Take a moment and get grounded with me. I’m listening to John Legend’s “So High” and the birds chirping outside at this very moment. While sitting on the floor, I’m resting my body weight on the bed for support as I type. I smell the scent of my perfume and can still taste the remnants of orange juice that I drank a few minutes ago. Get present with me, take note of what you are feeling. Name something you see, smell, touch, taste, and hear.
I do this grounding technique to help center me as I write this in between sessions. My mind wanders to laundry, finishing a braided hairstyle, among the other lists of things I hope to complete this week. I find it hard to be present nowadays. Of course I give my clients my all but I recognize that it requires more energy than usual. I feel depleted, even after sleeping. I think it's fair to say sis is burnt out.
What is burnout?
Burn out is defined as a syndrome, not an actual mental health diagnosis or condition. It occurs when expectations or demands far outweigh the resources to dispense what's asked for or required.
As a therapist, burnout is a very dangerous place to be. I feel it’s my job to be present, engaged, and as mentally + emotionally healthy as possible. That being said, I am human and have felt it creeping up on me for the past two months.
Some symptoms I experienced were:
Feeling exhausted after sleeping
Work seeming to be emotionally draining
Feelings of loneliness increasing
Increase of anxiety episodes
Increase in depressive episodes
Difficulty with memory
Double booking and scheduling conflicts
Other symptoms of burnout are:
Sadness, anger or irritability
Alcohol or substance misuse
Vulnerability to illnesses
As easy as it has been for me to acknowledge changes in my health, it took me a minute to come to a conclusion as to WHY this was happening. My coping strategies weren’t long lasting so I knew I needed to do some research and figure out what area of my life needed some changes. Awareness + mindfulness practices have been crucial in helping me explore where I can create a difference in my life.
I took note of verbal complaints and exhaustion.
I leaned into my support network and asked them what they saw
For me, it boiled down to needing breaks from work. As an entrepreneur, there are always things to do… I always have open tabs in my head of things I want to accomplish today, tomorrow and this week. It was weighing me down.
I’m sure I’m not the only one experiencing this. As we continue to persevere through the pandemic, I’m seeing a lot of my clients reaching this point as well. Just over life (in the non-suicidal kind of way).
Here’s what I’m doing about my burn out issue. I’m implementing quarterly week-long vacation times and giving myself boundaries around work hours. I need to clock out! I’m also practicing mental dumping via alarms, sticky notes, and reminders have become my best friends. I’m significantly reducing the mental energy of remembering to-do’s. There are too many apps available that can free up some mental space.
What about you? What do you think you need to help address your burn out?
Ideas to help address burnout:
Listen to your body’s cues of distress
Ask people around you for input. People who see you or talk to you regularly may have some insight to things that are increasing stress in your life. Lean into those people and be open to receiving honest feedback.
Survey your pie. Consider different areas of your life and what feels burdensome or less enjoyable.
Do nothing. You might need to give yourself some time to be still. Plan a date with yourself, consider it an act of self care and schedule 20 mins to 1 hour to lay in your bed. No music. No screens. No talking. Oftentimes if you’re used to packing your schedule and going a million miles per minute you may need to insert a pause in order to create some space solutions to your burnout.
I’d love to hear from you, are you experiencing burnout? If so, what are you going to do about it?
Just in case you need the reminder… you are not alone, I am here.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
Book by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski