In this follow-up piece to “Honoring Ourselves and Each Other Through Burnout,” I offer examples of creative interventions into burnout. These examples are gifted to me through coaching, so I write with deep gratitude for people who are trying different ways of being, doing, feeling, thinking, relating and imagining in higher education.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Burnout is also never just about burnout. Collectively and individually, our nervous systems are overtaxed by continuous crises and denial of how much violence we’re facing. Intervening into burnout, therefore, can involve actions like blocking institutional harm or moving from denial to recognition. It can also involve a lot of self-inquiry and self-work.
In order to navigate and intervene into dehumanizing systems, interventions will often require us to engage in career discernment. We may face questions of what’s in and out of our hands, where and when we can make changes, when instead we need to walk away—and why. Interventions often invite curiosity about commitments, habits and practices. They can highlight unmet needs, hurts and longings. And they can teach the wisdom that the absence of a strong yes is actually a no.
The more I learn about burnout, the more I realize how much hurt and wrongdoing underlie burnout and, therefore, how many multidirectional interventions are needed. Luckily, we can learn from how other academics are intervening into burnout. Examples of interventions can expand our sense of what’s possible.”
My hope is that reading the article’s examples may inspire many more interventions, particularly toward institutional accountability and change. Because, truly, so many are needed.
As individuals, we may ask what’s in our hands and act on those answers. But, again, this is not enough. Collectively, it feels as if we are near a breaking point. So many of us are leaving higher education. We are raging and grieving in the process, longing for education to be life-giving instead of life-denying. If burnout is signaling untenable conditions, then is it not time to listen to the underlying messages? Is it not time to ask what changes must be made?
In asking these questions, many people are my teachers, and I’m so grateful to be learning from colleagues through and beyond coaching. By name, I recognize feminist educators Rasha Diab, Candace Epps-Robertson, Chloe de los Reyes, and Elaine Richardson (Dr. E). May we continue learning with and from each other toward building a sense of what’s possible, toward intervening into the collective experience of burnout.
I hope you’ll read the full article here. If you do, reach out with any feedback. I am continuing to learn and unlearn so much about burnout, particularly toward co-convening a gathering around burnout for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Pathways Through Burnout: A Cohort Experience
Today’s IHE article is part of the lead-up to a new offering I’m co-creating with Candace Epps-Robertson: “Pathways Through Burnout: A Cohort Experience.”
Some information is now online here, and more will be coming in the next few weeks.
Though burnout can feel like such an isolating experience, we’ve found that it helps to be in community. One of the most important things a cohort can offer is shared experience, shared space. Together, we come to know (to feel and experience and not just intellectually understand) that we are not alone in being burned out/up. Together, we can witness that while our stories and experiences may be unique, there is a power to working with and alongside others.
Our hope is to co-create a supportive, imaginative space for discussion, reflection, processing, and guidance. During the cohort experience, we (Beth and Candace) will offer readings, discussions, guided writings, meditations, coaching, and resources. We’ll journey together on pathways toward living aligned with commitments.
You can read more about the cohort experience here. Please send us a message if you’re potentially interested, and we’ll be in touch with more information. And, again, reach out with questions, feedback, or suggestions ~ anytime.
- Next Writing Retreat: Monday 7/10
- Recent Blog Post: “Can Registration Be Relational? How I’m Longing for Sliding-Scale Registration to Work“
- This Summer Create Space for Reflection: “Career Discernment for Academics”