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Burnout (1)

BURNOUT

Burn·out ::ˈbərnˌout/ noun :: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

As a psychotherapist that primarily works with women, I receive a plethora of emails and phone calls asking for help with “burn out.” Often, what women are referring to is the feeling of physical and/or emotional fatigue after a particularly difficult time in their lives.

BURNOUT

Burnout (1)

Burn·out ::ˈbərnˌout/ noun :: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

As a psychotherapist that primarily works with women, I receive a plethora of emails and phone calls asking for help with “burn out.” Often, what women are referring to is the feeling of physical and/or emotional fatigue after a particularly difficult time in their lives.

What I hear is “I am worn out.”

Some are coping with a special needs child, going through a major life transition or working at a high demand, low satisfaction job. Others have chronically swum in a pool of anxiety, fear, guilt, low self-esteem, or pain/illness and have very little reserves left.

What I hear is “I am worn out. Things have been hard. I am craving a mental break and a supportive hand to help me collect the scattered, messy parts of myself and put them back into an integrated whole.”

In the 20th century, we went from CEO of the home to CEO of The Company (and the home) and as a result we’ve abdicated being CEO of our gorgeous bodies and inimitable spirits. In the 21st century, some believe we should have beautiful, well-appointed homes, manicured lawns and nails, forced to prove ourselves endlessly at work, PLUS, be super fit, with zero laugh lines and long faux lashes (damn Kardashians).

Our days seem primarily task oriented and pressured. 

Walk the dog! Clean the house! Sign the permission slip! Get that report in to the boss! Get laser treatment prior to swim practice! We live life in exclamation points and it all feels capital “I” Imperative and capital “C” Crucial. While doing the Imperative and Crucial, we are also staring at our iPhones ordering on Amazon Prime to get everything STAT. So, what is plain old stress and what is true blue burnout?

Stress: Stress has an energizing affect.

We may feel anxious and on high alert. Emotions tend to be heightened. Sleep may be impaired and we often crave sugary, processed food to give us an instant boost. We are typically overactive and overly committed. It feels pressured but with a sense that once it passes, we’ll have things under control again.

Burnout: Burnout can be a result of unrelenting stress, habitual negative thoughts about self, or a result of a life trauma.

Burnout has a deflated, drained feeling. Emotions tend to be flat. We are more detached and apathetic. Our energy is very low. Our immune system gets compromised easily. Headaches happen. Being around other humans, even those we love, feels exhausting. Self doubt or an overall sense of failure may be in the driver’s seat. More often Type A, perfectionist personalities who have a need to feel in control arrive to burnout station quicker.

Chronic stress can affect our adrenal glands.

Our adrenals sit on top of our kidneys and are the source of our stress hormones. One of the purposes of these hormones is to put us into fight or flight to give us the energy to cope with an immediate need or crisis. However, when high stress living is relentless and we are moving the speed of light, we end up living in a state of fight or flight. Cortisol is released and our adrenals can get fatigued. What can we do to address stress and burnout?

Start to assess what you ingest

Senses:

If you are edging up to burnout or are sitting in the ashes, take it as a sign to be vigilant of what is taken in with the senses. For instance, if your eyes are constantly on a screen or downtime is mostly spent watching jarring, jolting, fearful or mind-numbing TV that doesn’t add value to your life and leaves you feeling empty; set clear boundaries on the use of technology. If the majority of your reading comes from National Inquirer or fashion magazines that highlight your imperfections and induce feelings of unworthiness or a general sense of lack, eliminate those from your coffee table. These are the things you have control over.

Food:

Your body and spirit simply cannot thrive on pre-packaged, non-nutrient dense foods. Excessive stress combined with lack luster nutrition exhausts the adrenals. Be aware of book-ending your life with stimulants; caffeine all morning + sugar by afternoon + ending with alcohol in the evening. These all give us a quick boost of energy, but eventually weaken the adrenal system. If you are confused and not sure how to begin, seek out a Naturopath, Integrative or Functional Medicine doctor who will often look deeper into the human body and spirit to find ways to bathe your body in supplements, remedies, and foods that heal at a core level.

Environment:

Replace toxic chemicals in your home and in your beauty products with non-toxic ones. We are all exposed to chemicals in our water, food and air, but we have last word over what we bring into our sacred spaces or put on in and on our bodies. Eating food that has been heated in plastic containers may have added substances called bisphenol-A (BPA) and plastic phthalates. This makes plastic soft and flexible, however, these substances are believed to be “endocrine disrupters.” They mimic human hormones, and not for the good. A reputable site to use if you want to check on the “health” of your products is https://www.ewg.org.

Other Humans:

If Chronic Complaining Caroline or Negative Nelly are who you are supping with on a regular basis, you may need to do some people purging or move them further out from the dinner table. There are physical and emotional ramifications if you are in a toxic relationship and are not setting boundaries or using your virtuous voice. Crucial, open conversations are uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as constant tension in your body.

Tend to your emotional body

Move stuck energy:

Emotions (energy in motion) are messengers that pass through our bodies on a regular basis to give us intel on what needs to be addressed. When we don’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions or they get stuck due to trauma or negative thought patterns, it affects our entire circuitry. It literally causes dis-ease.

There are many ways to move energy (at no cost.) One is to feel emotions and observe them, so they flow through you. We tend to resist what feels painful. When we allow a difficult emotion to be fully felt and not judge it, then it can go along its merry way and be released from the body. Try it next time you are in the grips of guilt, worry or fear. If you want to read more about befriending emotions, check out David Hawkins book Letting Go or Karla McLaren’s book The Language of Emotions.

Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): this technique is the cat’s meow, the bees knees, and the glitter bomb of glory. All you need is your fingertips and an open mind. Google it.  YouTube it. Practice it regularly, at first in the privacy of your own home because you will definitely feel ridiculous in the beginning. Reiki, Cranial Sacral therapy or Somatic Experiencing are all ways you can target stuck energy and move it through you.

Earthing:

Take your worn out body and sit on the earth. Swim in natural waters. Read under trees. Go out where there are living things; flowers, waterfalls and birds singing. Grounding or earthing allegedly reduces the affect of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) that blast from our modern technology and heals or reduces inflammation and stress hormones in our bodies.

In essence, your body always keeps score and it speaks fluent You. That heart has been in your sweet body (nearly) since conception. It’ll always try to get your attention, whether it is through your waning spirit or a nagging pain in your left breast. It makes noise so we hear it. If we listen to it and befriend our bodies, it will guide us to adjust ourselves to wholeness again. As far we know for sure, we have this one beautiful, wild, life. Choose to make the needed changes to thrive. Repeat after me, from author Louise Hay:

In the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole and complete. I recognize my body as a good friend. Each cell in my body has Divine Intelligence. I listen to what it tells me, and know that its advice is valid. I am always safe, and Divinely protected and guided. I choose to be healthy and free. All is well in my world.”

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