Burnout, Baby: Five Ways to Fill Your Tank

Friends, we are fighting a virus, not each other. Am I starting to sound like a broken record? Well, crank it up, because it’s a song for the ages. As restrictions loosen, we cautiously peek out of our caves and wait, in anticipatory anxiety, to see what happens next. Some of us feel tense about the reopening, the variants, and the potential of a fourth wave, while others are making big summer party plans. 

Yes, the reopening is a highly divisive topic right now, but we have more in common with each other than we know. Our bodies are tired on a cellular level, our minds are emotionally drained, and our patience has been worn down to dust. Shouldn’t we be used to the disconnect, loss of control and fear? The short answer is no. It ain’t over yet, and many of us are feeling burnt right out.

What is burnout?

According to Psychology Today, Burnout is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” It was coined in the 1970s by our psychologist friend, Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in “helping” professions. Nowadays, we use the term more broadly. It can affect anyone, from stressed-out career-driven people to overworked employees and stay-at-home parents. 

What are the symptoms of burnout? 

Symptoms of burnout are no joke, and can include the following: 

  • unexplained muscle tension, pain, fatigue, and insomnia
  • forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
  • helplessness, hopelessness and resentment
  • difficulty maintaining relationships 
  • frustration and irritability

Sound familiar? We’re all experiencing burnout, to some degree, in relation to the pandy. For 15+ months, we’ve been in a heightened state of arousal, worried about the illness, waiting for the next announcement, longing to reconnect to the people who hold us. We’ve grieved in countless ways and our brains have taken a serious toll. If you feel like you’re in a pandemic fog – you’re not alone. We’re all tired and looking for answers and it’s critical that we start talking about it. If you’re free on June 28th at 7:00pm MST join us for a live discussion about what our brains have been through and how we get back to the healthier versions of ourselves.

Stay in the light, friends. It’s all around you and it’s only getting brighter. Let’s make it our summer mission to gas up and get back on that highway! Here are a few tips to fill your tank:

  1. Drop your shoulders and breathe deep. I’m no yogi master, but I do know that calming the central nervous system starts with breathing through the belly, relaxing the jaw and not wearing the shoulders as earrings.
  1. Reconnect with your bottom hands. You need someone in your corner, whether it’s a friend, teacher, spouse or therapist. Pressing the reset button after burnout can be a lengthy process, and we’re all going to need to lean on each other.
  1. Make time for sleep and nutrition. Crashing into bed at midnight after two hours of potato-chip-eating, wine-drinking and screen-staring usually doesn’t result in the highest quality sleep. Give yourself the gift of a vegetable and an early bedtime or a sleep-in. In this time of disconnection, a restorative eight hour snooze could be a game-changer. 
  1. Practice self-compassion. Ask yourself, “Would I be this hard on my best friend?”  Chances are, you would never shit-talk them the way you shit-talk yourself. Grant yourself the kindness of knowing that your brain isn’t ready for hard things just yet.
  1. Set boundaries that work for you. Some of us feel anxious about the mess of the reopening and the flood of expectations that come with it. Don’t be afraid to manage your stress by setting limits on how and where you spend your time. People-pleasing is not the answer; be honest about what you need and take it.

It’s a process, sweet muffins. Breathe deep often and water yourself just a little more. Remember, the burnout is just the disconnect. Let’s open our hearts, be fucking nice, and just notice the moments.