From Burnout to Resilient
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.”
― J.K. Rowling
Last week you celebrated my birthday with me through discussing one of my most favorite Mark Twain quotes about the two most important days of our lives. The first being our birthday and the second being when we discover our “why”. Sometimes in finding our “why” we find ourselves at rock bottom, wondering how we got there and how the heck we are going to make changes. In my experience, rock bottom is a very elusive space that seems far away that ‘only happens to others’ until we find ourselves sitting there. In the muck. Alone, feeling like a fraud but yet functioning as we always do. We are clinical rockstars after all….
I spent last Monday floating in a large body of water – which was my entire goal for the day. It was relaxing, surreal (in a good way!) and a well needed break from reality. In a cove that we spent a few hours in was the tree that is pictured at the top of this blog.
A flourishing green tree. In the desert. Surrounded by rocks.
I was amazed. Like I couldn’t stop talking about how amazed I was that the tree existed, in the condition it existed, in the space that it existed. I am sure my friends were over me talking about the tree by the end of the day!
The tree struck me in such a powerful way since it was this beautiful depiction of being able to thrive despite being surrounded by rocks, desert, and heat that could result in you being crispy. But instead the tree grows DESPITE the circumstances instead of giving up due to the circumstances.
Crazy analogy from my incredible floating adventure, but sometimes it is the simplest of images that have the greatest of impacts.
So what does your rocky, desert terrain look like around you? What is thriving around you? And what has given up to the elements of burnout never to find out if there are roots to be planted?
After last week’s blog posted, I read an interesting article that identified two levels of being crispy: Burnout and Habitual Burnout. What is the difference? One is a temporary stopping point while the other (habitual burnout) becomes a space that is your new normal. You have lost hope, cannot see a different ending, really have no energy to dream of a different life.
Habitual Burnout is unable to see the beauty of a thriving tree surrounded by rocks.
As the rockstar clinician you are, you realize that you have been living surrounded by desolate rocks and know that you hit all the criteria for any form of burnout one can identify. So now what?
Now we start to heal so you can dream again about the life in which you thrive.
Years ago, someone told me I should take a year off of work in order to find a balance and baseline for some medical issues. Want to take a guess at my response to that statement? I will save you from the exact thoughts that went through my head, but, in the end I never went back to that medical specialist again. Stubborn? Absolutely! That is something that I will never deny and promise to work on daily (ok, maybe weekly is more accurate…)
But taking a year off of work was unreasonable, unethical, and truly not needed. In my stubborn, non medical opinion of course. However, taking a few weeks to drastically decrease working hours or even a one week staycation can have a huge impact on levels of stress, burnout and feelings of being overwhelmed. Will it solve everything? Heck no. However, taking some time to step away can give you the clarity that you need to be able to assess what changes need to be made moving forward so you can be resilient instead of living in a state of habitual burnout.
Dr. Kristen Neff has some excellent information on Self Compassion and I challenge you to take her quiz on your level of self compassion here: https://self-compassion.org/test-how-self-compassionate-you-are/ It will be a great baseline for you as you begin your work of healing, practice what you preach to your clients and finding that balance you have been seeking.
Your score may shock you. My first one shocked me. But rock bottom isn’t rocky because it is a place we want to hang out at! The truth may hurt, but it is important to know where you are starting so you can embrace your success when it improves.
Once you have your baseline identified, can identify the root cause of your burnout – then we rebuild.
Therapy for Therapists™ is a systematic way to rebuild from burnout to get back to being the rockstar clinician that you are. It will take you back to the core of who you are beginning with rediscovering your Core Values, utilizing your personality style to work for you instead of against you and finding a way to thrive while still doing what you love most. Helping clients.
According to MyWellbeing.com, recovering from burnout includes the following steps:
1. “If you can take something off of your plate, do so, but make sure it’s in a way that won’t add more stress to your life.
For example, if you usually book your partner’s travel arrangements because they often wait until the last minute, don’t just stop doing that and then cause more stress in your own life by not being able to get where you both need to go for the holidays. Instead, in this example, enlist your partner to take on some responsibility here so you can focus on higher priority items.
2. Don’t take on any new obligations that you don’t have to.
If you can say no to something, even if you feel guilty or obligated, practice doing so. Delegate even if you think the people you’re delegating to may not do them as quickly or as well as you would.
3. Limit your time on devices.
Turn off unnecessary notifications and disconnect from stressful stimuli when you can. It may sound counterintuitive when the to-do list can feel endless, but when you are burned out, you’re not doing high-quality work.
4. Ask for help, whether it’s from your personal support group, a network of peers, or a professional.
There are no extra gold stars for doing it alone.
5. Take care of your health.
Burnout can run you down and weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to sickness. Eat vegetables, sleep enough, and drink water. We often forget the simple things when we are overwhelmed.”
Burnout will impact us all unless we intentionally develop a plan to avoid hitting your rock bottom. Self care is the way to do that and we will discuss that in greater detail in a future blog.
But for now, it is time to call a spade a spade, assess where you are at and swallow any pride that has been a barrier.
We are in this together and together we will empower each other to work through the level of crispiness to return to rockstar status. All without taking an entire year off. Unless you recently won the lottery and want to. In that case I wholeheartedly support you!
You can always SUBSCRIBE by clicking the word and you will be emailed each week as new content is posted so you will not lose your momentum changing you from the inside out as we continue our discussion next Monday.
As I have stated previously, being known for who you uniquely are at the core is a freeing experience. One that will take bravery and vulnerability, but one that can be achieved.
Always remember to take care of you. You are worth it!