What to do when you're suffering from burnout
I hit a wall this weekend, or should I say, that goddamn wall came crashing down on me brick by brick. I was rendered horizontal for 48 hours, and unable to do much other than sleep and drag my sorry carcass to the bathroom at least six times every hour of the night and day. It’s not a surprise to me that it happened, I knew to expect it. I’ve just completed 9 days of intensive NLP & Hypnotherapy training, and you can’t go through that kind of intensive transformational work and not expect your body to react to all the emotional release work going on.
To admit it fully, I had it coming. The amount people telling me that if I don’t ease up I’m going to burnout was getting more and more like white noise. I’m not proud, I’m super-aware of burnout and the dangers of it, I mean come on, I’m a coach for Crissake, that’s what I help people with when they’re both in it, and recovering from the fall out of it. I’ve been through it too many times to not recognise when it’s on its way, and yet, here I am again. Like a moth to a flame. But, what I’m also becoming so much more aware of the old stories of working too hard, and I’m working through them. I’m also becoming better equipped to recognise the more subtle cues of my body of when it’s on the way.
So, in an ode to burnout and how to deal with it, here’s some tools and guidance to help deal, or even better, avoid burnout all together. As I write these, I’m aware of just how much I am writing this for myself as I am for you, ah the joys of written therapy!
Seriously, slow the fuck down. It may not be your modus operandi, and you may love nothing better than putting the ‘glory’ into the glorification of being busy. But, slooooooowwwwww dowwwwn. You’re not winning prizes for being the most stressed out, wrung out person you know. Do it now before something comes along to force you down, and that takes a lot longer to recover from, believe me.
Tune into your body
Where are you feeling dis-ease in your body? Has a twinge in your back, or a low-level fuzzy head been playing out for the past few weeks, or months? Have you learnt to compensate for feeling dizzy recently, by cutting back on the booze? Maybe your IBS has been flaring up more than normal, and you’re trying out a gluten free diet to see if that stops the excruciating vice-like grip it has on your stomach. Well, listen up buttercup, these symptoms aren’t there to annoy you. They are a real indication that there’s something going on for you on an emotional level that is affecting your body. Think about where, and what, your symptoms are. If your body could talk (which it is through your dis-ease BTW), what would it tell you is going on?
Get real with your feelings
Use your body as a pendulum to what’s going on in your inner and outer world. Do you dread looking at your phone in the morning because you just know there’s going to be an aggy text or WhatsApp from your boss? When you get an email ping from that client or colleague, how does it really make you feel? Get underneath what it’s bringing up for you, dig a little deeper, not just with thoughts, but the feelings in your body. Where are they? How do they feel? What do you think they are indicating is going on? If it’s a certain person, or people who leave you cold, hot, or wanting to run for the nearest exit, ask your body; is it really them, or something that you haven’t yet resolved in yourself that they are triggering something in you? It will let you know.
Great real with time, not just a deadline
Here’s the thing about time; it’s stretchy, it moves faster or slower depending on our relationship with it in that moment. If you’re feeling overtly pressured by a deadline that you’ve set for yourself, then look at what you can do to take the pressure off. If you’re set a deadline by something externally to you, then get a perspective on how much time you need to complete certain tasks. You always have more time that you think you need, and there’s always enough. I can make minutes stretch into hours, by simply letting myself know that I have more than enough time to do what I need to do. It’s a weird thing, but it does slow things down. Try it.
Do something else. Anything else
If you are feeling the burn of overwhelm, then get the funk out of your house and go and do something else. Create. Do something with your hands; paint, draw, get all Ghost and get on a potters wheel. Mmmm, sexy clay fun. Sorry, where was I? This isn’t just about wasting time; taking some time out to be creative allows the right side of the brain some rest. Getting creative will allow you to be much more adept at tackling challenges from a different perspective when you go back to them, maybe even creatively.
Get in nature
I don’t like to think that the birds, trees, grass, sea and flowers would be laughing at us all trying to adult, and failing miserably, but you know what, I think they are. I’m pretty sure I heard the daisies and dandelions sniggering behind their petals at our completely fucking bonkers ways working and worrying as hard as we do. Make like a tree and spend time with the earth. It has a lot to teach, and just putting your hands on the groung will help you feel instantly better.
Go and have some of that thing called fun.
No brainer, go and have some fun, that’s an order.
Don’t rush back into things when you think you’re feeling better
OK, this one really is for me. Just because you’ve got enough energy to put your bra on doesn’t mean that you can go back full pelt to where you were before. Take it a little for a good couple of weeks, and even then, go back to things with a little more ease than you were before. You hear! OK, now I really am talking to myself.