Burnout is not reserved for the rich or the famous or the profoundly successful. It’s happening to so many of us, people across all kinds of careers and lifestyles.Shauna Niequiest, Present over Perfect
Burnout happens more often than we realize. There are so many lessons in acknowledging that. I’m convinced burnout is like a sedimentary rock with layers compressed over time. We think it’s a moment or moments, but it deeper than that. A fine sand of saying yes, overextending yourself, forgetting to pee when you should have that is never fully resolved.
I used to think I was burnt out from lack of sleep or having so many kids (four is whew…), but now I’m learning my current recovery dates back decades before I had my first sleepless night… and that’s why it’s taking so much longer than I anticipated.
So I’m here to tell you, not on the other side of learning these lessons. In fact, consider me a fellow student who’s read a few chapters ahead, but still stuck on a several equations.
Lesson 1: It’s Complicated
Growth is slow. Healing is even slower. Read that again.
Growing and healing is a tedious process if we’re honest. Which is why it’s easy to deceive myself that burnout occurs from isolated events.
We recently started a vegetable garden and it’s taken “ages” (as my toddler would say) to finally see the fruits of our labor. Every morning as we water the budding tomatoes and bell peppers, he’ll ask me if I see anything new. Most days I don’t and truth is, our garden has been growing, we just couldn’t see it. That’s what makes it feel like forever.
The growth and healing from years of pushing, disregarding, and relentlessly exhausting oneself beyond healthy limits is complicated. It takes time to mourn missed moments that really mattered, or physically slow down to your actual capabilities… it takes time.
As I write this, I’m exhausted… I feel the weight of weeks of sick children, uncertainties beyond my control, and my body just hurts. You know the feeling where your joints can’t seem to loosen even for a moment, because you don’t know when the next thing will happen.
Inviting rest is a discipline that takes a lot of practice to enforce. More than anything Rest is a mindset we have to invite into our lives. Reshape what we entangled as “laziness” and understand that rest doesn’t have to to be earned.
But here’s the thing, rest isn’t always elaborate or beautiful. Many times it’s being sprawled out on the bed with a toddler nestled beside you “faking sleep.” Or a walk alone in the neighborhood to just clear your mind.
When you invite rest, it should be personal. Unhinge from social media for a moment and discover how you rest…then do it.
Ask for Help
There’s a reel out there along the lines of there’s someone who could do it all, her name was mommy… at the end she says she is about to cry.
It breaks my heart, because I know that life all too well. For years I embraced juggling an unhealthy amount of things in efforts to be “everything” and forgetting I am only ONE person.
Remembering that you don’t need to do it all continues to provide the grace to say “no” more often than ever. When we say yes to something, we say no to another. That’s the part we miss when “yes” is our default response.
Before you say yes, consider what you’re saying no to. In the same way if you need help, consider who you could be asking to do life with in this season. What friendship could be on the cusp of growing from your ask?
So friend, what can you scratch off your list today and say “no” to?
I daily speak this over myself, and I invite you to do the same:
Who I am is not what I do. So when it doesn’t all get done, my value and worth are still in tact. I am loved regardless.
Continue to heal, rest, and invite help along the way. This is a journey that’s worth doing well and with those who will walk, sit, and run alongside you.