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When Passion Can Lead to Burnout




Have you ever heard the saying “if you do what you love for work, you will never work a day in your life”? It sounds like a nice idea but it can be a complete myth.

When we come to believe that the work we actually love doing is “not really work”, then it can actually manifests into an idea that because we love it so much we should be doing more of it. This particular type of mentality can eventually lead to burnout. The consequences of burnout can be both dire and quite hard to detect. At 180 Sanctuary this is a common thread I have been seeing amongst a number of clients that come to us for treatment.

For a very long time, the word “burnout” has been wrongly accused of being some made-up, first-world crisis. The truth is that burnout will continue to be a growing concern around the world. A recent study carried out in the United Kingdom in 2019 surveyed a total of 7,500 employees. Of this amount 23% reported feeling burned out at work whilst 63% said that they experience it sometimes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now included burnout in its International Classification of Diseases, claiming that it “refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context…..a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed….”. The WHO came out to say that burnout is characterized by three factors – a) increased mental distance from an individual’s job, or feelings of negativity related to that job b) reduced professional efficacy c) feeling of energy depletion or exhaustion.

The WHO drafted their classification of burnout as a disease in response to advice from global health experts who wanted to end the debate on weather on not burnout should be considered a medical condition.

Burnout can affect anyone. However, it is important to take note that there are certain sectors that are at an increased risk of burnout. Non-profit employees, teachers, nurses, mission-focused executives and physicians are some of the people that are most at-risk for burnout. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, emotional and physical exhaustion can all result from burnout however an estimated 300-400 American physicians take their own lives each year.

At 180 Sanctuary we have an effective program specifically tailored for burnout – The 180 BurnOut Retreat Programme. This specific program goes hand-in-hand with the beautiful tranquil settings the center is situated amongst. One of the important factors that we coach our clients to do is to mitigate this “always-on” mindset by being aware of when passion becomes a double-edged sword. Setting boundaries is the key to achieving this. Clients are encouraged to set healthy boundaries and that boundary setting is not selfish, in-fact it is actually selfless. It allows an individual to become more effective at what they do.

At the end of the day most people want to go home to their personal lives feeling inspired and fueled by a day of passionate engagement in purposeful work. We do however need to be careful; when it feels like your passion for work has become all-consuming, then maybe it is time to take a break.

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