When you’re burned out

Sometimes the very thing you need appears, like the article I read this weekend by Brene Brown about living your values. A memorable quote from it was “If you don’t want to burn out, stop living like you’re on fire.” I know how easy it is to get busy beyond overload, believing I’m not doing enough, fast enough. What’s enough, anyway?

I’m a manic multitasker and feel that if I’m not always doing something then I’m not productive or am wasting opportunities. I identified with Brown’s warning that keeping a frenetic pace can start shaping how you define yourself and your worth. This vulnerable feeling keeps many of us on that treadmill, however unhappy.

A major life event just forced me to pause, go offline and recalibrate to someone else’s schedule. I reckon only “duty” could have brought me to such a sudden stop; but it was weirdly freeing to have to just sit still for several hours with absolutely nothing I could do. I don’t remember the last time a day went so slowly, without pressure despite being under duress – I think it was the removal of urgency that felt so strange. Now my focus on the to-do list feels broken, utterly.

We know changed thinking can change behaviour, and Brown says accepting that what I produce and contribute is not my real “value” is the key issue. It flies in the face of years of study and work to really grasp that what I do is not who I am. Yet this week my value was entirely in being there and not about achieving a single thing.

Brown’s tip: She says three things can help avoid burnout reigniting – recognise how overwhelm feels (exhaustion, resentment and dread are common); set boundaries whenever you feel obligated to do things; and create a clearing space or activity that centres you to refocus on just being. Doing nothing may be all it takes. Check out more from her online: www.brenebrown.com