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).”