The mental wellness crisis doesn’t start at burnout; it starts at “bleh”

Once we’ve reached burnout, it’s already too late. Can play save us from ourselves?

Pictured: Mental wellness advocate Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy with an American hero

The U.S. mental health crisis pre-dates the pandemic

According to Murthy’s recent interview with comedians Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, “we just weren’t focusing on or investing in it.”

We can’t “fight” burnout

Once we reach “burnout,” there’s no “fight” left in us; it’s too late to “self-care” ourselves back to health. Much like a company that has developed a “toxic work culture,” when we hit the point of crisis, healing often requires a “hard reset.”

The “bleh” before the “burnout”

Murthy notes that we can be in a “funk” long before we hit burnout. We can think about the pre-indicators of burnout like the few days before a cold: it could present as hyper-productivity, self-criticism, or perfectionism; or it could just be a feeling of “bleh.”

  • Lack of enthusiasm/motivation
  • Imposter syndrome/second-guessing our instincts
  • Feeling like we can’t ask for help
  • Perfectionism / self-judgement
  • A short “fuse”
  • Inflexibility / resistance to change
  • Lack of agency/ownership
  • Disconnectedness / feeling ‘out-of-sync’ with coworkers

How can employers support mental health before it impacts performance?

By cultivating an environment where employees feel safe to be playful and take intelligent risks.

  • Connect authentically
  • Generate / experiment with new ideas
  • Accept help / build on others’ ideas
  • Apply intuition / past experiences
  • Reframe failure / dethrone “perfection”
  • Identify / lean into strengths

Which brings us back to where we started…

With the US Surgeon General swimming to a pretend island while his colleagues beckon “c’mere! c’mere!” We love it when a blog comes together…



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