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Burn Out or Burn In?

Burn Out or Burn In, can damage your health insidiously. The World Health Organisation recognise “burn out” as an occupational phenomenon! However they do not classify it as a medical condition! They refer to it as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been properly managed..

Burn Out can be Insidious!

I recall many years ago, the cascade of events that occurred following the death of my sister. Both my personal and professional lives were impacted. My marriage broke down, my life turned upside down as I found myself bringing up two children as a single parent.  Suddenly I was juggling many balls simultaneously!

Slowly and insidiously aspects of my life changed. Stress became my best friend, my appetite declined, weight loss crept in and sleep patterns became erratic. I felt I was constantly putting out “spot fires” both at work and at home. There just never seemed to be enough time in the day to get through the multitude of daily tasks.

I was in total overwhelm, exhaustion became my norm. My thinking felt “foggy”! Too scared to share these feelings in case I was judged, lost my friends or worse still my job and my income!
Stress + fear + exhaustion + overwhelm = Burn Out or Burn In!

This experience happened many years ago. I tend to refer to it as “burn in”. It took me many months to become aware of the impact it was having on my health.


As humans when we become stressed we internalise a lot of our fears and emotions and put on a brave face. Our mask! We fear that we will be judged..

We push through and our health suffers as a result. I believe that it is the cumulation over time with small changes that have a big impact on our body and our health.

The Candle Flame!

“Burn in”, can be likened to a candle flame flickering in the wind before it goes out.  Workplace stresses can cause us to experience “burn out”. We effectively internalise our emotions creating a “burn in” effect. Our body cells and organs are impacted.

As the model below shows our work environment can impact our physical body. These physical impacts such as fatigue, headache, exhaustion affect our mind / body connection. This in turn causes a dis – ease within the cells in our body.

As a result of dis- ease within the body cells, nutrients are not being absorbed as effectively and our body starts “failing”. Everything is an effort and we begin to struggle at work as a result.

Health Impacts!

Over time, if left unmanaged it can translate to health conditions such as auto immune disease, anxiety, depression, gastro – intestinal disturbance and headaches. Over time, left untreated, this may lead to chronic health conditions that can potentially be debilitating.

Internalising these  emotions is common and occur when we try to protect ourself. People suffering signs of “burn in” hope they can mask the signs so they would go unnoticed. Hiding these signs of “burn in” at the office and from their colleagues. Many feared that their job would be compromised if they were found out!

The Human Connection!

Research suggests that a new paradigm of leadership is required to address and reduce this issue of burnout.  To be more humanistic! To acknowledge human limitations.

When you “Show UP”, a shift in mindset is required. Moving from a place of fear and overwhelm where succeeding at all costs was the mantra. To reset and lead with heart and mind as we connect and build trust. Building workplace culture that is supportive and empathic.

Deep respect grows as collaboration builds to support diversity and inclusion. Fear fades. Leadership becomes more balanced and the risk of “burn in” reduces. Using the softer skills provides a platform to breakdown barriers. To allow people to feel safe.

Changing the paradigm of female leadership as discussed in Show UP offers people hope. Concepts are provided around developing your intuition to enhance the “soft skills”. Time has come to forge forward and include intuition as a leadership tool to prevent “burn in” from occurring.

3 Key tips to address early signs of “burn in”: -

Check your health barometer every day. How are your eating and sleeping patterns? Are you feeling exhausted more than usual?
–  Monitor your psychological health. How are you feeling? Do you feeling negative or cynical? Are you sad and tearful? Are you Angry more than usual?  Do you struggle to concentrate?
Evaluate your behaviours. Are you erratic? Have you become withdrawn? Are you angry or resentful? Are you irritable?

What new tools are you able to implement in your work life that could reduce the risk of burnout? How will you recognise the warning signs of burnout in your team?

Would love to hear your thoughts?