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22nd August, 2023

Are Your Tiny Traumas Building Up to Burnout?

With Dr Claire Plumbly

Photo of Dr Claire Plumbly

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On this episode

For people in caring professions, trauma can be something we experience on a regular basis. an event doesn’t have to be earth-shattering to be traumatic, and if we let those “little T” traumas build up over time without addressing them, we can find ourselves in a constant sate of fight, flight, or freeze.

When stress and trauma accumulate over time, we can minimise what triggers us and downplay our experience. Each time we do, we deplete our battery, pushing it from the green zone of calm and energy, to the amber zone of fight-or-flight, and if we’re not careful, into the red zone where accessing empathy and compassion – and even good decision-making – is much harder. This is often when burnout appears to come “out of nowhere”.

But there are ways we can disrupt the burnout pattern, and tap into our nervous system to help us in those moments when we’re triggered.

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About the guests

Dr Claire Plumbly photo

Reasons to listen

  • To understand the impact of “little T” traumas on our nervous system and how they can accumulate over time
  • To learn about the importance of recognising and prioritising self-care
  • To hear practical tips on how to recharge and avoid burnout

Episode highlights


Big T and little T traumas


Impact on the nervous system


Normalising stress and overworking


Giving ourselves space


How housekeeping can help with our stress response


Saying no to avoid burnout


Functional levels of IQ


Where is your battery level?


Burnout and trauma


Defining boundaries




Minimising trauma


Self-help strategies


The red zone


Finding safety


Claire’s top tips

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Rachel: Throughout our lives, particularly when working on the frontline with people who are hurting. we encounter little traumas that accumulate over time. Whether it’s feeling humiliated or belittled by a bully or going through a difficult breakup, these little T traumas can impact our mental and emotional wellbeing in ways we can’t always spot. And that build-up trauma can even impact our empathy and compassion, as they push us from calm into a fight or flight response. [00:00:29] Rachel: My guest this week is Dr. Claire Plumbly, a clinical psychologist who specializes in trauma. She calls that response…

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