Ask the Experts: Coaching for burnout

By Letesia Gibson,
updated on Jul 1, 2021

Ask the Experts: Coaching for burnout

Tired of work? Ready for a new career but don’t know where to start? Career coach Letesia Gibson answers your questions on workplace burnout

I’m exhausted

I am exhausted. I feel better on weekends, but come Monday, I’m miserable. I’m in the middle of a very big project at work and I can’t see things getting better any time soon. Every day is hard. What can I do?

It sounds like your spiritual and emotional energy is being compromised. Living with compromise in things like our values, expectations, sense of reward, and control or fairness, is exhausting. We cope with this by going into autopilot, withdrawing and giving up.

Immediate relief will come from getting into your body more often. It will feel counterintuitive to do more when you feel tired, but gentle movement, like walking, swimming or yoga will help to regulate your nervous system, giving you fresh perspective and a feeling of being in control again. Getting out of this dorsal state is necessary for change.

This experience of work isn’t working for you. Being truthful about your mismatch with it will give you clarity on what about it needs to change. That kind of honesty is easy to say and hard to do, but the energy you’ll get back will be worth it.

I'm worried about a colleague

I’m worried about a colleague. They have become detached and seem to have lost their ‘spark’. How can I support them?

One of our fundamental needs is to be truly seen, and when a person becomes disconnected, they have become invisible - even to themselves. When this is done with kindness and compassion, it creates a much-needed space for connection.

Tips include keeping things simple. Let them know that you see them in this struggle, and that you are there for them. Have soft eye contact. Be gentle with your tone of voice. Choose a place and time that fits this more intimate moment. Avoid speculating why this is happening or trying to fix it. Be ready to listen. Don’t get hung up on needing to do something, or expecting them to ask for something in return. The very act of seeing them is a powerful support in itself.

I need a new job

I think I need to leave my job, but it never seems to be the ‘right time’. I can’t afford to leave without another job lined up, so I’m putting it off. Can you help me?

Great that you’re intending to leave a job that’s burning you out. But ‘the right time’ will never emerge whilst in that draining zone. We have to create the fertile conditions for the new strength and motivation to grow, and the first step is putting you first, more often. Get a notebook and each day, write one thing you’re happy you did to look after you. Practice saying no to things you used to say yes to. Commit to carving out time to start a transition plan. Can you go down to four days a week, or take some holiday?

Before the new job, you need to get clear on what you actually need to thrive in the next role. When you know this, you will be ready to start looking for a new job and see what new energy you have for change.

I’ve lost motivation

How can I feel more excited at work? My job is good, the company is great, but recently I’ve lost the drive. I’m losing patience with colleagues and am easily distracted. I want something more…

This sounds like something is out of kilter with your purpose, which is leaving you feeling frustrated and having difficulty focusing. Start by asking questions about what’s recently changed. Our sense of motivation is affected by all aspects of our lives, so this is a moment to take stock of your bigger picture and not just the workplace.

It is normal to go through flat periods at work, so this may be little more than a moment that will pass. If the feeling sustains, then this is a road to a possible burnout, so it’s time to ask some serious questions about what is missing.

Are you being challenged enough? Can you see the difference you are making? Does the work still matter to you? Do you feel your talents are being put to good use? The answers to these questions will help you to know where to focus your energies on rekindling the fire.

Our sense of motivation is affected by all aspects of our lives, so this is a moment to take stock of your bigger picture and not just the workplace

I’m struggling to switch off

I’ve recently gone freelance. It’s my dream, but I’m finding it difficult to manage and fully switch off at the weekends and end of the day. I can feel myself edging towards burnout, but I can’t give up on this…

Firstly, well done for recognising this. Getting the balance right so that passion does not tip into burnout is not easy when you feel so invested. There are no rules that say evenings and weekends need to be off time. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to design your work-life so it helps you bring the best of you. Be intentional about it. In fact, renaming ‘switching off’ to ‘renewal’ would better capture what this time needs to do for you. It’s time that’s vital for your recovery. Do things that feed your imagination, connect you with others, express your creative side and bring you into your body. They all play a role in replenishing energy and building your resilience, so you don’t burn out.

Top tips for managing (and preventing) burnout

  • Listen to your body. Learn to tune into how it’s doing and what it needs
  • Tell your truth. Write a journal or tell a friend how you are really feeling
  • Check your boundaries. Keep an eye on your tendency for over-giving

Read more about Letesia Gibson on Life Coach Directory.

By Letesia Gibson

Letesia Gibson is a creative career coach specialising in burnout and helping people bring more creativity into their lives. Based in London and online, Letesia regularly hosts retreats in Ibiza.

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