Feeling burned out? How to recognize and manage it, in this month’s issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter”

March 2022 Vol 4 Issue 3

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Storytelling

Let me tell your story!

Welcome Mid-March 2022! Spring is here!

Most Saskatchewanians know that winter often isn’t yet over when the calendar says so. (A blizzard could still occur in the next six to eight weeks. Last year, we suffered crop-destroying frost after the May long weekend.)  . . . Yet haven’t the last two weeks of moderate temperatures and bright sunshine been a balm to our winter- and pandemic-weary souls?

In my neighbourhood, dogs who are out on walks with their owners, now appear without their winter coats and booties. Children are out in rubber boots, gleefully jumping in the puddles. (Look out for the sinkholes!). Spring officially began last Sunday (March 20th) and I hope, good reader, that you’ve had at least some time outdoors to enjoy it.

While the relief of longer daylight hours, the fresh air and warmth that come with spring make it my favourite season, I’m publishing this month’s issue a week later than usual. The rigours of tax season and winter/Covid exhaustion are two reasons why.

In the news, burnout has risen for entrepreneurs and professionals across all industries. For some of us, elder and/or childcare is added to the mix. Think too of our province’s health care workers, who have laboured, flat-out, for the public over the past two years or more. What do they and we do, when our proverbial wells have run dry? What helps to relieve burnout?

In this month’s issue, as part of my newsletter’s theme of “entrepreneurial wellness,” I share some simple strategies for identifying and addressing the problem from the writing staff of the Mayo Clinic.

Then, in “Storyteller’s Corner,” I feature a poetic meditation that may speak to you in these challenging times.

The Calgary-based, not-for-profit organization, Soul Sisters’ Memorial Foundation (which provides education on mental health), recently featured the poetry of ullie-kaye, a St. Catherine’s, Ontario artist. Special thanks this month to coach and facilitator Deanna Litz for sharing that posting, over Facebook.

As we try as a country to address international atrocities such as the war in Ukraine and our global climate crisis, I hope this month that we also remember local and personal challenges, like “burnout.” Can we find strength in the love and community of family and friends? . . . And in spiritual observances, such as Lent, and the forthcoming Ramadan and Easter?

My hope, good reader, is that each of us knows that our thoughts, emotions and actions –and how we express them–matter. And may we also know that we are not alone in enduring the challenges of these times.




Storytelling Communications




ARTICLE 1:Feeling burned out? How to recognize and manage it


A poem from Canadian artist, ullie-kaye





Article One: Feeling burned out? How to recognize and manage it

In a recent article on the Mayo Clinic website, staff writers define “burnout” as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

Yet “burnout” isn’t considered a medical diagnosis. Some researchers believe depression, personality traits, family and socio-economic circumstances determine who experiences burnout and how long it will last.

Across North America, business surveys (including Deloitte’s) report that between 52% and 77% of workers say they have experienced burnout at their current jobs. Entrepreneurs often report even higher numbers.

Further, 91% of corporate workers say that “unmanageable stress or frustration impacts the quality of their work, and 83% say that burnout can negatively impact [their] personal relationships” (my emphasis).

The “Harvard Business Review” cites that in the US, workplace stress leads to nearly 120,000 deaths and nearly $190 billion in spending each year. Statistics are not much better in Canada.

Indeed.com reports that burnout has indisputably risen in the past three years by about 9% from pre-Covid numbers, as boundaries of space and time, between work and home, professional and personal, have eroded.

When focusing on “job burnout,” the Mayo Clinic cites 10 questions to help you diagnose it. If you answer “yes” to any of them, the writers say burnout may be the cause:

(1) Have you become unduly critical at work (either of your own work, or others’)?

(2) Do you have to drag yourself to your desk/workplace and do you struggle getting started?

(3) Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?

(4) Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?

(5) Do you find it hard to concentrate?

(6) Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?

(7) Do you feel disillusioned about your job or business?

(8) Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or simply not to feel?

(9) Have your sleep habits changed?

(10) Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomach or bowel problems or other physical complaints?

Global pandemic circumstances can underpin work-related burnout, since Covid has made it difficult to control scheduling, assignments and workload. The pandemic has also brought a lack of needed resources.

Other factors precipitating burnout arise when work expectations are unclear, when you lack authority over your output; when you face dysfunctional workplace environments (such as bullying or micromanaging); when your work alternates between chaotic and monotonous, so that you need constant energy to remain focused; when you experience a lack of social support (in the office or at home) and a lack of balance between work and life.

Left untreated, burnout, as many of you know, can yield to substance abuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type-2 Diabetes and weakened immune systems (all the more worrisome in pandemic times).

So how can we manage work-related and personal burnout?  Many of the following factors from the Mayo Clinic will be familiar to you, but are worth considering:

(1) Discuss your concerns with your supervisor, business partner or client, “to change expectations or reach compromises or solutions.”

(2) Reach out to co-workers and friends, to seek support and collaboration. Corporate workers can use Employee Assistance Programs, or related services. Entrepreneurs are wise to take out medical insurance plans, often through their local Chamber of Commerce.

Counselling/psychotherapy may be the most crucial support. Remember that you are not reducible to the work you do, so that you do not feel your identity diminished by vocational struggles.

Be sure to allow yourself time to cope with emotional and physical pain. Bathrooms are sometimes outfitted with “headache” rooms, since repressing pain raises greater adversity over time. Psychologist Kristin Neff (whose work I have featured in prior issues of TYSN), has written that “suffering = pain x resistance.” So the more you resist/repress or fight your pain, the more you will suffer.

(3) Make time to practice relaxation activities, such as yoga, tai chi, meditation or hypnotherapy. Many apps are available, are low- or no cost, and can be used, even if you are on-the-go.

(4) Get regular physical exercise (Health Canada recommends 150 minutes of cardiovascular work, weekly) to help manage stress. You may find that watching a screen while exercising can distract your mind from work or family issues.

(5) In combination of the above factors, get plenty of rest. We all know that sleep restores well-being and protects our health.

(6) Practice mindfulness, by focusing on the flow of your breath and by allowing feelings and sensations to pass, without interpretation or judgment. Openness and patience can be gleaned from this process, which can help in workplace or entrepreneurial settings.

(7) For many of us, try to take a few continuous days of holidays, at least twice per year, when you can largely “unplug” from work-based messages and/or larger family circumstances. If you are heavily involved in caring for extended family, try to find a “substitute” or respite person, while you rest and recharge.

(8) My own tip to add is that spring has officially come and it can be highly therapeutic to take refreshing, daily walks in nature! By communing with nature in this good weather, engaging all of your senses in the new life that surrounds you, you can lighten mind, heart and spirit.

While most psychologists today suggest that “burnout” may be inevitable for most of us at some point, we need not stay stuck in a “burned out” state.

By recognizing symptoms and actively working to relieve them, our work and personal lives can be restored to health and well-being.

And now it’s your turn: Have you experienced burnout in the past two or three years? Have you found practicing the preceding kinds of tips to help? Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you.



STORYTELLER’S CORNER: Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . .

This month: Some meditative poetry from Ontario artist, ullie-kaye

In keeping with the theme of “burnout,” this month, I’m sharing some poetry from St. Catherine’s, Ontario artist, ullie-kaye. She writes and publishes poetry that expresses loss and pain, even as she reaches forward toward inspiration and joy.

You can find her page, “ullie kaye poetry,” on Facebook, where she describes herself as a “bestselling author and empath, . . . [who] writes for a world that seeks repair.” She also has an Etsy shop where she sells her own artwork.

What follows is one of my favourite poems from ullie-kaye. I emphatically do not share it to cajole world-weary entrepreneurs, cubicle workers or political refugees to work even more, which would be grossly unfeeling.

Instead, this poem finds what we do to be part of a larger, spiritual force that recognizes our worth as human beings, even on days when we do not feel it.

Here is ullie-kaye:

. . . carry on.

until you understand that life was not meant to be easy, or perpetually beautiful, or without pain or risk or loss. you will not know what miraculous things you are made of. you will not know to what extent your strength can push you through and what it feels like to build a bonfire inside your very own lungs that roars and billows and fights to the bitter end. you will not recognize the sound that tragedy makes when it begins to sing hallelujah into the vocal chords you believed to this day, were fast asleep. and you will never understand how capable you are to sit in silence and listen to the voice that says, ‘carry on, child, your work is not yet done here. 

Do you have stories to tell in poetry or other writing? Please write in; I’d love to hear from you. 



In light of the harrowing war in Ukraine, I want to thank two colleagues for lending their names and organizing support for our colleagues and friends in Eastern Europe. My former coach and friend, Deanna Litz, has promoted the work of the World Central Kitchen.


The WCK has served nearly one million nourishing meals to desperate Ukrainians who are fleeing Putin’s atrocities. Visit the WCK website to read more of the charity’s remarkable work in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.


My own spiritual group is responding to the humanitarian crisis  by responding quickly and keeping overhead costs down, so as to invest as much as possible in support for Ukrainians.(please consider donating to  https://presbyterian.ca/pwsd/2022/02/28/ukraine-crisis/),


And on a related note, another valued colleague and friend, Ukrainian- Canadian Christina Cherneskey, a PR, strategic media and communications specialist, has used her podcast platform to share the plight of friends in Ukraine, including an impromptu interview with marketing expert and artist, Meron Sembaliuk.


You’ll find the impromptu interview here, and on Christina’s Facebook page (“Christina Cherneskey”).


Christina also recently discussed the situation with Saskatoon’s own (equally amazing) Lenore Swystun, on Lenore’s radio show, “Civically Speaking” (CFCR 90.5 FM).


In other, more workaday news, I recently passed the 10-year mark for publishing Tell Your Story Newsletter! Archives on my website date to 2014, but three prior years of issues live on a former harddrive.


My former coach, Steve Slaunwhite (of Ontario), and e-newsletter pioneer, Michael Katz (of Massachusetts), offered praise over LinkedIn: Thank you, good friends, for making my month!


Steve first coached me to begin newsletter production in 2011 and Michael’s seminal book on the topic taught me the essential strategy to do it. So I’m living proof of the collaborative process of business-to-business communications and marketing!


Elsewhere, an overdue thank you goes to Julie Barnes of Julie Barnes’ Creative Services for sharing project leads and being an always positive, writerly colleague.


Julie’s work often appears in “Saskatoon Home” Magazine and online and in print.

Julie is a voracious reader, whose titles on “Goodreads” are always worth noting. I (not-so-secretly) hope that she will publish a manuscript of her own, to share her talents yet more widely! Meantime, her writing on her garden and work in it are truly impressive!


And an energetic shout-out to Northern Ireland-based, ESL teacher, Carl Cameron-Day, of TEFL.Org.

Carl is an internationally experienced ESL teacher, tutor, exam invigilator, and—as I know him—a wise advisor, who hosts webinars for more recently certified ESL teachers.

When a work week takes me off the trail of the ESL teaching that I love, I am always the better for tuning in to hear Carl’s insights on the profession.

His wry sense of humour adds to his charm. 🙂

ESL types can hear recordings of these webinars on YouTube and on Facebook, filled with tips and best practices.

There are always new people and stories to promote in “Shop News.” But this is a wrap for mid-March.



Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now teach new and prospective immigrants to secure better jobs by improving their English language skills; I continue to write communications documents that help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I research and write chapbooks that promote the legacies of major companies.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (www.elizabethshih.com).

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca).