Preventing Burnout: Improving Recovery Cycles

An important dimension of the burnout process is interrupted recovery. The problem is not so much that people get tired. Any vigorous activity or prolonged concentration will get people tired. Being tired at the end of the workday is not great problem. The problem of burnout becomes evident when that spent energy has not been recovered the text time around

So, a basic piece of advice on preventing burnout is for people to review the recovery cycles in their lives. What is happening with:

• Food

• Exercise

• Fun Activities

• Friendships

• Sleep

Any and all of these domains play important roles in replenishing the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social energy that people use when doing their work. It is easy to convince people that life would be better if all of these domains were in good order. However, it is much more difficult for people to adjust their live patterns to improve their recovery patterns.

What Gets in the Way?

Recovery cycles are embedded in the midst of busy lives with many commitments. Some recovery activities require periods of dedicated time. Some require money. One may be attracted to participating in a yoga class but have a hard time fitting it into a schedule or a budget.

Some recovery activities fall outside the range of free choice. One may agree with the benefit of more sleep but be unable to fall asleep at will or to remain asleep until a reasonable hour.

Some recovery activities are blocked by engrained habits. People may agree with suggested changes to what they eat but have a physiological attachment to sugary snacks in midmorning.

What To Do

Changing habits requires a system and supports. Doing what comes naturally usually means repeating the established behavior you want to change.

Because burnout is a work-based issue, the most reasonable supports are colleagues from work. A shared project of improving recovery cycles is much more compelling than a bunch of unconnected individual efforts. When sharing the project, people have power to:

• Jolly one another along,

• Keep one another honest,

• Share wisdom & experience, and

• Provide a shoulder to cry on.

So, now the puzzle is to establish a group project to increase everyone’s resilience. That will be the topic of the next post.

Previous posts in this series:

Preventing Burnout

Preventing Burnout: Monitoring

Preventing Burnout: Pacing

Preventing Burnout: Job Crafting

Preventing Burnout: Community

Preventing Burnout: Core Values Conflicts

What Managers Can Do

More on What Managers Can Do

Micro Recovery: Sustaining Your Energy Through the Workday

1 Comment

  1. Dear Dr. Leiter.

    I consider that in our context it is a very complex task to create a healthy environment for a team, specially because gender inequalities. People think that women need more health care than men, and women play their role with a non competitive attitude but focusing on well – being.

    Meanwhile, men try to be competitive inside and outside work. It means to hide feelings and weakness and pretend to be strong in front of adversities.

    In this cultural background, the concept of recovery needs to be accepted as a good health practice for both men and women.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s