ACT for Burnout: Toxic Environments

ACT interoceptive exposure

Key Points

  1. When faced with burnout in a toxic work environment, it’s important to explore what the client has control over vs what cannot be changed.
  2. The first step can be trying to promote changes in the environment by changing one’s own behavior or setting boundaries.
  3. If the environment is the problem then “quiet quitting”, doing the bare minimum, can help clients meet their responsibilities while conserving their energy for exploring options outside the current workplace.
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It’s Not You, It’s Me

When doing defusion work with clients, some might resist, saying that this is their reality, not something to distance themselves from. Their boss told them that they have to do this, or their co-workers say that they’re the problem.

The way forward is to separate their environment from what they have control over. They can’t make their boss do something, nor – usually – get them fired. They can’t make their co-worker nicer. They can’t force others to change.

What they can do is change how they respond in the moment. That might mean setting boundaries. Or it may involve examining their own behavior and developing an understanding of how others might feel about it. Perhaps we’re often miserable, for instance, and affecting the work environment.

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