What is Burnout From An Ancient Perspective?

Dear HRart Worker,

We know the World Health Organization has officially started including burnout in its reports, and experts have been analyzing it from almost every perspective, but let’s chat about burnout from a new perspective.

Or shall I say an ancient perspective?

My clients often talk about the overwhelm, never-ending fatigue, and chronic stress as their major symptoms of this imbalance. Unfortunately, the data would suggest that if you’re reading this email, you likely can relate to those heavy symptoms.

From a Classical Oriental Medicine perspective, there are a couple of things at play here.

Number one is your primal energy source. You’re given an energetic battery at birth called the primal energy source.

When you are young, you have this super-charged battery pack which you use to play, learn, and grow. As you got older (and because we aren’t taught energy care in Western culture), you may not have taken care of that energy and instead burned through it at an alarming rate.

If you’re someone like me who was overly passionate early-on in your career, you may have regularly burned the candle at both ends. What you didn’t know then was you were actually burning aggressively through that primal energy source.

And so now when you fast forward ten years, twenty years later, you just don’t have that much energy to pull from anymore. If you’re still pushing yourself too hard and not caring for what energy you do have left, you are in danger of burning out over and over and over again. We call it the burnout cycle.

For most of us in modern day life, the only way we know how to recharge is through sleep. Unfortunately, for those that are feeling burnt out and stressed, sleep is often the last thing on your priority list and can even be elusive when you do have the time to rest.

So you’re likely just functioning on less and less energy everyday. And thats why what Classical Oriental Theory has to teach us is so important. This is why I use it for the foundation of my work. Classical Oriental Theory gives us another set of tools to use to replenish your energy.

My favorite of these tools is the practice of Qigong, which can actually replace some of that lost sleep and be just as productive as a nap. When I have clients who can’t sleep, in addition to Qigong Sessions, I coach them to do Qigong exercises to restore some of that energy they are missing out on at night.

Not to mention, one of the most widely seen benefits of Qigong is that people often experience better sleep at night.

Sleep is the number one thing that has to happen when you’re healing from burnout.

So whether you are using Qigong or another healing practice, you have to figure out how to get some of that energy back so you have the capacity to continue to heal.

Once you are over feeling so depleted all the time, then you can look at your life and figure out how to get that space back again — the space required to live the kind of life you actually want to live.

But first, figure out the sleep component.


Samm (she/her/hers) 

More from our blog