassion fatigue to compassion resilience Part 2: Understanding compassion fatigue
Greater Good Magazine: Why the World Needs an Empathy Revolution
Center for Creative Leadership: The Importance of Empathy in the Workplace