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Moments of connection

by | Mar 30, 2022 | Burnout

Moments of connection


Our core internal stress management systems tend to respond to a sense of connection.

Where’s my connection?

People in Burnout often report feeling dislocated from colleagues, loved ones, and friends. There can be a sense that for every spare minute, there is an unyielding push from competing priorities. 

There are practical strategies that you can do to bring a sense of connection with important people, places and other features of your life. 

Connection sounds like hard work when you are consumed by a sense of impending doom. It can feel challenging to try to turn away from your worries – taking your eye off the “ball” could feel anxiety-provoking at times.

Science has demonstrated, however, that even brief moments of connection bring joy – which is equivalent to a moment of rest and breathing space to your stress system.  It activates our parasympathetic nervous system because we feel safe and tethered (in a good way).

Make time for connection

Sometimes, being with other people, even those you like/love, is too much to contemplate. The emotional demands of maintaining a reciprocal conversation can be daunting. Nevertheless, the brain experiences a sense of safety when we feel like we are “enough”. You can get that with loved ones, friends, but also with pets (who, let’s face it, love you regardless!). Anything that you out of yourself for a few minutes is likely to be helpful.

As you contemplate the coming few days, think about making time for small moments of connection with someone or something meaningful to you. Maybe try this for three days this week: that is three moments of connection that you engineer or notice, and which you consciously are aware of. Notice any change to your mood state, however fleeting.


Dr Bek is a Burnout Recovery (and Prevention) Coach with a special knack for working with professionals in the medical, nursing, and veterinary fields. She helps individuals and groups in developing sustainable, practical solutions to burnout that don’t take a lot of time or require you to wear leggings (unless you want to).


Self-compassion is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a frank evaluation of our current state, acceptance of our own vulnerability, and willingness to have good personal boundaries. 

Know your inner critic

Learning to turn the volume down on that critical inner voice is a constant challenge for many of us. 

Some try to drown it out with positive affirmations; others try to shout it down with logical reasoning and rational argument. There is merit in both approaches, but neither is likely to be sustainable. The energy required to keep it up is too demanding, especially when our resources are running low.

An alternative approach is to focus on not fighting the inner critic – it is, after all, part of what made you, you. Our critic tends to be over-protective – constantly checking, questioning, and doubting our capacities. Sometimes that is helpful – it contributes to keeping us accountable to our goals.

In Burnout, our critic is in over-drive and undermines our best efforts to rebalance. It highlights failures and minimises successes. Instead of being a motivating (if somewhat stern) force, it becomes a drain on our inner resources. 

Embrace self-compassion

Much of our work and personal life is shaped by a sense of compassion for others. We see suffering and we want to try to alleviate it. When we think about applying some of those same principles to ourselves however, somehow we’re being weak and vulnerable.

Kristen Neff refers to developing understanding of imperfection as being part of a life well-lived. She highlights negative emotions as requiring neither rumination nor suppression, but to simply exist alongside the positive emotions we so readily seek. Being imperfect, failing and experiencing challenges is part of living well. 

In practice, self-compassion looks like lowering the bar a little and not punishing yourself for doing it. 

In slowing our response process, conscious awareness gives us more time to head off unhelpful reactions to stressors and offers a better opportunity to respond in a considered and beneficial way. Bessel van der Kolk references intentional movement and practising stillness as essential to recovery for the parasympathetic nervous system.

Practices that support this approach focus on strengthening the connection between mind and body, such as defensive martial arts, meditation, breath work, and yoga. 

Making regular and committed time for these natural healing processes to occur, using the inherent capabilities you already have, is an important step in Burnout Recovery. 


Dr Bek is a Burnout Recovery (and Prevention) Coach who helps busy people create workable plans for managing the immutable stressors in their life. She has a special interest in working with professionals in the veterinary, nursing, and medical fields.


Rebekah Doley BA(Hons) GradDipPsyPrac MSc(Inv Psy) MJur(Law) MPsy(Clin)/ PhD
Clinical & Forensic Psychologist
Registered Psychologist (AHPRA) | Chartered Psychologist (BPS) | Mediator

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