So many of us experience burnout, wether it’s full blown or a low key version nowadays.
And I get it… Our culture, even more through social media, is perfect to cultivate such self-destructive mindset.
You’ve read it right. Burnout has little to do with our situation and tons to do with how we see things, like so many other mental illnesses.
No matter your situation, burnout is avoidable. But it requires change. Because burnout is your number 1 sign, your loudest red flag that your system is not sustainable as is. It yells ‘NOOOOO we can’t do this like that! It's too much!”.
It doesn’t mean we need to quit whatever we are doing, at least not always.
But we need to dig into the little details of our life, and not necessarily the parts we think.
One way to step out gently and slowly from burnout mindset, is to learn how to celebrate our small victories, especially when they matter to us but don’t get external recognition.
It doesn’t have to be big. But taking the time to acknowledge them, to write down, to stop for a sec and feel proud, no matter why, will help us not rushing from one task to another without ever feeling satisfied.
Behind burnout is often this frantic energy, that visceral need to do more and work harder. It’s not because we feel that way that it’s actually true, nor that we have to listen. The thing is, our brain is used to immediate gratification. Our modern world makes sure of this constantly. Immediate gratification in any form is at the core of addiction.
In some way, burnout is an addiction to the feeling of satisfaction and control we get when we’re done with something and the idea that at some point, somewhere along the way, if we keep worjking hard enough, perfectly enough, we will be finished, feel better and we will get to rest and chill.
The thing is though : the closer we get to burn out, the more our to-do list tends to be filled, and the more the list is about things we don’t even care about or notice that we did.
Stopping in our tracks to celebrate them and thank ourselves is a good way to both counter those tendencies and check if we really care about the things we do. Gratitude takes us a long way when it’s authentic.
We can’t live our favourite life by using most of our energy towards things we don’t care about at all or worse, despise.
I’m not saying we need to be passionate about everything we do to have a life we enjoy. Nobody does.
Maybe we don’t LOVE our job, but it is serving a bigger purpose, like helping us learn something we really care about, or at the very least keeping a roof over our heads and food into our plate. Maybe we enjoy some of our colleagues.
Asking ourselves during things we really need to do but dread, “What is the best in what is happening right now?” might help us if we are too used to negative thoughts and need a little shock to our painful pattern.
Of course, I’m not saying that we will enjoy our life even in the worst times and settings just by looking for something good. I’m talking about the little moments where life feels boring, and we check out, waiting it out. It makes it worse with time. If instead, we stay present and find some enjoyment, it’s much easier to do all those things.
That’s why I remind myself constantly when I’m cleaning the dishes or cleaning the house that at least, I’m taking care of my home, which is a form of self care (no one enjoys living in a disgusting environment). I have some time to daydream if I don’t spend it dreading what I’m doing. I’m working on my creativity by being bored (TED Manoush).
And also why, in the past three weeks, I’ve been mentally tracking my most basic self care. I’ver started writing a lot, and my whole life was a bit out of shape rapidly, as often when I do something I really care about that requires a major change.
The first week, I didn’t have to go out of the house a lot (I’m working from home mostly) and my partner needed to remind me sometimes I had forgotten to eat or take a shower. I also go to bed super late and wake up late when I can. That’s big signs that I'm overdoing it.
So I pushed my brakes on everything.
I didn’t stop, I really really want to learn how to write more in my everyday life AND how to share consistently, and so far, it’s the only way I have found that I’m enjoying.
But I make everything as simple, enjoyable and easy as possible.
I track my perfectionist thoughts and instead of perfect, or even “great”, aim for the “good enough”. I’ll aim for more greatness when I’m less overwhelmed and actually able to deliver.
I write shorter texts. I edit less. I cut myself in my overthinking.
No one is that great when overwhelmed, we half-ass the things we love when we feel depleted. We forget to play, to be really there and to enjoy ourselves, and no matter what we are making or producing, it shows.
That’s right. In order to do really good work, we need to enjoy ourselves. Another reason why self-care is not selfish, especially if you’re working with other people counting on you…
And on the second week, it got already much better. Showering and eating are back on tracks (everyday and self monitored). Self-care is way better (75% of days, and with a few days not in a shorter version, instead of the 50% of the first week with only one full self care). Sleep can really be improved, but slightly better, even going to sleep 30mn earlier is a mini victory. I could even paint 3 times this week, read a bit for myself, and get back to a course I care about for one 30mn session.
I hope to continue on those tracks for week 3 of my writing life implementation.
Oh... And of course, I enjoy it more and more, which is by far the best part of all that hard work <3
How can you enjoy yourself more, even if you don’t change what you do, my dear hummingbird?
With badass love,