That Cave they call Burnout
As Christiana Aguilera sang in her powerfully haunting rock ballard, “Fighter”,
“Cause if it wasn’t for all your torture. I wouldn't know how to be this way and never back down.
So I wanna say thank you.
Makes me that much stronger. Makes me work a little bit harder. It makes me that much wiser.
So thanks for Making ME a FIGHTER.”
So where to begin with this one. Someone asked me to write about my experience of Burnout. My experience of Burnout was surprising for me as I thought at the time I was doing the start-up of my life! It was innovative, creative, fun and exciting. I was having a great time. I was really invested in my start-up, which was called DrinksBot. It was about bringing people together socially over an inclusive range of craft drinks. It was about building on the co-working culture and at the time the rising fashion for “adult soft drinks” and low alcoholic drinks. It was born out of a moment of love between me and my Husband on Valentines day. It was and still is deeply personal.
So when I crashed and the start-up crashed! I was taken by surprise. It felt like it came out of no-where. I remember being on holiday in Florida and still feeling like I had to keep up the appearance of a social media presence for my start-up. I tried to create these posts, which felt quite empty and there was zero commitment from me about them. I just didn’t want to admit to myself that it has been a bl*ody fast rollercoaster of ride with this start-up. I was so excited about it, I spent lots of money I didn't have, my relationship with Husband suffered during that period and I just withdrew into my own personal cave.
I felt like I was tired, a failure, a crazy person, a loser and any other adjective you would like to add about feeling low. Every day was a battle to keep a routine, to see that there would be light at the end of the tunnel. It was a BAD time. I am the organised one in my relationship team, I was feeling low over Christmas. It was the one year in the WHOLE of my relationship with my Husband that we did not send out Christmas Thank You cards to all of the relatives. Even when I’ve been low before, I have managed to carry on and DO the things that needed to be done. Not so for me during that time, I really withdrew from my responsibilities and was truly lost. I just could not see the wood from the trees.
So what did it take to pull me out from under? How did I move on? It was really tough! Like anyone, I have familial pressures, a spouse or significant other, friends and people that rely on me to be RESILIENT and joyful. Eventually I got to a place, where I think I was literally sick of being down and wallowing in my own self pity and FEAR! Let me tell you fear was a massive albatross around my neck when I was feeling tired and burnt out. It took a powerful hold over me and quite honestly I didn’t know how I was going to shake it.
I am into self help. So obviously I got a self help book or 2 out to help me during this time. I went to my go to book, “Feel the Fear and do it anyway”, by Susan Jeffers. I made some really small goals around how I was going to re-emerge from this crisis. At the time I thought I was going to do a career pivot and look for an employed job as a Customer Success Manager. So I started getting back to what I do for me and for others and that is to set about making plans. I made plans and set goals to help me manage my fears coming out of this period of claustrophobia and literally “being in my head”.
So here are 4 tips for getting out of the Burnout Cave.
1 Acknowledge your pain and suffering
It took me a long time to acknowledge and accept my pain. As I said, it came as a surprise. So inspect your feelings and let them out. See a professional therapist if you need help with this. Find your own personal way of feeling or expressing your pain in a way that is not harmful to you or others. Paint, draw, play music, Box, whatever!
2 Make an action plan
I am BIG on making plans and having goals. So you are feeling stuck. Make a plan to break it down into every little action you need to take. Then find an accountability buddy and let them support you to take action. Celebrate your success, when you’ve taken action, NO MATTER HOW SMALL that ACTION IS!
3 Give yourself permission to MOVEON
You are probably quite in your “head” or whatever your manifestation of Burnout presents itself to you. Give yourself permission to MOVEON and put a date in the diary for your ACTION. Know this is the day you are MOVING ON. If that day comes and you are not there. Acknowledge that. Then take some time. After that, choose a NEW DATE. We have to keep this people moving!
4 Be Kind to yourself
As I always say, you’ve got to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you’ve been through a lot. Embed weekly, daily or whatever frequency works for you, of some kind of self care activity. Most of all celebrate yourself. Come on, I DARE YOU!
Mind Mental Health UK
Mental Health Foundation England
That Cave they call Burnout