Stress, Burnout & the Magic in Simply BEingJun 27, 2022
Well, hello there. It’s been a while, but, after a bit of a break, I’m back. I’d like to share some of what’s been going on in my journey the past few months. I have a feeling that you’ll be able to relate.
In a nutshell, this year so far has been exceptionally challenging. Thankfully, there has been a lot of really great stuff happening, but it’s definitely been a tough one so far. I’m not going to make lists of all of the so-called good or bad stuff that’s been going on. Instead, I’ll summarize by saying that I’m responsible for multiple businesses with multiple projects and initiatives, I’m aware of the world and national news, I have relationships and a house and body to take care of, and I have the things to work through just like everyone else.
I have all the stuff that people have and this year has been a bit extra. There has been more going on and the barrage of news from around the world has been heavier and heavier, and all at a faster pace. It’s been a lot…a lot. It’s been overwhelming and there have been times when I have been straight up burned out.
Jon Kabat-Zinn describes overwhelm as “life is somehow unfolding faster than the human nervous system and psyche are able to manage well.”
As Brene Brown brilliantly summaries in her book Atlas of the Heart, “Stressed is being in the weeds. Overwhelmed is being blown.”
Brene expands with these explanations:
“We feel stressed when we evaluate environmental demand as beyond our ability to cope successfully. This includes elements of unpredictability, uncontrollability, and feeling overloaded.”
“Overwhelmed means an extreme level of stress, an emotional and/or cognitive intensity to the point of feeling unable to function.”
These definitions and explanations explain how I’ve felt perfectly. It didn’t matter how many activities, events or emotions could be labeled as good or exciting, it had no impact on the sheer volume, nor did it mitigate the gravity of some of the events. I was blown, my nervous system couldn’t cope, and I was beyond the point of being able to function.
Can you relate?
Of course, the productive part of me wanted to just keep pushing through, I mean, I’ve got goals and plans and people who rely on me. I had to keep going, right?
…just this one more thing and then I can take a break…
…let me just get through this one thing and then…
…I just need to finish this one project and then things will calm down…
There was no negotiating, though. I knew that it was time for me to get away for a few days to take care of myself. I had to leave the habits and ways of how I interacted with my house, my projects, my furniture, everything. I had to disconnect from everyone. I needed a space that felt aligned for me to unravel. I needed a fresh space to process and release. As if my mind needed to ‘catch its breath’ without all of the same reminders and triggers I was surrounded with each day.
I headed out of town for a few days envisioning all the reading, journaling, yoga and walking that I could fit into each day. I just knew that that would all replenish me.
Here’s the deal, though, I was waaayyy past the point of being stressed and needing some typical self-care time.
The only thing I really needed was space to simply BE.
For the next three days, I allowed myself to flow without expectations or an agenda. And it was amazing. I rested and slept a lot, like a lot. I processed all of the activity of the year so far and I let my emotions about everything flow.
I’ve noticed how, when we have so much going on, it can feel so much easier – and necessary – to push emotions down and not give the space to process them fully. We may remember how exhausting it can be to deal with uncomfortable emotions or conversations (not to mention all the tears!) We may not know how to handle the situation or feel like we don’t have time to deal with feeling derailed, so we do our best to simply continue on.
Have you experienced this?
The problem with not dealing with our emotions fully or in a timely manner, though, is that they will inevitably resurface. They may even come out sideways in the form of lashing out at loved ones or by creating some other issue in another area. We may turn to overworking or over-committing to fill up the space in our minds so we can keep those unresolved emotions from creeping their way back in. Or turn to things like food, alcohol, drugs or shopping to try comfort, numb or distract ourselves.
What happened for me when I was so burned out and I gave myself space to simply be is that all sorts of uncomfortable past emotions, stories and memories started popping up too. And I welcomed it all to the party.
I allowed space for everything to flow, no matter how ugly. I sat with each emotion and scenario as it appeared. I witnessed what I was feeling, what I had felt. I acknowledged the source. And then I let it float away. There weren’t a lot of (or any?) tears and I didn’t try to capture anything in my journal.
I simply allowed, witnessed and released.
And then, just like that... I was ready to go home. I felt back to my normal happy, energetic self again. I promptly packed up and headed home. Not only did I get my mojo back, but I felt like a whole new me.
I had even more capacity and flow returning home and to my work and people. I was more grounded in my true self than ever and felt empowered to show up in an even better way in all of my interactions. I had not only healed my burnout, but I had cleared lingering bits of things that had been cluttering up my subconscious. It was an epic shift.
I know from recent conversations that so many people are struggling right now. We are navigating situations that are new to us, issues that we never thought that we would have to deal with, things that change faster and faster every day…and that’s all on top of just trying to figure out life in general! If we aren’t stressed out or burned out, we’re teetering on the edge.
Questions in our minds like…
How can I take time for myself when I don’t even feel like I have enough time for everything I need to do?
How can I make space when I am committed to doing these things?
How can I pursue my dreams and thrive when I’m working so hard every day to simply survive?
How can I give myself ‘space’ when I know that so many people are relying on me to be there?
How can you not?
It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling stressed or burned out, or if you have lingering whatever to resolve.
We must make time for ourselves. When we take time for ourselves, we will be able to show up for ourselves and others from a much more grounded, compassionate and joyful space.
I know you want to be there for others and you want to make a positive impact on the world around you and beyond. When we show ourselves the same love and respect that we give to others by taking time to honor and care for ourselves too, we will create an even bigger positive ripple out into the world. We’re counting on you!
Look, I know it’s hard to say no, especially if it’s something that we’re passionate about or really want to do. But there may be times when it’s genuinely the best thing we can do for everyone. And, hey, it can be a ‘no for right now.’ (I’ve really been practicing this one since I returned!)
I’m here to support you. I created a summer self-care workshop series that starts next Wednesday, July 6 at 7pm CT with the workshop How to Heal & Prevent Burnout. I invite you to join us!
Please feel free to share the link with anyone else you know who could use it. Be sure you register even if you’re not sure you can make it so you’ll receive info on future dates and workshops coming soon.
Of course, please find a good therapist or any other professionals you feel that you would benefit from, too.
I’m here on this journey and doing the work with you! I thought it was important to share my story of what’s been going on. Like I said, so many are struggling with stress and burnout. I want you to know that you are not alone and it won’t always feel so tough.
Enjoy the journey.
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