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Soothing the Burn(out)

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Whether it’s a colleague or family member, it’s very likely you know someone who is burning out right now.  It’s thought that one in four of us (across the globe) are now suffering anxiety or similar symptoms since the pandemic. Signs include:

  1. Loss of interest in what they used to enjoy.

  2. General malaise, sadness, languishing.

  3. Tears flowing freely.

What to do:

  1. In your conversation with them, slow down the pace of your words and actions.

  2. Push aside your own desire to ‘fix’ them or their situation, or to give advice. (This is the most difficult thing to park. Quiet leaders are empathetic and caring ‘fixers’!)

  3. Ask what they need. Just that simple question. Ask it softly, gently and with pure curiosity.

  4. Then allow silence (try 8 slow seconds!) to give them time to gather their thoughts and find words to start. Don’t interrupt when you know they are thinking – wait patiently.

  5. If and when they open up, let their words flow until there is more silence. You will know then when to ask other questions to encourage more offloading, and when to close it off.

  6. You can ‘close it off’ by asking if there is anything else they want to talk about. If no, then acknowledge their feelings, honour their bravery, reassure them it’s between you and them, and encourage them to reach out any time. It might be appropriate to ask if it’s okay to check in on this again in [x] days and make the appointment to do that.

These are some of the techniques used in Restorative Circles, which themselves are based on something we have been doing for millennia – gathering around campfires, talking, sharing and offloading worries to a caring supporter. Restorative Circles are used in schools around the world now to encourage conflict resolution and foster kindness in children. They are also used for grief, trauma and many other issues. (Incidentally, I am seeking nurses, doctors and pharmacists who might be interested in participating in a healthcare Circle – more info on that here and if you know anyone interested I’d love if you could direct them to me). The reason that talking freely works so well is that it is so simple, so easy, so accessible and such a powerful tool for inner healing because it opens up new pathways in our brains. But only if someone will listen. Who needs you to listen this coming week? Look carefully, it might come as a surprise if they have been successfully papering over the cracks. All the best, Lisa.


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