Raise your hand if you feel like you’ve been burnt out, either currently or sometime in the past.
I bet most of you raised your hand.
Burnout is not a new idea. Burnout is pretty common, and the rates of it are going up.
The term was coined in the 70’s, and it has 3 components.
- You are emotionally exhausted
- You don’t feel like you can care about anything or anyone anymore
- You feel like nothing that you’re doing matters
Burnout basically has two parts. High stress levels and emotional exhaustion.
So how do we deal with burnout, either treating it or preventing it? You have to address BOTH the stress AND the emotion. Most people just think they can work less or delegate more to reduce their stress levels, which is a tiny little part of what really needs to happen.
You have to trick your brain into believing that the everyday stresses we go through actually come to an end.
Money will never not be a source of stress for people, parenting will never not be a source of stress, relationships, work, the list is endless. And most of these chronic stresses really don’t end.
But we need to make our body think that they do!
How do we do that?
- Physical activity – if you were crossing the street and a car comes speeding at you, what do you do? You try to jump out of the way. There should be a significant physical activity component to any stressful situation. Jumping, running, fighting, and others are all part of a normal stress response. But you can’t fight your kids or run away from work. Adding in physical activity in other places during the day can do the trick.
Maybe you run around the car 5 times when you get home. Or you have a punching bag in your house. Or do you do push ups in your office. Something that moves your body every day will help process your stress hormones.
- Crying/screaming – most people don’t love to do this because they feel self conscious, and it makes other people around them anxious. Have you ever screamed at the top of your lungs in your office? Probably not, and I’m not suggesting that you do. But having a place where you can safely have a good cry, or a nice screaming session, can be incredibly therapeutic.
Check out this article on a bunch of moms who went to scream on a football field after all the stress of Covid.
- Dancing/Singing – both of these can be incredibly therapeutic. Dancing lets you move your body a little bit more. Singing lets you move your lungs, but both can be helpful. Or take the best of both worlds and combine the two!
- Affection – another important part of the stress cycle is that it resolves. You leap out of the way of that car that was going to run you over, and you’re safe! Adding in daily activities that make us feel safe is another very important way to lower your stress levels. Affection can do just the trick. A 6 second kiss or a 20 second hug with someone you love is a wonderful way to feel safe. You would never kiss or hug someone that you don’t feel safe with for that long. It doesn’t need to be a partner – a friend, a parent, a child will also do. There’s also a ton of evidence to show that even snuggling your pet can lower your stress.
- Mindfulness – same old, same old, but incorporating this in every day is key to lowering stress, and making you feel safe and secure. Even a few deep breaths during the day can improve your stress drastically.
- Creating – when we’re busy running away from stressful events, creativity is not something we have time for. But this is another thing we can do daily to make us feel safe. When we give ourselves space to do whatever it is we enjoy (cooking, drawing, writing, painting, crafting, building, etc.), that is another sign to our bodies that stress isn’t an urgent problem. Finding some creative time every day can really help with burnout.
But we can’t forget about the emotion! Because remember: burnout = stress + emotion.
Processing our emotions properly is the best way to heal and prevent future burnout. This can be a BIG task. We’re not very good at processing emotions because we don’t like feeling negative emotions, and people around us get uncomfortable when we experience negative emotions.
But those negative emotions are there, they’re real, and they need to be dealt with.
Properly processing emotions might mean that you need to find a great external support, like a psychologist, a counselor, a social worker, a psychotherapist, or someone else you trust. But if you want to start the journey on your own, here is where I’d recommend you start:
- Awareness – start to become aware of the emotions that you’re experiencing. No judgement, just awareness. Recognize what changes in your body and how you feel when there’s a new or negative emotion.
- Name your emotion – despite the fact that we logically know what the names of the emotions are, we aren’t great at naming the emotions we experience. There is a lot of anger and rage in the world right now, and I believe a great deal of that comes from fear. There are a lot of scared people in the world right now, and anger and rage are often how fear shows up.
- Let it happen – just sit with the emotion and let it happen. No emotion (not even the good ones) last forever. You might need to move to a space where you can be alone, but giving yourself the space to just experience the emotion is incredibly important.
None of this is easy! All of this is hard work, and it takes time.
But here’s the thing – no one can do this work for you. And I promise you, no one else is going to advocate for you. If you are feeling burnt out, you need to figure out what needs to happen in your life to fix that, and then put a plan in place. There are tons of resources and supports for you, but you have to take that first step. And you should, because you deserve it!
One of the best resources on burnout I’ve found is Dr. Emily Nagoski. If this topic is interesting to you, this is a great video about burnout that you should check out this video.
And if you’re struggling with sleep as a result of burnout (or maybe that might be aggravating your burnout), book a free call with me right now so we can talk about getting some of those resources and supports into place for you. Click here to book!