Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Dealing with burnout: how to carve up that elephant.

Dealing with burnoutOver these past weeks, we have been exploring burnout, it’s symptoms and causes, and – importantly – some musings on what we can learn about dealing with burnout. So, how can be crystallise our thoughts and take the first small action steps? Rather than be overwhelmed by the task of emerging from brain fog and regaining a calmer perspective on our lives, how can we carve up the elephant of burnout and see how to make small, gradual changes?

As we progress through this 21st century age, we invent new and faster communication methods to improve our lives and narrow our world. We feel the pressure to be “on” and available all the time. To be all things to all people. To do more, try harder, go further, be better – pick an advertising slogan of your choice. But the impact of this is that eventually, our bodies and minds rebel.

Burnout can leave us feeling tired, depressed, physically and emotionally exhausted, trapped, worthless, weary, disillusioned, hopeless, anxious, rejected, and susceptible to illness.

But this is not how we are designed to function.

We are inventive, creative, relational people with an amazing capacity to learn, grow, cherish and enjoy the world around us. We are made for so much more than merely functioning, going through the motions, living for the next bit when it might get easier. But it seems that life, and our choices in response to it, take over and can leave us burned out, to varying degrees.

When our bodies start to rebel, it is time to stop, do a little soul work, and pay attention. We require rest and restoration to allow us to function at our best – regular investment in ourselves allows us to fulfil our many roles and purpose better. This does not mean we become self absorbed islands, only living to serve ourselves. The converse is true – identifying with something bigger than ourselves, be it a cause, a faith, a project, brings fulfilment and allows us to serve within our purpose.

So, what have we learned about dealing with burnout?

Firstly, recognise that the day is never coming when you are going to be less busy, and you have power to change the choices you make now.

Of course we have jobs, responsibilities, family commitments, social engagements, and health needs to manage on a daily basis. But we also have choice, and this starts with understanding ourselves, how we work, and what is most important to us. Much of what we can choose to do is reconnect.

Reconnect with the outdoors –

  • get outside into the great world yonder, with all it’s beauty and creativity. We are part of a wider world, we are not islands, and embracing the beauty and simplicity of our natural environment is a tonic to expand and refresh soul and mind. Be it a short walk in the park or a long trek up a hill or along a beach, reconnect with space, scenery, fresh air and freedom.

Reconnect with your body –

  • burnout manifests in many physical ways, including muscle tension and pain, poor sleep, headaches, fatigue, poor posture. Pay attention to what your body is telling you – if it is not functioning well as the tool you need it to be to enable you to be who you are, then action is required to restore and revitalise that body. Simple things like changing position at your desk, stretching and deep breathing, getting up and walking around, an outside walk for 10 minutes, and bigger impact things like more and regular exercise all help.

Reconnect with your own natural rhythms –

  • Take regular, short breaks. Start to recognise the signs of when your output is exceeding your input, and stop, change completely what you are doing, reconnect with what you are seeking to do and why – your goals and motivation. Learn to understand yourself and your own rhythms, what times of day you are at your best, and when you need to stop and change task.

Reconnect with what matters most and disconnect from technology –

  • Limit use of social media, avoid the temptation to constantly check emails, switch off screens and get outside. Recognise that you choose to have power over technology and use it to your advantage not have it control you.

Reconnect with your support system –

  • recognise the dangers of emotional weariness – have a support system of friends to lean on, and don’t be afraid to let people in and share the load. Prioritise and plan in time with life affirming and life giving people. Re-establish actual physical contact, not merely electronic contact. Tell your friends you appreciate them, and be available to them when you are part of their support system.

Reconnect with the positive –

  • Recognise when you are spiralling into negativity – cynicism, criticism, self pity or self loathing. Pay attention to the emotions under the surface and do a little soul-work: let go, forgive, take or relinquish responsibility, stop taking yourself so seriously. Whatever is required. And choose to see the positive, to practice being thankful, to rest and refresh your mind and soul with activities that don’t numb you to what is going on.

Reconnect with a realistic degree of efficiency and organisation for you –

  • Take small chunks of time to get organised, be it at work or home, with clear goals as to why this is important and the difference it is going to make. Learn what works for you, and create systems that you are happy with and can maintain.

Dealing with burnout can only be addressed successfully once the roots are identified.

Sometimes, we can do well to stop, take stock of what we are doing, reassess what is most important to us, and recognise that we are neither indispensable nor required to be “on” all the time. You are a unique, precious and purpose-full individual, and life is here to be lived abundantly. We only get one shot at it.






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