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If you don’t take a break, your body might: How burnout affects your bottom line.


caneel executive coach

I'm a social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

If you don’t take a break, your body might…

That’s what happened to me: in graduate school, I was carrying so much stress and dread that my body rebelled against me.

You can be as hard-working as you’d like, as dedicated as you can be, but that doesn’t change the truth. Burnout is inevitable when you aren’t aligned with your work: and the harder you work, the harder you’ll crash.

Burnout is now an official medical condition: the World Health Organization defines it as a “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed” characterized by: feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.

That might sound familiar to you. Many people experience burnout, and the symptoms may become routine: moodiness, dissatisfaction, and lingering unproductivity that can’t be worked through by working harder.

Burnout is a unique challenge for many leaders–unlike other work-problems, this one can’t be beaten with hard work. It’s a paradox: the only way to move forward is to relax.

But what does that mean?

Relaxing on a beach could work–so could going on a trip, or cooking for yourself or playing a sport. But all those activities share one commonality: they have to work for you.

The way you fight burnout isn’t by doing some magical activity. It’s by reconnecting with your flow, or Zone of Genius.

Burnout isn’t just caused by hard work, but by doing the hard work that falls outside your natural patterns and interests. Getting back to yourself can restore and recenter you.

It isn’t just about taking a break from work. It’s about setting down the burdens that work imposes on you, and about settling back in to your personal flow and self.

Aligning with that self doesn’t just bring you peace: it’s where you get your best work done, where you are the most you–inside work and outside it.

For me, that meant setting aside a plan I’d made, and a career I could do, because I recognized that being able to do it wasn’t the same as being meant to do it.

I set burnout aside by trying my best to work hard in ways that don’t feel hard–limiting burnout by restoring myself proactively.

Aligning yourself to yourself isn’t just for taking breaks–it’s a whole way of living and working, too.

If you’re interested in fighting burnout and working better–more efficiently and more at peace–you can join my free online workshop and see what works for you.

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Photography by Kelley Raye //

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a CEO Coach and social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

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