The Way Out Of Burnout


In this piece for 1843, a psychoanalyst explains why for people feeling “burnt out,” simply trying to relax doesn’t always work.

“Burnout involves the loss of the capacity to relax, to ‘just do nothing.’ It prevents an individual from embracing the ordinary pleasures — sleep, long baths, strolling, long lunches, meandering conversation — that induce calm and contentment. It can be counterproductive to recommend relaxing activities to someone who complains that the one thing they cannot do is relax.

So what does it take to recover the capacity to do nothing, or very little? I might be expected at this point to leap to psychoanalysis as an instant remedy. But psychoanalysis is emotionally demanding, time-consuming and often expensive. Nor does it work for everyone (a basic truth of all therapies, physical or mental).”


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  1. “…psychoanalysis is emotionally demanding, time-consuming and often expensive” – ON THE OTHER HAND – modern evidence based psychotherapies can help with burnout MUCH faster and cost-effectively, including using supported self help materials eg “Burnout: Break the Vicious Cycle with Acceptance and Mindfulness; Waadt & Acker, 2013a” – Conclusions: Our study provides empirical support for decreasing stress and promoting well-being through ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) and emphasizes the potential of PF (psychological flexibility) in promoting well-being (in a 6 week supported self help program). see full study at