The Garden of Workplace Burnout: Nurturing Resilience Amidst the Thorns

The garden of your professional carrer

While your professional life can be seen as quite mundane, picture it as a thriving garden that has been lovingly cultivated and progressed over the years. Once started as a single flower waiting to bloom after university, has turned into a garden full of a diverse range of experiences and qualifications. You have planted the seed of your ambitions, watered it with dedication and stood back to observe the successes of your career fully blossomed. Each day adding to this carefully curated garden, nurturing it with your hard work. It is in essence a reflection of you. 

In the beginning your garden flourishes, its vibrant flowers of accomplishments bloom and the fruits of your labor grow. However, as time passes, that once-clear pathway becomes overgrown with thorns and weeds, making it very difficult to navigate through. These thorns represent workplace burnout. The challenges and stressors in your work life that have been left unchecked or unnoticed for a while. It may take the form of demanding deadlines, excessive workloads or simply a lack of support within your workplace. Just as thorns hinder the beauty of your garden, burnout can cast a shadow over your career that takes away from the joy and fulfilment it once brought. 

Reasons behind Workplace burnout

Workplace burnout doesn’t just happen overnight but is rather a gradual process fueled by a combination of different workplace or internal stressors. To give you an idea, physical things such as an unmanageable volume of tasks or responsibilities can easily overwhelm someone. As well as feelings such as a lack of autonomy in decision making, ambiguity about your role and responsibilities, or simply a lack of emotional or logistical support from colleagues can all contribute. While a lot of burnout causes can be attributed to the environment including the people around you, it is clear that a significant proportion of this stress comes from within yourself. 

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The internal struggle

The garden of burnout thrives on internal struggles or pressures you set for yourself. Your own expectations, perfectionism and relentless self-criticism can add to the weight of these thorns. On top of that the desire to excel and meet these unrealistic standards, while admirable, can become very exhausting. Consider your perfectionist brain or that unrealistic side of you as a gardener, obsessively pruning each lead and tends to every petal in your garden. They never seem to be satisfied with its beauty. In the pursuit of this unattainable ideal, the gardener accidentally fosters this breeding ground for burnout. Looking at this imagery, it is important to recognize that while personal drive and ambition is extremely valuable for the success of your professional career, it must be balanced with self-compassion and a realistic assessment of your own limitations. In the end we are all human, and while advancing in your career is a dream for most and proving to your boss that you work the hardest, if the cost is your mental well-being, it is not worth it.  

Finding the right balance

Just as a skilled gardener knowing when the best time is to prune or when it’s best to let nature take its course, you can learn to navigate the challenges of the workplace with balance and resilience. It’s all about firstly acknowledging the importance of self-care, personal boundaries and seeking support when needed. And most importantly embracing the notion that perfection is a moving target, and it is okay to ask for help or take a step back when the thorns of stress threaten to overgrow your garden and dampen the progress you have made so far. By understanding and becoming familiar with the internal and external factors that contribute to workplace burnout, you empower yourself to tend to your professional garden with greater care and mindfulness. Through this awareness and intentional effort, you can transform your workplace from a thorny patch of stress into a flourishing garden of resilience, where your career can bloom with vibrancy and purpose once more. 

Caitlyn Ly Brownrigg

Have obtained my Bachelor of Science, majoring Mind and behaviour at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. And currently interning at Tranquil as a Psychology Trainee.

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I am originally South African but have lived in Vietnam for 18 years of my life. This is why I am passionate about exploring the intricate intersections between culture, identity and psychology. This unique background had fueled my curiosity and deepened my appreciation for the complexities of human experience and I am excited to share my knowledge and discoveries with you.

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