Updated: Jul 10, 2022
I’m seriously phoning it in today friends! It’s Monday and I need to get my blog post out that I should have done this weekend so I’m going to give you my two cents on burnout, because I feel it… so hard!
So what is burnout? Well… the textbook definition is ‘physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.’ Learning to recognize the symptoms is likely the hardest part, and allowing yourself the grace to deal with it the second. So what does burnout look like? I’m sure you can probably guess, but I’ll tell you what it looks like for me.
I think as a woman, a mother and an employee of an incredibly busy business, I tend to overcommit. In fact, overcommitment should probably be my middle name. Probably one of my most used phrases is ‘sure, I can do that,’ or some iteration of that phrase.
I have never learned how to disappoint anyone but myself and that is the easiest way to achieve ‘physical or mental collapse,’ in my opinion. I have a hard time saying no, that’s my nature as a people pleaser probably. That’s likely why it follows, one of the hardest parts for me is simply admitting I have stress or that I’m not ‘fine.’ (‘I’m fine’ by the way, probably my real most used phrase)
I had a conversation with a friend the other night where I told him if his wife said she was ‘fine’ that probably means she is not ‘fine,’ and the more ‘fines’ he got, the less ‘fine’ she probably is. It’s not rocket science and wasn’t anything he didn’t already know, but it’s a good reminder for us all. We aren’t always going to be ‘fine’ so telling ourselves we are when we aren’t isn't healthy. We should just admit it when we aren’t. I still don’t know how to do that and honestly I don’t know why. I guess it's probably because I want to be the rock of the family who never gets cracked, but I’ll tell you, the older I get, the more I realize it just isn’t possible. So try identifying your stress early on, to hopefully alleviate it before it gets unmanageable.
Admitting I’m stressed is hard for me, but I’m sure for some people that isn’t the problem. For most people, it is probably tougher to figure out what to do about that stress. It’s easy to say ‘take a break,’ or ‘get some rest.’ But for some people that’s easier said than done. Most of us are doing so many jobs all the time: working, parenting, coaching, maintaining a household, working additional jobs (because the world is ridiculously expensive), maintaining relationships/friendships, pursuing our own passions, and probably so much more. So I think it’s important to prioritize what is the most important to be able to pinpoint what you can take a break from. Obviously, for a lot of us the answer is ‘nothing can go.’ Gotta keep all those balls in the air, right?
Well, I’m here to say, sometimes things we feel can’t be skipped actually can. Obviously, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck like the majority of society, work can’t go, and a lot of us can't even afford to take a day off (unless someone is actually sick). Another non- negotiable, if you’re a parent, is you can’t skip taking care of your kids—but by that I mean maintaining their life (food, water, shelter). It doesn’t mean everything they want (sports, events, fun stuff). I’m not saying take everything away from your kids to make yourself better, but I am saying if you need to skip little league one week so you can sit at home and watch tv or read a book instead, do it! If you want to skip doing dishes for a night, do it! I encourage eating out if you don't want to cook. I always have stuff on my floor, so if you don't want to see my clutter, don't look! I'm spending that energy elsewhere. Also, I try to avoid committing to extra things like coaching or being in the PTA, because I know I have to work ten or twelve hours a day and be ‘mom.’ It's so hard to say no, but trust me, we all need to do it sometimes.
Also, sometimes choosing to maintain your relationships, while it feels like work when you’re stressed, if done at the right time, can actually be a way to help prevent burnout. Don’t forget to take time out and go to dinner or a movie with your spouse, have a drink with a friend, do whatever makes your heart feel happy. Also, passions should be fun. If it isn’t, maybe you aren’t doing it right, or maybe you need to take a step back. I sometimes feel stressed about my writing, not the actual writing part, but the other parts (social media, querying, etc) so I try to remember to take breaks. A friend of mine reminded me this weekend, 1% improvement is still an improvement. Count the small wins, because they still are wins.
Another thing to remember--while it may feel selfish—learn to prioritize your own well being too. In the end, it’s kind to be the best you you can be for the people who love you and need you. You won’t be that if you allow yourself to get burned out, so try to take breaks, take a breath and be yourself, not just mom, spouse or employee.
Don’t forget to give yourself the grace to be human. We aren’t superheroes. Do what you can and learn to tell yourself that's enough. Don’t compare yourself to others, because comparison will get you nowhere. Social media makes most people look like they have better lives than they do, so don't compare your life to someone else.
You are enough. Do your best and let it be enough.
Basically, avoiding burnout all boils down to your ability to recognize the necessity to say you aren't ok or need help. Then have the grace to accept that that's perfectly ok and natural.
So that's it, that's my two cents on burnout! It's ok to not be ok, you are enough, and give yourself grace. They're cliches for a reason folks, let them sink in!
Have a great week!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
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