Burnt Out? Here’s a Comprehensive Guide to Recovery Methods That Research Says Actually Work

Burnt Out? Here’s a Comprehensive Guide to Recovery Methods That Research Says Actually Work

While we have a clear definition of what burnout is, its three symptoms, and the six factors that lead to it, we know relatively little about how to help people stuck in the throes of burnout. Researchers from the Virtual Reality Medical Institute who reviewed over 11,000 academic articles on burnout recovery describe the landscape of interventions as “very fragmented” and filled with “many methodological weaknesses.” Finnish researchers who performed a similar analysis concluded: “It is impossible to draw guidelines regarding how to treat burnout. Single studies produced mixed results…”

Why is the research so mixed and inconclusive? When looking for solutions, people tend to focus on actions they can take instead of changes their company should make. While this is practical, one of the most well-supported conclusions of this research is that combining individual- and organization-level approaches is most effective.


This doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself. However, given the murkiness of the research, it’s easy to be lured into using an approach that has limited success. Here are recovery approaches that don’t work, partially work, and really work…


The Washington Nationals: A Case Study In Resilient Teaming

I love baseball. I have been watching the game in earnest since 1984 when I became a Cubs fan, thanks to my mom and grandma who both grew up in northern Illinois. They took me to my first game at Wrigley, and I spent most days that summer watching games and scoring them in my notebook.

Fast forward to today, and as a resilience researcher and educator, I often use sports metaphors and teams to illustrate key concepts. After all, sports teams provide a wealth of examples to illustrate what bouncing back looks like when things don’t go as planned, particularly under high levels of stress and pressure. The Cubs didn’t even make it into the post-season this year, so I decided to root for the Milwaukee Brewers, since I live near the city. When the Nationals beat the Brewers in stunning fashion in the wild card game, I texted my friend, who is a Nationals fan, and said, “Just wait, the Dodgers are next level.” Well, we all know how that turned out…


How to tell if you have workplace burnout or something else

Personal challenges and grief can also make it difficult to be engaged and productive at work. [Photo: Mikhail Spaskov/iStock; pyzhova/iStock]
Ask around, and it may seem like everyone is experiencing burnout. A survey from staffing firm Accountemps earlier this year found that 96% of senior managers say their team members are experiencing some degree of burnout. In a separate survey, 91% of workers said they are at least somewhat burned out.

As Kim I. Mills recently wrote for Fast Company, in May 2019 the World Health Organization expanded its definition of burnout in the ICD-11—the 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases—which moved its definition closer to the way occupational health psychology has defined it.

“They’re just bringing their definition in line with what we’ve known from the research for some time,” says Dr. David Ballard, head of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program at the American…


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