Tag Archives: What I Learned

Day of Rest: Burnout Recovery

The door to nowhere…

I’m categorizing this post as a “Day of Rest” because that’s usually what I post, if I post, on a Sunday. To be fair, it could also be a Life Rehab Resources, or What I Learned, or What I’m Doing. I’m realizing that after nine months of taking care of myself and trying to be patient, that if I was 100% burnt out nine months ago, I’m still about 87% burnt out now, and I should maybe be taking a more direct approach (instead of trying to “wait it out”), which for me typically starts with some deep research and contemplation.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram asking for books that had helped people through recovery from burnout, even if it wasn’t specifically about burnout. Some of the suggestions were:

One person on Facebook asked for clarification about the cause of my burnout, as that might help her make a more effective recommendation. As I told her, and I think have said here before, “the reasons are compound: just retired after 19 years in a stressful job, on year 11 of perimenopause, an autoimmune disorder, complex-PTSD, etc. So pretty much pick a reason and I’ve probably got it.” That makes deciding on a direct approach for recovery so much more complicated.

What’s been working for me so far, in terms of practices and support: Therapy, quitting my job, reading, watching lots of TV and taking lots of naps, eating what I want when I want it as much as I want, aqua aerobics, yoga, meditation, massage, having honest conversations with those close to me, asking for what I need, walking and napping and cuddling with my dogs, my infrared heating pad, our new living room furniture, flowers in the bathroom, cleaning out my office, getting more plants, limiting the amount of time I spend “peopling,” listening to music and podcasts, comedy, sitting in the sauna, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs are asleep, really good healthcare for my dogs (the better care they get, the less stressed I feel), writing, turning down the volume on bad news, cute animal and baby and dance videos, art, CBD oil, a small dose of THC before bed to help me sleep, the softest pjs in the world, my moon lamp, my HappyLight, and a sunrise alarm clock.

Another thing I have to do is cultivate patience and a willingness (which is currently reluctant) to accept that this could be permanent. I may never have more energy than I have right now and I need to figure out how to be okay with that.

All that said, I have a favor to ask you, kind and gentle reader: if you have recovered from burnout, what worked for you? What did you try, read, watch, do to feel better? If you don’t mind, could you post a comment or send me an email (lifewholehearted@gmail.com) and let me know? One request: as I am in recovery for not one but three eating disorders, even if a diet or nutritional supplement worked for you, could you leave that part out? I have to be super careful about how I handle anything having to do with nourishing myself through food or supplements, so not referencing anything related to that would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. You are the best!

What I’m Learning/Doing: I’m (Re)Tired

Craving green and quiet…

This weekend I felt the itch to blog, to share something with you here, kind and gentle reader. I was working on my Something Good post for Monday, reading a post Austin Kleon had made about this being a Leap Year and February having 29 days, suggesting a 29-day challenge. I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ve been writing a lot but not sharing on my blog, maybe I should do this challenge even though I’m starting a day late.” After I finished working on my other post, I created another, a Day of Rest one. As I stared at the blank screen thinking about how to start, I felt dizzy, had to grab the sides of my desk to steady myself. In that moment I realized I needed to rest, not write about it.

Before I go any further, I need to be clear about my privilege. It allowed me to retire, it allows me to do the things I need to do right now to heal, it allows me to take a step back and reevaluate and take things slow, it allows me choices. I am fully aware as I write about the ways in which I am struggling, I also have access to so much support, a safety net that others just don’t.

When I quit my CSU job, I had a very clear plan of what I wanted to do next. I’ve spent the past 10+ years making a plan and creating a foundation. I left room for the specific details to shift if necessary, but I had a very clear idea, a specific mission. I knew I’d need a bit of time to regroup and recover once I actually stopped working at CSU, but I thought I’d take the summer off like usual and start in the fall. That isn’t what happened at all.

I had no idea until I stopped how truly burnt out I was. And even when I identified it as “burnout” I didn’t realize how deep it ran, how serious it was, or how long it was going to take to heal. I had absolutely nothing on reserve, no resilience. I was like a dried out, overstretched rubber band about to snap. I was numb and tired, and when I wasn’t I was filled with rage and grief. To say I’d “hit a wall” was a super accurate description of how I felt, hit it at 100 miles an hour after getting run over by a truck.

In the simplest terms, my plan was to teach and write. And yet, the kind of teaching I do requires holding space for people working on big stuff, which requires me to be my most stable, sane version of myself. As an introverted hsp, on a regular day when I’m at my strongest and most flexible, it takes a lot of energy (and then recovery) to do so, and right now, I just don’t have it to spare. My writing, particularly anything I write about my lived experience, requires that I revisit and re-experience some painful, hard things, and that also requires stability, sanity, and energy.

I experience fatigue, anxiety, and depression from various sources; perimenopause, burnout, S.A.D., complex-ptsd, Hashimoto’s, and being hsp, (add to this list things happening with people I love and in the larger world that provide real and direct reasons to be anxious, sad, and tired); and on most days, I’m not at capacity to teach or write certain things. My efforts focus instead on coping and healing — rest, therapy, self-care, etc. — honoring where I’m at and what I need. I am teaching one regular weekly yoga class with a small group of regulars, writing and reading a lot, and on some days I am able to cross something off my larger to-do list that moves me one tiny step closer to showing up more directly.

That being said, thank you for still being here. Thank you for continuing to share this space with me, for showing up and offering your support. Thank you for not giving up, for doing the healing you need to do, for honoring what you need and want, for helping when you can, for continuing to try. Your presence and efforts encourage me, and I’m so grateful.