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Burnout is real. And it sucks.

What does burnout feel like? Exhausted, frazzled, and running on empty. Too overwhelmed by mounting pressure to function. Paralyzed. Utterly depleted. Broken. Stress, over time, can become chronic and lead to burnout. Getting out of the depths of burnout can feel almost impossible – and insurmountable feat. Even for those in or nearing crisis mode, things can get better!

Take a break

Sometimes it takes a full break, even if only a short one, to begin the process of healing. Realize that when one is stressed, from the standpoint of your central nervous system, you are out of your “Window of Tolerance.”  This means your body is going into “Sympathetic Nervous System overdrive” or hyperarousal, which leads to the production of cortisol, the stress chemical, and this keeps the process going, and exacerbates it.   

To break out of this you must DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT on a physical level, with your body. Shift Tracks. Move.  Recovery breathing, meditation, etc.  You do not get out of stress by “EFFORTING MORE.” Find a way to hit pause and regroup. Skip the extracurricular “to do” list, take a weekend getaway, or a weekend hideaway. Cry, watch movies, go out with friends, hit the gym, play in nature. Do whatever relieves stress for you and can get your head out of the spin. Most of the time it means shifting gears and mindset. Approaching things smarter, not with more effort.

Get things off your plate (set boundaries) (get organized)

Look at your schedule and list of responsibilities. Spend a little time getting things organized so that you have a clear picture of everything. Make a plan and stick to it (link to SMART Goals blog). Start thinking of which items aren’t necessary and ways that you can get them off your list. Say “no” to anything you can and really analyze things you feel pressure to do– upon reflection you may discover that you really can let go of them.

Start integrating self care into life

Take small steps to take care of yourself. Start integrating your “break” activities into your schedule. YOU REALLY MAY HAVE TO PUT IT ON THE DAILY CALENDAR. Even if you can only get in five minutes some days, do it. This may mean getting back to the fundamentals of eating meals and sleeping. Or it may mean taking a walk at lunch. Doing happy hour with the gang sometimes. Soaking in an aromatherapy bath. Allowing, or even devoting, some time to be unproductive. At first, even these “fun” things may feel like chores, but over time they will shift to being essential to maintaining balance.

Get help

People often need the counsel and accountability of a trusted advisor to help get them started on their new routine and out of the burn out rut. For many, this needs to be someone outside of the circle of friends and family who can be a “neutral” voice. Counselors, spiritual advisors, and life coaches can all help. If hiring someone is not an option, there are many great self-help resources in the way of books and videos. Get out of your own head and away from your people’s agendas to start looking at things with a fresh perspective.

How massage can help

Massage can be a break and self care together. And deciding to make that call can be the very important first step. It can be the decisive shift of gears that you need to move away from a stressed state. Massage helps reduce stress and anxiety, create peace and feelings of positivity. Many people in the throes of burnout find moderate to firm pressure grounding techniques helpful. Deep breathing during the massage and focusing on how the work feels in the muscles can be very meditative. Energy work may also be an excellent choice for those undergoing a process of letting go of things that no longer serve and creating space for the new.  Just being in a quiet space free from distraction can go a long way towards renewing.

Although the process of coming back from burnout can take time and commitment, it can be done. There are so many good and healthy ways to accomplish this. Pick a couple of your favorites and get smiling again.

We would love to hear from you about some of your favorite stress busting or self-care activities. Please share!


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