The telltale signs of burn-out are:
1. You can’t do more than one thing at a time. If you try to do more than one thing at a time you start to freak out and get anxiety.
2. You are excited as hell to crawl into bed at night and it hurts to wake up to an alarm.
3. If you have a busy day ahead of you may feel the need to self-medicate in some way or cry a lot in the bathroom to get through the day.
4. You have no ability for anything extra; like calling best friends back or going out for dinner or folding laundry.
5. You are a rabbit and you want to hide deep in your hole. You want to watch TV, you want to snuggle up, you want to get fat and slow and sleepy.
6. You may feel frustrated that you can’t do what you normally do or keep up the pace you normally keep. You are used to being active and driven and successful so this change of rhythm really is hard on the self-esteem.
7. You may find yourself angry and mean to the people you love a lot.
8. Are you lying face down on the couch staring at the centre of the room with nothing on your mind? You may long to stay there forever.
8. You may notice you are cold all the time. You may notice that your genitals close over and dry up. You may notice you don’t care what you look like. This is the stage where burn out moves into depression.
9. You do not have the energy for the healthy things you normally do to make yourself feel better. Yoga- nope. Meditating- uck. Being kind to yourself- fuck off! You want quick fixes like smokes, drinks and drugs to obliterate the anxiety and smash the self-hatred.
10. Are you shocked how rocked you feel? Something may have happened to tip you over the edge into full on burn-out. A trauma, an illness, a huge disappointment in your life. So this is now triple burn-out/ grief / healing time.
After you are diagnosed (this does not need to be by a doctor. If you have been working really hard for a long period of time with no space for rest in your life you are probably mightily burnt out) a strange pressure lifts. A feeling of euphoria or calmness sets in because now you have permission to lay down. It’s like oh, I’m not crazy, I’m not lazy. I have simply depleted all the iron, chi, yin, yang, prana, calories, kundalini life force in my entire body. I am totally dry to the bone and I get to fall down now. It is an incredibly relieving feeling.
Your to-do list now:
You can tell people you are burnt out. It feels good to get the sympathy.
You may want to have a blood test done to see if you are anemic as well because chances are you are.
Try going through your calendar cutting out absolutely everything that is not about directly paying the bills or keeping your kids and pets alive. Slash and burn. Be ruthless. Call people and tell them “sorry, but I’m hella burnt-out and need to re-book the lunch date in 3 months”. This is called radical self-care. Oprah coined the term so it’s legit. You don’t get to use this card much in life so go nuts with it.
*WARNING After a few days of reveling in your illness you may notice an increase in energy. Don’t be fooled. Stay simple. Lay down a lot even if you are not tired. Brush your sheepskin. Put your hands on your belly and breathe. Act like an old lady. DO NOT get sucked into filling up the time like oh, now I can learn how to use my dehydrator and make yam crackers for the year. I would also recommend quitting life at 6pm. this means no phone, no friends (unless they are the nourishing kind that come over to massage you and feed you cupcakes), no email, no Facebook, no work. Lie the fuck down.
This is a time to be really fierce about being soft. Your kidneys are depleted. Your kidneys are the organs that filter all the life-blasting energy to your other organs so when your kidney stores are down then other organs get pulled on for energy and then they get depleted and then they go to the muscles and then the muscles get depleted and then they go to the immune system and then the immune system gets depleted and then the nervous system gets depleted and then you get cancer and I’m not even joking.
Burn-out is a BIG fucking deal that needs to be treated very lovingly. It is now your full-time job to try to fill your kidneys with nourishing energy and re-stock the shelves.
Sit down. Put your hands on your kidneys and imagine a cobalt blue energy pouring into your hands and radiating into your kidneys.
Breathe into your kidneys. The breath will energize and plump your kidneys. The cobalt blue is the color of water- which is what your kidneys filter. The kidneys are the same shape and size as your ears.
They are such tiny little dudes and they have such a big job so we really gotta give ’em some serious love.
If you can eat a bit more protein, your body will enjoy it.
You can do what you want to do. Smoke drugs if it relaxes you, drink wine, chill out on the morality police and revel in healing yourself. Go to bed ridiculously early, stop having sex, CHILL OUT in every way and be as lazy as possible.
I am doing this right now and it feels damn fine. It was really hard to get here as I was busy with commitments and bullshit I had to finish up. There was lots of crying and begging and praying for help but now that I have a quieter schedule it is like my body is going all wise on my ass and not allowing much to happen. I don’t feel guilty about not calling friends back, I don’t feel ashamed for quitting projects. Childcare is going on credit. I have not left the house and tomorrow is looking about the same. My kids play on top of me in bed, I napped twice yesterday.
It feels like a cultural rebellion, this demanded rest. I gotta go fetal. I gotta fill up my little ear beans with the color blue.
All that misery and pain was my body yelling PLEASE I’m not a farm animal and you don’t own me! PLEASE for the love of life this is not a heavy horse pull so stop whipping the shit out of my ass!
It’s such a relief.