I bet you always think of burnout as doing way too much, being spread too thin, feeling exhausted, depleted – all revolving around doing too much.
But maybe you’ve been thinking about it all wrong…
What if instead of burnout being only about doing way too much, it’s also about not doing enough? It’s about not doing enough of the things that really align with you, light you up, and fill your cup.
When you think about burnout the common way – doing way too much, being overloaded – there’s two problems that come up:
First, you get into the comparison game. Who am I to feel burned out when other people are working harder or more hours? How’s it possible if I’m sleeping fine, my job is easier, or that person has so many more challenges on her plate? I shouldn’t be burned out when I don’t have all these life stressors that other people have. So you get stuck in that never-ending comparison game (and it’s not a fun one to play). The truth is no matter what someone else is going through doesn’t depict how you should feel about what you’re dealing with.
Second, you feel like you can’t change it. Often times the things you feel are burning you out are the day-to-day responsibilities that you really may not be able to change, at least not right away. It’s the extra work hours, the long commute, the constant household stimulation from raising kids, the fact you can’t just not cook for a week or stop paying bills. It’s these things that feel like non-negotiables. They feel out of your control and you feel powerless because it’s like, well this is just life and it’s a lot and I can’t change it, so that sucks, but it is what it is. And yet again you feel stuck.
When you think about burnout in the new way – that you’re not doing enough of the things that are soul-giving, things that fill you up, things that nurture and nourish you – it opens the door to say…ok what can I change, do differently, or add into my day, that will align with my needs and fill my cup? It puts the power back in your hands.
Now I know your first thought is yeah no thanks! I’m already feeling like my plate is way too full so why would I want to add anything more to it?! I get it. It sounds scary and probably impossible. But I’m not talking about anything drastic – it can be 5 minutes here and there, or it can be while you’re doing one of the tasks you’re already doing.
An example: for me, getting up before my toddler is very important to me. I like to have the beginning of the day, even if it’s only 10 minutes, to myself, so I’m not being woken right up and then thrown into the day, on the go, and feeling like I’m at everyone’s disposal the second my eyes open. Sometimes that’s how I feel if I don’t give myself those minutes of whatever-the-f-I-wanna-do-in-peace before everyone else is up.
Or, say you really want to get into yoga, but it’s not doable to take the time to drive to a studio, pay for classes, etc. There are so many free Instagram and YouTube videos at your fingertips. Watch one and do your yoga even for 5 minutes a day, because those 5 minutes are for you. Uninterrupted (you’ve gotta figure out what/when works for you and your family) you time, doing something that’s important to you, that will energize you and pour back into you.
The other way you can do more things that align with you, even when you feel you have no time, is this…I’ve heard the idea multiple places now and I don’t know who originally coined it, but the idea that: things don’t have to be easy but you can do them with more ease. I looove this.
Everybody has tasks and responsibilities they don’t necessarily want to do or enjoy doing, but it’s just kinda one of those things. For me, I don’t like scrubbing pots and pans and doing dishes (and somehow we make a ridiculous amount of dishes for such a small family). But anyway, if I listen to a podcast while I’m doing them, it makes it go by quicker, I’m getting something out of that time too, it’s a quiet time for me to fill my brain with something other than talking with a toddler all day, it’s mental stimulation that I need, and it fills me up. Or, mopping – not my fave. So if I’m doing the tedious long task of cleaning the floors, I put on music, make it a little solo dance party, I feel like I’m getting some exercise which nourishes me and makes me happy, and I’m not adding in any extra work.
Sometimes adding in more, when that “more” is something that aligns with you and your needs, and is something you want to do and that nourishes you – it almost negates the extra time you put in. It evens out and balances out the other, not so fun, but non-negotiable life responsibilities that are making you feel drained. It’s simply incorporating little things into your day, but those little things end up feeling like big things as they accumulate and you realize how much they’re lighting you up and adding goodness into your days.