Burnout Is A Cultural Problem

Blog header with a yellow background, the title of the blog "Burnout is a cultural problem" and a picture of a woman sitting at a desk. She is White, has blonde hair with highlights, she is wearing a beige striped shirt with a beige headband. She is leaning over her desk with there left arm on her right shoulder and her right arm straight out in front of her. She looks tired or depressed.

Why is burnout a cultural problem?

Hey y’all, it’s Erin here and for today’s blog I’m going to explain why burnout is a cultural problem. We understand that this may seem a bit of a stretch for some folks, but usually by the time we explain it, we get a lot of comments like “Oh my gosh, yes!” or “Now burnout makes so much more sense!”

When we started researching for our book, we spent a lot of time looking at how other experts, commentators, academics, and researchers were talking about burnout. What we found was both surprising and frustrating. We talk about burnout a lot in America. Like, a whole lot. But, by and large, we talk about it as an individual problem. 

While researching, we saw a lot of phrases like:

“Oh, you’re burned out? You must be a workaholic.”

“Feeling burned out? Check out our guide to setting better personal boundaries and learn how to tell your boss ‘no.’”

America is the most burned out country in the world. We know all the stats (and we have them in our book) about how Americans take the fewest vacation days, work the longest weeks, and suffer from the highest rates of burnout. 

The more research we did on burnout, the more we started to think that burnout sounded like more than just an individual problem. 

So what does it mean when we say burnout is a cultural problem?

Well, specifically here, in the USA, it means that we have cultural values that reward overwork and punish rest. It means that our cultural foundations go back to the idea that working hard means you are a good person, and that you should always work alone. Does any of that sound familiar?

America has a culture of burnout. A culture that celebrates exhaustion and makes work and success a moral judgment. When these ideas are baked into our culture so deep that most of us don’t even know they’re there, it means that burnout is a cultural problem, not an individual one. 

When we hit this realization – that as a culture we’ve been talking about burnout all wrong – we knew we had to do something about it. The first thing we did was write our book. And now, we’re launching this blog so that we can continue to help folks understand and recover from burnout. 

Burnout is a cultural problem, which means we have to work together to solve it. And we can solve it. It’ll be hard work, but we’re Americans, and we never shy away from hard work, right?

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