top of page

Overcoming Burnout - 4 Steps to help you navigate burnout


This was me in one of the most difficult times of my life but you wouldn't even know it

Before we can dive into what overcoming burnout looks like, we have to recognize what burnout really is. There used to be a thought that burnout was doing ‘too much of things that drain you and not enough of what brings you joy’ and while that is one way to look at it - even if something brings you joy there are still boundaries we need to place around those things to ensure we are taking the best care of ourselves.

To me, burnout is pressing as hard as you can on the gas pedal without stopping for gas. Your tank drains and drains (no matter what you’re draining it on) and you just keep pushing full stream ahead. Most of us who have experienced burnout begin to recognize some signs that we may be pushing a little too hard on the gas pedal, but others may be completely oblivious to those signs until they completely run out of gas and are stalled at the side of the road.

The latter example was me almost 3 years ago. At the time I was pursuing a career in medicine, working multiple jobs, volunteering, running a business and going to school and one night when I was teaching an MCAT prep course I started to experience symptoms of a panic attack. My heart was racing, my mouth was bone dry, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and my muscles were so weak. That was the beginning of my healing journey to finding myself again. I was SO burnt out that I neglected my needs entirely. For years I was so focused on getting into medicine that it became who I was. I wasn’t Carly anymore, I was the premed student who would do ANYTHING to get into medicine. Looking back it was incredibly unhealthy and thats why now I am so passionate about burnout awareness and prevention.

Unlearning the habits of being everything for everyone and thinking I needed to be perfect all the time was KEY in helping me heal and regulate my nervous system again. Yes I did get into medical school and some may say ‘well that hard worked paid off’ and to that I now reflect that NOTHING is worth your mental health. Absolutely nothing. I spent the last 3 years in medical school unlearning these habits to such an extent that I show up imperfectly and uniquely every single day. I take care of myself above all else because yes in a year I’ll be Dr Carly, but thats only PART of who I am, not my entire being. I am worthy of rest, I am worthy of putting myself first, and I am worthy of giving myself space to feel my emotions.

Lets dive into how you can overcome burnout and learn to prevent it from happening in the first place!


ONE. IDENTIFYING WHERE YOUR ENERGY IS GOING


The first step it to identify where your energy is going, or what is creating this experience for you. Sometimes we become so enthralled in what we’re doing day to day that we don’t even recognize how burnt out and tired we are. Doing an inventory on things in your life that you do ever day (in a non judgemental way!) can help us begin to unwrap what is draining you. Now its probably going to be multiple things, not just one, but awareness is our first step.


Reflection exercise: Take a few minutes to complete this inventory and write out where you energy is going every day. This can be a rough estimate and you can split it by weekday/weekend or working/school days and days off if its easier.


TWO. WHAT UNDERLYING PATTERNS DO YOU SEE HERE?


Now we have the awareness of where our energy is going - we need to look at the underlying patterns of these actions. Its not always about WHAT we’re doing, its about WHY we are doing it. For example if you have 50 things you do every day - it may be time to reflect on the people pleasing and perfectionist tendencies you have (and I totally had too!) and if THOSE are what is draining you. As I mentioned above, its not about if these things are bringing you joy, as much as its if you’re also meeting your needs at the same time. We can love to paint but if we paint for 18 hours a day, skip meals, and get littler sleep then we may still not feel the best. This step is about exploring why you plate is so full, or why you have certain activities that are draining you so much.


THREE. EVALUATE YOUR BOUNDARIES

Our next step looks at our boundaries (if we have any!). Boundaries are the way we protect our peace and this step is really going to be dependent on your WHY from step 2 because we need to create boundaries with the activities or events in our lives that are not serving us or that are draining us. A lot of people may begin to recognize patterns around the workplace and our people pleasing tendencies to ensure we make our bosses or colleagues happy (often at the expense of ourselves). No matter if your energy is spent more in the workplace or in other aspects of life (parenting, schooling, multiple activities etc), I want you to ask yourself ‘if I saw my close friend skipping lunch, neglecting sleep, taking on too much, feeling exhausted or overall mentally struggling what would I do?’. Sometimes we will do anything for other people but will forget to offer ourselves the same support. I guarantee you all had a thought of wanting to support them and see how you could help or listening to what they were going through, yet often we don’t offer this to ourselves at all.


Reflection exercise: Take a moment to see where boundaries may be useful in your life WITHOUT thinking automatically about what others may think about them. Our boundaries are for US, not for others. We cannot control how other people respond to our boundaries and its not our responsibility to tailor our needs to other people. So take this moment now to put together areas where boundaries are needed and what those boundaries may look like.


FOUR. PRIORITIZING DIFFERENT KINDS OF REST


The final step is to prioritize the kinds of rest YOU need. Now notice how I don’t say self care here. Do I believe self care is helpful? Of course I do. BUT when we are burnt out and exhausted it can feel invalidating at times to be told to ‘just go for a walk’ or ‘sit and meditate and then you’ll feel better’ because perhaps we already do some of these things, or perhaps we have NEVER done these in our lives and the thought of starting something new is overwhelming. Thats why we’re focusing on giving ourselves permission to rest in whatever way we can. Now I want to emphasize that this is not always as easy as ‘drop everything and rest’ because I appreciate you are a busy human with responsibilities. Its about giving yourself the space to create small pockets (or larger pockets) of your day that refills YOUR cup.

I always like to start with the most essential needs. How are you going to support yourself to get enough sleep? When are you eating meals? Have you moved your body in a meaningful way? These are the foundation for me, and then I build onto that with the essential types of rest we all need which are: Emotional rest, physical rest, spiritual rest, mental rest, sensory rest, social rest and creative rest. This blog post dives into each of these in more detail for you to understand these types of rest.

Moving through the 4 steps will feel daunting at first because a lot of this will be unknown and it will be uncomfortable but believe me it WILL be worth it. I hope this helps you to begin to dive a little deeper into what overcoming burnout really means. All of these steps can be repeated early and often to ensure you are always reflecting on how to best take care of your needs.


YOUR NEEDS MATTER TOO.


If you find burnout and anxiety go hand in hand and would like to dive deeper into anxiety healing - check out my anxiety healing guide and course where I dive deeper into many of these topics and provide you a framework to heal. Use code ANXIETY20 for 20% off :)


I invite your feedback and thoughts about how we can further overcome burnout.


Sending you all so much love,

Carly

634 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page