So hi! It’s been a while. I’ve been dealing with the dreaded burn out. I thought I was just a ‘bit tired, I’ll get some sleep, no don’t worry about me’, but turns out I was more ‘I feel hollow inside and nothing seems to matter’.
Kind of ironic since my last post was about creating mental space…
Like most things, once I recognised and named it for what it was, it’s been easier to deal with. I’ve been able to start the long climb out of the burned out ashes, and while I’m no phoenix quite yet I can see a glimmer of bright feathers out of the corner of my eye.
It’s been a bit odd because I can’t point to anything deeply stressful happening in a big burst, which is what I was expecting. After thinking on it for a bit I’ve realised it’s simply the cumulative affect of several years of ongoing stress.
Me being me, I mind-mapped it all. What I was feeling, why, and (most importantly) what I was going to do about it.
I think the biggest thing is that burn out doesn’t feel like frazzled stress to me, it is a quieter, more numb, more hollow feeling.
This is what I felt rather than an active busy stress. And I dealt with it by avoidance. Escapism. Procrastination.
None of which help, by the way.
The hollowed out burned out shell doesn’t lend itself to caring much about anything. I was finding it hard to have emotional energy for anyone other than my children. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it’s that it was too hard to do anything about the care. The shell is also not conducive to creative pursuits. I signed up for NaNoWriMo thinking ‘this will motivate me!’. Cue sardonic laugh. Not so much. Which, of course, adds to the feeling of unmotivated hollowness because what even is the point?
This is not a great way to live. So having mind-mapped my problem I set out to do what I could to regain my burn.
First on my list was the word ‘No’.
I said no to things. Things that i didn’t need and were a source of stress, and things that I would have enjoyed but at this time the enjoyment wouldn’t have outweighed the stress. The word ‘No’ is super empowering. It’s an exertion of control. This is something I know helps me and that I’ve talked about before. Other ways I took back control was through making myself do small achievable tasks. I’ve sorted out the bookshelves for the History department and feel a million times better. I created a chores list for my kids and myself and made us stick to it. We feel successful and I don’t feel so much as if it’s all down to me. And my house has stayed clean and tidy for nearly two weeks straight – high five to that major achievement.
I started planning our courses and assessments for next year. This was enjoyable and I started ticking off lots of big jobs and feeling efficient. This helped counter the burned out feeling at school.
I’ve tried to be more mindful of the good things that have been happening. That said, I probably need to do an overdue Happy Jar session as too many good things have been let slide lately.
Has my plan worked yet? Like I said, I’m still feeling a little more ashes than phoenix, but I’m feeling more positive, and I’ve started the climb back. That’s a win.
And this blog is a major step out of the hollow shell, being the first thing I’ve written for a month. *Applause*
Burn out is something I think many of us face, and more of us fear. We do need to take better care of ourselves. Say no more often to the things that we can get rid of and that stress us. And yes to better, lovelier, more positive things.
Easier said than done, but I know we can do it.