Dealing with burnout

Everything is harder at the moment. Everything takes longer and requires more effort and almost everyone I know is struggling with concentration, with energy levels and with feeling overwhelmed. These are all ingredients for burnout. Things that would not normally put a person on their knees might do so in the current crisis. People who are not used to experiencing burnout may find it happening to them.

Having a long history of routinely burning myself out, this is something I’ve learned the hard way how to deal with, so I thought I’d share some insights.

Firstly, what not to do. Toughing it out. Stoicism. Fake it until you make it. Trying harder. Leaning in. Pushing through it. What these kinds of approaches do, is drive you deeper into burnout. If you are spinning out of control and heading into crisis, pushing through will not save you. Equally, if you’ve got through something by pushing, it wasn’t burnout, it was a bad day and there is a lot of difference.

It can be tempting to hide it and pull away from other people. Much depends on what works for you. If peace, silence, solitude and rest are the best things to heal you, then dealing with it privately may be your best bet. If you need holding, witnessing, cheerleading and supporting then you need to talk to your closest people about what’s going on, and ask for their help and support on whatever terms make sense.

One way or another, you need to recharge. Sometimes this is literally about rest and sleep. Sometimes it means needing to move your body more, or take better care around food. You may need to recharge your mind and dig in with nurturing things. If you don’t have go-to nurturing things for bad days, it is now urgently important to find out what will sustain you.

It can be tempting to escape into something mind numbing. If your primary need is for rest, this will help you. If your primary need is for nourishment, this can make things far worse. It may not be obvious, if you are new to this, what you need most.

Burnout, for me, has always been to some degree impacted on by my relationships with people. A habit of giving more than I can afford, of not saying when I’m in trouble, and of not asking for help. I have a lot of issues around expecting my relationships to be utilitarian. But, this time, I didn’t do that. I asked the people who are closest to me to look after me, and they did, they piled in without hesitation. On Thursday morning I started crying in what, for me, is classic burnout style. In the past, I’ve got into those and random crying and overwhelm can go on for days, weeks thereafter. The people I asked for help pulled me out of the nose dive. I was not instantly ok, but the space appeared to start looking after myself and to get back on top of things.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “Dealing with burnout

  • Sheila Murrey

    I hear you about everything feeling harder when you’re burned out emotionally and / or exhausted physically. I have so many emotional and psychological tools at the ready to help, but I still use rest as one of my “go to” aids. Rest, meditation, and then a shower and food are comforting too. Alone time. And quiet. Ah! ❤️🦋🌀

  • anaelleamaya

    Hi, Nimue 🐞 I have gone through burnout a few times in my life. I also have that bad habit of giving more I can afford. I burn my candle from both ends. I usually just try to ‘work’ (study) more. And sometimes it helps over. Sometimes not. I think my best stress -medicine is my cat 🐈 ❤️, sleep, and talking to people I trust. Yes, some alone time also 👍 Sending you healing thoughts and thinking of you, you know my e-mail, if you want to talk ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

  • lornasmithers

    This is something I’ve been working through too. I’ve only recently realised my burnout results from putting too many social/communal l demands on myself because I’m insecure about my creative work being of value in itself. I’m trying to put that aside now, focus on my gift – my awen – it solitude. It’s helping.

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