Vital Burnout – A Call to Give Agency to the Vis
Alexia Georgousis, ND
Burnout is becoming more and more prevalent in our community and the healthcare profession at large. According to the Ottawa Citizen, “In Canada, approximately 46% of all doctors are affected by moderate to severe burnout.”1 This rate is likely very similar to that within the naturopathic community. You only need ask yourself how many naturopathic physicians you know are either currently experiencing symptoms of burnout or have actually burned out?
Is it possible, however, that burnout is much more than a state of collapse? As naturopathic physicians, we know that any “dis-ease” is indicative of a misalignment of one’s vitality – the vital force. We treat the person, not the label. So it is not a coincidence that the ICD definition of “Burn-out” (ICD Z73.0) includes the word “vital”: A state of vital exhaustion.2 There it is, right there in black and white – “vital” is connected to “burnout.”
Symptom vs Condition
This merits further exploration as to root cause. After all, we are proponents of the vital force, and as Dr Benedict Lust has stated, “Naturopathy, with all its various methods of treatments, has always one end in view and one only: to increase the vital force.”3
- Vital: Of utmost importance, Characteristic of life, Source of life 4,5
- Vitality: Energy, Spirit, Passion, Dynamism, Verve 6
- Vital Force: Innate wisdom, Divine intelligence3
- Vis Medicatrix Naturae: Healing Power of Nature; also known as God, Spirit, Universe, Allah, One, Buddha, Krishna, Great Mystery, Source, Love, etc3
Given this connection between Vital and Burnout, could Burnout actually be a symptom versus a condition? Viewing Burnout as a symptom of the Vis awakening (rather than a condition) creates a paradigm shift. Burnout becomes an incredibly purposeful and empowering experience intended to evolve our consciousness, as opposed to being a condition associated with disempowering terminology, such as nervous breakdown or collapse. The latter terms may well even contribute to feelings of shame, guilt, and victimization. Instead, we have the opportunity to embrace our spiritual expansion so that we may serve humanity for whatever is to come.
Choose the more empowering view:
|Break Open||Break Down|
|“Come open suddenly and violently, as if from internal pressure.”7||“Reduce, collapse, destroy, demolish.”7|
Further expansion of the words within the definition of Burnout (a state of vital exhaustion):
Thus, consider instead a naturopathic definition of Burnout as: Spiritual Existence Depletion. There are many ways to interpret or arrange these words, but, ultimately, the essence remains the same. The cause of Burnout is rooted in the Spiritual realm – in what makes us Vital. It is a misalignment of our vitality, the Vis within us. As a reminder of the connection between spirituality and naturopathy, Dr Benedict Lust said, “Naturopathy comes from the heart of nature through the heart of (hu)man to the heart of God.”3
A Different Approach to Burnout
How would our approach to Burnout change if we looked at it as symptom of conscious evolution instead of a “syndrome of psychological distress?”8 Consider Wayne Dyer’s famous quote: “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”
From the comparison chart below, choose the more empowering view:
|Where to Start?||Acknowledge and get help||Acknowledge and get help|
|Root Cause||External factors &/or
|Vis is awakening within you
Your Spiritual Self is evolving
External factors &/or personal disposition serve as guides and mirrors, to show you where you are misaligned
|Perspective||Happens TO YOU
· You are separate from Oneness
· You are breaking down
· You are shrinking
|Happens FOR YOU
· You are part of Oneness
· You are breaking open
· You are expanding
|Treatment Approach||Treat the Symptoms
Change/shift external factors from a place of blame or victimization
· Learn to manage internal responses
|Treat the Root Cause
· Consciousness Evolution: Shed unhealthy ego identities and patterns; strengthen and cleanse your energetic spiritual field
Change/shift external factors from a place of self responsibility and empowerment
· Giving agency to the Vis within allows you to shift internal responses
|Intention/Goal||Get back to how you were
|Become wiser and more whole
Allow a shift in consciousness
|Cultural & Personal View||Shame, fear, inadequacy, grief
· Stigma; don’t talk about it
|Renewal, Re-Alignment, Growth
· Share your wisdom and experience with others
What better way for the Vis to wake us up as a collective than to shatter our sense of identity and make us question, re-evaluate and re-align ourselves with our essence? By choosing to approach Burnout as a process of spiritual evolvement rather than a collapse, we embrace our conscious evolution.
The Vis is speaking – are YOU listening?
- Smith MD. Medical community studying physician burnout, compassion fatigue. Updated August 17, 2014. Ottawa Citizen Web site. https://tinyurl.com/y7cu5o9k. Accessed July 25, 2018.
- World Health Organization. ICD-10 Version: 2016. Burn-out. Available at: http://apps.who.int/classifications/icd10/browse/2016/en#/Z73.0. Accessed July 25, 2018.
- Kirchfeld F, Boyle W. Nature Doctors: Pioneers in Naturopathic Medicine. East Palestine, OH: Buckeye Naturopathic Press; 1994.
- Merriam-Webster. Vital. Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vital. Accessed July 25, 2018.
- com. Vital. Available at: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vital?s=t. Accessed July 26, 2018.
- org. Vitality. Available at: https://studysite.org/dictionary/English-meaning-of-vitality. Accessed July 26, 2018.
- Power Thesaurus. Break open. Available at: https://www.powerthesaurus.org/break_open/definitions. Accessed July 26, 2018.
- University of California, San Francisco. MacArthur Research Network on SES & Health. Vital Exhaustion – A Syndrome of Psychological Distress. Last revised September, 1997. Available at: https://macses.ucsf.edu/research/allostatic/vital.php. Accessed July 26, 2018.
Alexia Georgousis, ND, practices in Toronto, Ontario. She is committed to whole-person health and has a special interest in spirituality and health. Alexia has trained as an Applied Mindfulness Meditation specialist and she incorporates various forms of Vis connection practices in her work with clients. She is also a faculty member at the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine.