That empty, exhausted feeling that we get when we have been living under prolonged stress and we can’t keep up with constant demands. It’s irritability, anxiety, losing sleep, illness. It’s that crushing, caving in feeling that arises in the heart when it’s been all used up.
When we are dealing with burnout, we have to be able to recognize the burnout before it totally derails us and address it. THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER TASK WE HAVE. The circumstances that lead to burn out are various, but ultimately burnout is a result of letting the anxiety, perfectionism, ambition, and the inner critic call the shots and we lose our sense of expansion and trust that everything is working itself out.
You have to start by being able to identify the burn out. For me, it looks like getting super irritable, not sleeping well, and getting sick. When I am on the verge of burnout, every little thing can send me into, as my mom would say, “a fit of pique.” Then I am constantly in this state of frustration and mistrust, I lose sleep and I get sick. It happens like clockwork, which is really a blessing in disguise - because I have spent the time listening to my body I can immediately recognize the signs and address it.
I have a simple four step formula for addressing burnout. It goes a little something like this:
TRUST that everything belongs. This feeling, this sensation, this frustration, this nervousness, it all belongs and it is all acting as a sign post to get you back on track. Trust the burnout, trust that you are being divinely lead, and trust that everything will work out in your favor if you allow it. This step always involves meditation, either self guided or something by Tara Brach.
REMEMBER why you are doing the work you are doing. Connect with a deeper and broader cause. Expand your context outside of your own, singular life, and remember that you are here to serve and that there is so much more going on in the world than your own suffering. If you don’t have a WHY then you’re either doing the work wrong or you’re doing the wrong work.
PRIORITIZE your tasks. You are busy, you have so many demands on your plate. When burnout is creeping in, it’s probably because you are taking on too much. Take the time to sit down, write it all out, decide what is most important right now, and have the courage to focus on just that. Again, this is the time to TRUST your intuition and only put the energy into the things that will feel good and energizing, not the things that you think you should do but will actually drain you more.
REST AND REJUVENATE. This will look different for everyone, except for that it starts with self care. Pause, and be sure you are making time to eat well, hydrate, and sleep. Then figure out the best way for you to rest and rejuvenate. You can take a page from my beloved mentor Emyrald Sinclaire's book and make a Love List that you can always refer to when you’re in need of a restful or rejuvenating activity. I do this and it works every time.
Most importantly, you have to LOVE YOURSELF through burnout. None of the above will be possible if you aren’t willing to put yourself and your well being first. You must dig deep and find the self compassion that says "I can stop. I can rest. I can only focus on the things that are alive for me. My well being is more important than the shoulds that you are being surrounded by."
Ok, I have to stop writing this post now because my kitty is reminding me that it’s time for stillness :)
You got this. Dig deep. Dream big. Live fully. Make an impact.