Burn Out- The Art of Burning and Restoring

Burn out is real. It can happen to literally all of us. Not just therapists.

All of us are susceptible to the fires of burn out. Why you may ask?

Because we are humans.

Humans are soft, fleshy, brain cells and nervous systems. Not robots.

Hear that again. You are a human, not a robot.

Good now that we have been reminded of our humanity let's keep going.

Burn out and exhaustion can happen to any brain or body if it is being worked and stressed more than it is allowed to rest and restore.

It can even happen to those actively working to prevent it and those who have never even considered that was something they could experience.

My first years as a therapist I learned about burn out about it FIRST HAND.

I hit the wall.

I lost myself.

I neglected my body.

I forgot my needs.

I said yes to all the things.

It wasn’t pretty.

All the while preaching daily about caring for self and soul (grace SC, grace.)

I learned in a big way the danger of burnout.

I learned the symptoms...

These were some of mine…

  • Lack of empathy for self and others

  • Depersonalization (feeling like a shell of myself.)

  • Anxiety (extreme monkey mind/ body tension-tightness)

  • Overwhelm

  • Brain Fog

  • Neglecting basic needs

  • Emotional exhaustion

  • Isolating from friends and family due to lack of ability to hold one more ounce of space

  • Feeling stuck in unhealthy relational patterns

  • Ignoring phone calls/texts because I couldn't imagine talking to another human.

  • Ignoring physical health symptoms

  • Showing up for others and abandoning self

  • Not moving my body (exercise)

NOT GOOD. Since then I have moved in and out of a few burn out cycles, each time learning to catch the symptoms sooner, verbalize them to trusted friends and colleagues, and make moves and decisions to restore.

As we completed the first half of 2021, and as the world has been changing AGAIN, I flirted with the fire. I did not get fully scorched but the flirtation was real and I am challenged to continue the practice of SEEING THE SIGNS… NAMING THEM…and DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

I wanted to share this to...

  1. Humanize this experience and shine some light and grace.

  2. Give language and signs if you too may struggle in this way.

  3. Encourage us to FIND THE WAY OUT.

It is important to engage with your burnout symptoms with grace and compassion and also seriousness. They can come upon us easily and can also lead to places we do not want to visit or stay.

You are probably doing a lot and this world is a lot right now so breathe, name, share, and find a moment of rest.

Leaving this post with some legit quotes from Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

“The good news is that stress is not the problem. The problem is that the strategies that deal with stressors have almost no relationship to the strategies that deal with the physiological reactions our bodies have to those stressors. To be “well” is not to live in a state of perpetual safety and calm, but to move fluidly from a state of adversity, risk, adventure, or excitement, back to safety and calm, and out again. Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is bad for you.”

“Rest is, quite simply, when you stop using a part of you that’s used up, worn out, damaged, or inflamed, so that it has a chance to renew itself.”

“So how much rest is “adequate”?

Science says: 42 percent.

That’s the percentage of time your body and brain need you to spend resting. It’s about ten hours out of every twenty-four. It doesn’t have to be every day; it can average out over a week or a month or more. But yeah. That much.

“That’s ridiculous! I don’t have that kind of time!” you might protest—and we remind you that we predicted you might feel that way, back at the start of the chapter.

We’re not saying you should take 42 percent of your time to rest; we’re saying if you don’t take the 42 percent, the 42 percent will take you. It will grab you by the face, shove you to the ground, put its foot on your chest, and declare itself the victor.”

“Rest” doesn’t just mean sleep—though of course sleep is essential. Rest also includes switching from one type of activity to another. Mental energy, like stress, has a cycle it runs through, an oscillation from task focus to processing and back to task focus. The idea that you can use “grit” or “self-control” to stay focused and productive every minute of every day is not merely incorrect, it is gaslighting, and it is potentially damaging your brain.”

“When you are cruel to yourself, contemptuous and shaming, you only increase the cruelty of the world; when you are kind and compassionate to yourself, you increase the kindness and compassion in the world. Being compassionate toward yourself- not self-indulgent or self-pitying, but kind- is both the least you can do and the single most important thing you can do to make the world a better place...the world is changed when we change.”

Emily and Amelia Nagoski, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

It's okay to be the human you are.

Take Care

Take Heart


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