Collective burnout!

Natalie Wilkie

Natalie Wilkie
Organisational Development Specialist

Do you feel like you just can’t get motivated to do anything apart from the basics? Feeling like you are waiting for something but not sure what it is? Feeling like just going to work or setting up for work is enough any extras feel just too much. Going to the shops/work/activities feels traumatic with the restrictions and fear we have built up over the last year.

Well I am certainly feeling that way and it seems many people I am speaking too feel that way.

I am curious about whether a year of Covid and related lockdown and restrictions have pushed our trauma responses to the max. Our states of adrenaline fuelled action are massively depleted and our bodies just can’t take any more. We might be at the precipice of a collective collapse and burnout.

How can we help ourselves get back to a place of energy and engagement with life again.
  1. Notice and acknowledge the trauma of the last year and all it has bought for us. Realise what a tough time we have all had of it this year and how it has been traumatic. Remind yourself of that and know it is ok to feel bad considering what has been happening. We don’t need to and often can’t push through which is what we are conditioned to do in our society.
  2. Allow the feelings associated with that to be there – anger, upset, sadness, grief, confusion, whatever comes up for you that is unique to you. Don’t judge it.
  3. Allow time for those feelings – if you want to go to bed after you have put the kids to bed, do it. If you need a cry for an hour – do it. If you need to draw, write or talk through your feelings – do it.
  4. If we are physically ill we gather all the things we need to cocoon ourselves, Lemsips, DVD’s, books, treats, magazines and we set up camp on the sofa or in bed. Our friends and family bring us those things too. We let go. Why don’t we do this when we are mentally not well? Go and collect all those things you need to support you mentally, treats, DVD’s, books, walks out in nature, impromptu trips to the beach, take some time off work (if you can) to recharge and connect back into life. You need to decide what is going to help you renew. What is going to help you feel better. Self care needs to be doubled, tripled, quadrupled. If you need an afternoon in bed then go for it – you might feel like you will never get up – it is unlikely that will happen.
  5. If you really can’t shift this feeling then give it time however if that still doesn’t work then look into professional help – go to your GP and speak to them about what they can offer, or you can find counsellors at and look for local counselling centres in your area.

I was ill last week and so I had to literally crash after every small bit of my work or childcare. It was hard as I felt guilt however by the weekend things had shifted for me. I am still not 100% and need to be wary of still resting however it did the world for me mentally and physically to just let go and not keep pushing hard. Realising we are at this point is 90% of the solution.

Contact us for further information on our Emotional Intelligence sessions and programmes.

Want to learn more about good practices relating to mental health at work, and share to experiences with other companies? Contact us for information on our Good Work & Mental Wellbeing Lab.

The Good Work & Mental Wellbeing Lab is hosted on our Fresh Thinking Labs platform, and focuses on how companies can introduce the types of good practice discussed during our webinars. Our aim is to build a closed community in which people can share experiences and challenges with each other, as well as taking part in open discussions with our expert panel.

Through a series of Masterclasses, we’ll follow up with informal workshops every month addressing key themes relating to good work and mental wellbeing. Stephen, Frank Pot, Natalie Wilkie and Peter Totterdill, plus other members of our team, will be regular contributors to each session together with occasional guest experts and practitioners.

Based on feedback so far, we’ll be addressing job design and job crafting, line management roles and behaviours, emotional intelligence, and the impact of digital technologies – but this list isn’t exclusive and we’re keen to include any other issues and challenges identified by Lab members.

Between each session, we’ll be continuing the discussion in themed online forums within the Lab, and we’ll also build up a bespoke knowledge bank including evidence, case studies and practical tools for use by members. Of course we’ll also be available for one-to-one chats from time to time if we can help with specific issues.

We’ll also produce a short, practical guide to the issues discussed in the Lab (though happy to continue afterwards by popular demand!)

Although we’re a not-for-profit organisation, and very committed to positive mental health at work, we do need to cover our costs. We’re asking participants for a £200 membership fee for the Lab, which we think is pretty good value. You’ll also get access to the other member-only webinars planned.

Plus Wellbeing Drop-Ins, Challenge Workshops, network-building activities and bespoke introductions to members with comparable interests.

We hope that you can join us, and look forward to hearing from you soon. Contact us for information on our Good Work & Mental Wellbeing Lab.