The world of work has never been more uncertain or stressful. Meaning many leaders in organisations are facing new challengers around mental health, well-being and burnout in the workplace.

“A state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.”

Psychology Today

 Yes, we all get stressed, it’s a normal part of life, and if short lived is mostly harmless. The issue is when stress seems never-ending and comes with feelings of failure, apathy or hopelessness. When left untreated, extended stress can lead to burnout.

What can cause burnout?

Burnout can be caused by a multiple of factors, the most frequent being:

  • Juggling to many tasks
  • Working long hours for extended periods of time
  • When you don’t feel in control of your work or life
  • When you lack sufficient support to deal with the challenges, you are facing
  • Working under high stress conditions for extended periods of time without taking physical and mental breaks

It’s important to note that while burnout is largely associated with high levels of stress in the workplace, it is not unique to the workplace. Burnout can occur in parents, caregivers and relationships.


  • Depression or feeling hopeless
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed, irritability and anger
  • That feeling of trying harder, but feeling like you’re not getting anywhere in reducing your workload
  • Physical exhaustion often demonstrated by headaches, fatigue, heartburn as well as increased potential for alcohol, drug, or food misuse
  • If you are on the brink of burnout finding yourself working extended hours to catch up, getting sick or needing to take time off due to exhaustion

You may have a sense of dread about work, while feeling physically and mentally exhausted. Some people report feeling like they are working harder than ever but feel like they are failing or not getting anywhere.

Friends, family and work colleges may have commented that you seem more cynical or irritable than usual. Often others can see the signs of burnout in us, far sooner than we realise it ourselves.

Listen – to our 60 minute podcast with burnout specialist Dr Pam Wells on how to avoid burnout in the workplace. Dr Pam Well’s, a burnout specialist advises that the first thing anyone who is experiencing burnout needs to do is STOP

What to do in the onset of burnout?

Making self-care part of your daily routine. Try making an hour for yourself in a morning, be it exercise, reading or mediation before you look at work emails, or attend meetings. Take regular breaks throughout your day.

Try and find micro moments of control. Dr Pam Wells, shares with us that control is a myth, we can however put some boundaries in around the hours we work and creating a space for personal time that can give us back a sense of being on top of things.

Find purpose and meaning in your work. Reconnect with why you chose to do this job or role in the first place. If these feelings are no longer there it may be time to start thinking about what is important to you and if it’s time to reassess your career and life choices to find more meaning and purpose.

Take a break and reconnect with nature. We would always advocate going for a long walk, without your phone, take time to observe what’s going on around you; even if you can just take one day off. Fresh air always helps.

Ask for support – Talking to others about how you are feeling and accepting any help offered can massively help. It doesn’t mean you are failing; it means you are helping yourself to better manage mounting stress.

How workplace coaching can help with burnout?

Workplace coaching is an invaluable tool for helping leaders to avoid burnout. Coaching conversations provide a safe space to let your guard down and share how you are feeling and breakdown the aspects of the different pressures you are facing.

Coaching conversations are personalised around your unique needs. Be it, putting a plan in place to manage your well-being and mental health through prolonged periods of work stress, or reconnect and reassess the purpose to your work.

At Scaffold Coaching, we provide a supportive, structured and safe environment for you to organise your thoughts and explore the options open to you.

If this article has resonated with you please get in touch for a free, no obligation 30 minute coaching call or listen to our Building Better Leaders podcast on burnout here.

  • TAGS: