Canadian Work Culture: Combatting ‘The Great Exhaustion’

As a newcomer to Canada, you are not only facing the challenge of working survival jobs, building your network, and establishing a career, but also adapting to a new work culture. From country to country, there are subtle differences in how coworkers interact, how meetings are conducted, and even how much overtime is expected.

One term that has emerged in Canadian work culture recently is “The Great Exhaustion.” In a recent CBC article, The Great Exhaustion is characterized by a collective feeling of burnout amongst Canadian workers, especially Gen Zs and Millennials. This could be caused by a variety of factors, such as being bombarded with bad news through social media or even just general post-pandemic fatigue.

So, what does this mean? It means that professional self-care is more important than ever. Since we’re constantly connected, it’s hard to know when to shut work off. Not to mention trying to sift through the increasing demands of modern life.


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Understanding the Great Exhaustion in Canadian Work Culture

The Great Exhaustion is a term that has gained traction as more and more workers feel overwhelmed and burned out. This phenomenon isn’t just about feeling tired; it’s about a pervasive sense of fatigue that affects productivity, mental health, and overall well-being. Understanding the context of this exhaustion is the first step towards managing it.

The Importance of Professional Self-Care

Self-care in the professional setting is crucial. Unlike traditional self-care, which often focuses on personal time and relaxation, professional self-care involves strategies that help maintain your well-being while meeting job demands. This includes setting boundaries, managing your workload, and ensuring you have the time and resources needed to perform optimally.

Practical Self-Care Tips for Newcomers to Canada

Take Control Where You Can

There are many things outside of our control, and it can sometimes feel like we are hamsters on a wheel. However, the best self-care is to take action rather than just sitting and feeling stagnant. Carve out time for leisure, and make decisions in your own self-interest. When so much feels out of our control, it’s even more important to do small things for yourself each day.


Avoid Overworking During Brain Fog

When you’re experiencing brain fog, pushing yourself harder is counterproductive. If you’re having trouble concentrating, the most important thing you can do in the moment is stop. Take a break, drink some water, and allow your mind to rest. This can help reset your focus and improve your productivity in the long run.


Recognize and Address Burnout

Burnout is an indicator that something in your process is broken. It’s a signal that it’s time to renegotiate your agreements and perhaps reassess your workload. Take a step back and identify areas where you can make changes to alleviate the stressors contributing to your burnout.


Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion isn’t easy, but it’s essential. The goal isn’t to be everything to everyone. Instead, aim to provide value and perform optimally, which can only be achieved with sufficient nutrition, rest, and time for “play.” Allow yourself the grace to rest and recharge without guilt.


Navigating Canadian Work Culture: Additional Tips

Understand Workplace Norms

Each workplace in Canada has its own culture, but there are general norms that newcomers should be aware of. Punctuality, respect for diversity, and clear communication are highly valued. Observing and adapting to these norms can help you integrate more smoothly.


Build a Support Network

Networking is crucial in Canadian work culture. Build relationships with your colleagues, seek mentorship, and connect with professional groups. A strong support network can provide guidance, support, and opportunities.


Embrace Work-Life Balance

Canadian work culture increasingly values work-life balance. Employers understand the importance of downtime and often support flexible working arrangements. Take advantage of these opportunities to ensure you have a healthy balance between work and personal life.




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