I recently reached out to a friend who is a mental health practitioner asking for some books to read concerning finding joy in life, relationships and work again. As we all thaw from the craziness of 2020 and 2021, I found myself literally frozen in moments where all I could muster was work, a little exercise and too much Netflix. I found myself disconnected from life in a way that scared me and also left me little joy. Finding joy has become one of my mantras for 2022 and it has begun with a very wonderful book about burnout called….BURNOUT: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle (by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA).
Although this book is written by and for women in particular, I think anyone who struggles with burnout would benefit for some of the lessons in this very easy and quick read. So how do you know if you’re struggling with burnout? The authors list 4 “clues” that I found very helpful to keep in mind and to recognize the need the recharge:
- When you have been gaslit (this is a very popular term right, so look up the origin!)
- When you feel “not enough.”
- When you’re sad.
- When you are boiling with rage.
The big takeaways from this book for me were the following:
- Be nicer to myself and have more self-compassion. Self-care cannot and should not be on the back burner for any of us. They write about the difference between Human Beings and Human Givers. Human Beings are allowed to live their lives to the fullest and be supported by Human Givers who sole purpose is to support Human Beings. As a woman and a doctor, I have definitely been trapped in Human Giver Syndrome. My love language is doing things for others and this is quick way to achieve burnout.
- Set and stick to boundaries. Oh man, has this been a hard one for me and so has been another mantra for 2022. Being a solo practitioner can be very challenging when trying to do everything myself. Being a wife can be very challenging when I am used to doing most of the cooking, cleaning and food shopping and I can’t do that anymore because my practice is busy. And being a friend can be very challenging when I have emptied my cup by serving others all week and then have nothing left for spending time with friends or family on the weekends. Setting boundaries and asking for help, but I can always do a better job at both.
- Do a little movement everyday. One of the best (and perhaps only way physiologically) to overcome stress is to physically release it. When we see animals in the wild have a stressful event (say getting into a fight or being chanced by another animal) once they have found safety will literally SHAKE IT OUT! Often times this is not appropriate in the moment or we need to hold it in until whatever stressful interaction is over before we can shake it out. But it is important that once we find safety (away from the situation, at home, at a friend’s house, etc) that we move our bodies to reset the nervous system and complete the stress cycle so we aren’t stuck in it. Get out and move your body even if it is dancing in your living room, going on a walk outside or sometimes you just gotta do burpees to release the energy!
For anyone who is feeling burnout I highly recommend this book and at the very least have more self-compassion, set boundaries and get your body moving. Life is hard. For everyone. Be nice to yourself… treat yourself like you would your best friend’s kid. Namaste.