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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: brunetteUK on August 02, 2019, 07:00:37 AM

Title: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 02, 2019, 07:00:37 AM
Hi everyone!

My body and my brain have put a halt to my life, I've come to realize I'm in some sort of burnout, survival or emergency mode where I'm running on very little energy.

Plus...heartbreak.

Two weeks ago the guy I'd been seeing said he wanted to put a brake on things. Next day I come to work, I cry uncontrollably, in front of my very british manager, that's so unlike me. I can't stop crying for more than a minute so I take a day off and go home.

I thought it was just heart ache, I gave myself time. But the more time passed, the more I realized it's not just heart pain, I'm in despair regarding all aspects of my life, it's just that the romance was keeping me nicely distracted. I'm in that stage where I've done everything right, followed all the social rules, so why am I so miserable?

I have been pushing and pushing myself relentlessly, for years. I just can't anymore. I am so tired.

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor for stomach pain and discomfort and it turns out I have gastritis, mostly due to stress since I eat and drink pretty reasonably.

My question is: how to gather yourself up when you've been spreading yourself thin for so long?
How do I do a paradigm shift so I stop putting so much pressure on myself?
How do I come out from burnout and have more energy than just to survive?

I'm like: yeah, I won't do things they way I was doing them. But I have zero physical and mental energy to do anything.

note: mental health is ok, I've had depression for many years and I know the signs etc plus I'm seeing a psychologist. I'm not depressed. I'm mentally depleted.

Any advice, any stories will be much appreciated.

Thanks!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Rdy2Fire on August 02, 2019, 07:19:41 AM
brunetteUK

I totally can related I was in all seriousness feeling exactly this way (even had stomach issues) years ago after a breakup and had a realization or enlightenment of "How did I get here???" I wish I had some really good advice for you as I sometimes wonder if I ever completely recovered from it. With that said, in my case, I just kept pushing forward, I actually started dating quickly but realized that wasn't going to solve much so I took a break from dating and within a year found a new job and just kept, as I said, pushing forward.

On the plus side you know the stomach issue is stress and feel mentally healthy so I'd say start making some changes, even small ones, maybe just taking a walk every day, reading a book you've wanted to or meeting up with a friend etc.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: GreenEggs on August 02, 2019, 07:40:46 AM
I think the fact that you recognize the problem is a good thing.


You need to reconnect with your inner self.  I can't tell you exactly how to do that, but consider things that comfort you down deep.  Maybe in a spiritual way, or a sentimental way.  Think about special times in your life that come to mind, things that connect you to your path in life.  Think about your early dreams & goals, things that speak your your senses, etc.  The thing that you love about life and love about yourself.  That's where I find strength when I've lost my way.




Peace,
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: CatamaranSailor on August 02, 2019, 08:11:43 AM
I don't think anyone can (or has the right) to tell YOU what YOU should do. Advice is great and there are a lot of well meaning people who post on this site, but you are the only person who really can figure out the best course of action. I know that's not what you were asking for...my point is you feel like shit and you are the only person that can change that.

That being said, I can tell you what I would do if I were in your situation.

First, recognize that there are other people who have been through tough (much tougher) situations and have come out on the other side. When I start feeling overwhelmed I think about people who suffered through the concentration camps, people who have seen loved ones taken away by ISIS, etc. It helps me put my problems into perspective. Yep...I feel bad...legitimately so...but I'm not dying of a horrible disease, my kids are healthy and happy, etc. Reframing the problem helps me "get out of my own head" so to speak and look at the issues objectively.

Next, I have some brutally honest conversations with myself. What am I doing to make the situation better or worse? Usually it's relationships or jobs that cause the most stress in a person's life....two things you have far more control over than you realize. I've been in job situations that I hated and couldn't immediately quit due to financial obligations. However, rather than just simmer in a pot of misery, I turned my disgust at the situation into focused job searches.

Relationships are a tough one. Time for some tough self talk. Do you really want to be with someone who is not "all in." Are YOU someone you'd want to hang out with? I've had to come to grips with some unpleasant truths about myself (I can be a whiny little bitch). Put an action plan together to address the things you can control.

I've also come to understand the power of chaos. Chaos at first glance is horrible and frightening. Until you realize what chaos does to your brain. Chaos focuses you like nothing else. Imagine you are suddenly picked up right now and deposited halfway around the world. No money, no friends, nothing. You suddenly find yourself in a completely foreign city where you don't speak the language. You'd be scared (of course) but I guarantee you...you wouldn't be thinking about breakups or jobs.  Your brain would kick into overdrive. You'd be 1000% alert...looking, hearing, smelling everything. Your survival instincts would kick in. You'd be on the lookout for danger while at the same time trying to figure out how to get home. You would of course figure it out. You'd make your way to your embassy, or get a local to make a call for you. The point is, all that chaos would focus you in a way that would make you feel truly alive (and terrified for sure). You'd get home glad to be alive and you'd have a story to tell for the rest of your life.

Now, I'm NOT SAYING throw your life into complete chaos....at least not to that extent. What I am saying is that sometimes you need to do something EXTERNAL to get yourself out of focusing on the INTERNAL too much.

I personally go on trips to feel good but especially when I'm feeling the way you are right now. Travel IS CHAOS just in a much more controlled fashion. Travel hits all the same buttons...foreign environment, brain on high alert, etc.

There are plenty of ways to travel for little $$$

Personally I love Workaway https://www.workaway.info/

Free room and board in exchange for help. You can go to Amsterdam and help restore 18th century sailing ships, you can go to Africa and help build schools, you can go to South America and work on a coffee plantation. There are literally thousands of opportunities.

Yeah..I know...you have a job. Time for more brutal self talk...Is it a job you love? Will they give you a sabbatical? Do you care? I traveled for a year and was worried about the resume gap. It was actually a terrific conversation starter when I started interviewing....recruiters were far more interested in what I'd done in Normandy than the last certification I'd passed.

Long post, I know.

SImply put, get out of your own head. Be honest with yourself and understand that no one...not your friends, therapist or Internet strangers can solve this for you. Put a little healthy chaos into your life (safely of course).

:}



Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mozar on August 02, 2019, 08:35:38 AM
Just know that it took years to get to this state of being burnt out. You're not going to recover in a couple of weeks. It will take a year+.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 02, 2019, 11:34:16 AM
I appreciate your messages so much! It warms my heart.

brunetteUK

I totally can related I was in all seriousness feeling exactly this way (even had stomach issues) years ago after a breakup and had a realization or enlightenment of "How did I get here???" I wish I had some really good advice for you as I sometimes wonder if I ever completely recovered from it. With that said, in my case, I just kept pushing forward, I actually started dating quickly but realized that wasn't going to solve much so I took a break from dating and within a year found a new job and just kept, as I said, pushing forward.

On the plus side you know the stomach issue is stress and feel mentally healthy so I'd say start making some changes, even small ones, maybe just taking a walk every day, reading a book you've wanted to or meeting up with a friend etc.

I feel for you! Hope your stomach issues are better and well done for not jumping back into dating. I did that a few years ago after a big breakup and only stopped...last week, your figured it out much quicker!
Right now I don't know if I need small changes or big changes, so I'm just let time pass slowly.

You need to reconnect with your inner self.  I can't tell you exactly how to do that, but consider things that comfort you down deep.  Maybe in a spiritual way, or a sentimental way.  Think about special times in your life that come to mind, things that connect you to your path in life.  Think about your early dreams & goals, things that speak your your senses, etc.  The thing that you love about life and love about yourself.  That's where I find strength when I've lost my way.

That's so true @GreenEggs , thanks. I'm moving away from the picture perfect life I told myself I should have, the way I should feel, the accomplishments I should have. Trying to get a grasp of what you just said, the inner me.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 02, 2019, 11:56:03 AM

What am I doing to make the situation better or worse? Usually it's relationships or jobs that cause the most stress in a person's life....two things you have far more control over than you realize.

Wise words @CatamaranSailor ! The thing is, it's not even the job itself or the relationships itself. I have grown a lot in both areas and manage both much better than before. It's the PRESSURE, because it's NEVER ENOUGH, must try harder, never there yet. On the work side, I've realized this week that I'm in a great, great job. It's in commercial finance, I've only dreeeeamed of making the move from accounting to commercial finance for years and here I am, in a role that is bang on what I wanted. So why was I beating myself forwards so much? Oh...I need the Finance Business Partner title and the salary increase, so then I'd need the Finance Whatever title and so on.

I'm tired of this beating up.

Relationships are a tough one. Time for some tough self talk. Do you really want to be with someone who is not "all in." Are YOU someone you'd want to hang out with? I've had to come to grips with some unpleasant truths about myself (I can be a whiny little bitch). Put an action plan together to address the things you can control.

I attach myself to people like they are my lifeboat and put them as the meaning of my life. Going to the psychologist to address that. Now I see dating won't be too successful until I manage to put me in the center of it all.

I've also come to understand the power of chaos. Chaos at first glance is horrible and frightening. Until you realize what chaos does to your brain. Chaos focuses you like nothing else. Imagine you are suddenly picked up right now and deposited halfway around the world. No money, no friends, nothing. You suddenly find yourself in a completely foreign city where you don't speak the language. You'd be scared (of course) but I guarantee you...you wouldn't be thinking about breakups or jobs.  Your brain would kick into overdrive. You'd be 1000% alert...looking, hearing, smelling everything. Your survival instincts would kick in. You'd be on the lookout for danger while at the same time trying to figure out how to get home. You would of course figure it out. You'd make your way to your embassy, or get a local to make a call for you. The point is, all that chaos would focus you in a way that would make you feel truly alive (and terrified for sure). You'd get home glad to be alive and you'd have a story to tell for the rest of your life.

You mentioned chaos and I feel I'm in chaos right now. And it's giving me the reaction you mentioned, focus. What is the only important thing right now because I can't handle all this stuff flying around me. That's how I noticed how tired I was. How what I need is sleep and rest.

SImply put, get out of your own head. Be honest with yourself and understand that no one...not your friends, therapist or Internet strangers can solve this for you. Put a little healthy chaos into your life (safely of course).

Everyone who replied mentioned this, that only I can solve this, it's in my hands. I don't know what I will do, but I certainly know I will not do again what got me here. That's just out of the question.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 02, 2019, 12:02:05 PM
Just know that it took years to get to this state of being burnt out. You're not going to recover in a couple of weeks. It will take a year+.

Thanks @mozar ! I didn't want to accept that. I was like "excuse me?! I have a timeline of 2 weeks then I'm back to full throttle, new and improved me, everyone will be so impressed how I came out much better"

So your input, plus various post by @Malkynn @omachi   , @maizeman  have been going on about how it takes time, how it takes a lot of letting go of many things.
If you ask me, this depleted energy/browned out situation is totally unnecessary, if I just stop being lazy, put my focus on getting somewhere, grind my teeth and carry on, then all will be fine.
But of course it's not like this, the messed up mental and physical state say a different story. I don't even know how to see what's making me unwell.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: LifeHappens on August 02, 2019, 12:19:54 PM
So why was I beating myself forwards so much? Oh...I need the Finance Business Partner title and the salary increase, so then I'd need the Finance Whatever title and so on.

I'm tired of this beating up.
I recognize this feeling! I used to be a lot like this. I still am a little like this, but I've gotten much more chill - or much less ambitious, depending on your perspective!

Would you be willing to experiment with mindfulness, guided meditation or yoga? Those have all been helpful modalities for me as I've re-trained my mind. I see you're working with a therapist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be useful in exploring and changes your beliefs about always needing to do more, more, more.

It's hard to change how you think. I've been working on it for 15+ years, but it's been worth it. Best wishes for your journey.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Laserjet3051 on August 02, 2019, 01:22:45 PM
One may hypothesize that an effective antidote to burnout is to slow down, lighten the load, simplify, and put less on one's plate. This is exactly what I did to address my severe burnout years ago that led to extreme mental/physical debilitation. As an overachiever/perfectionist, I reduced the # of things I put on my "list to do" from 500 down to 5, so to speak. This really did work for me, of course it was only part of a larger more comprehensive paradigm shift (that included mindfulness, exercise, etc), but life started to feel a lot better when there was much less on my plate. And this is coming from a guy with 2 young kids, a wife, in a VHCOL area with limited disposible income. According to MMM principles, I tried to insource everything (DIY), which in part exacerbated the burnout. I still insource, but instead of 30 DIY projects on my list, maybe I've got 3. Fuck the rest, it will just have to be "good enough."

Developing skills in mindfulness has also been a lifesaver. Good luck and best wishes.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: koshtra on August 02, 2019, 01:52:50 PM
this depleted energy/browned out situation is totally unnecessary

This, I think, is the heart of your difficulty. This thought is trying to kill you :-)

How about, instead: anyone who went through what I've gone through would be at the end of their rope. Anybody just trying to make it work, with so little support, for so long, would be swamped by losing what was starting to look like a deep connection.

It's all right to be a human being with human needs. It would even be all right to be a human being with greater needs than other people. You don't actually get to set your levels of needing rest and support. No one does. Some people appear to get by on less than I need. That's great, I'm happy for them, but it doesn't mean that I can do the same thing.

I think the first thing you need to do is practice shooting this thought (that this is unnecessary) down every time it appears. You need what you need. You need rest and you need support. These needs are not illegitimate. They are not made up. They will not be made to go away by pulling your socks up and sticking your chin out.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: former player on August 02, 2019, 02:56:21 PM
I remember well throwing up on the way into work out of sheer stress.  Fortunately I went to see a doctor who recognised what the problem was, and simply having the problem explained helped in dealing with it.

I may be wrong here, but it sounds to me as though everything in your life is either something you do for other people or something you do because of what other people might think if you don't do it or something similar to it.

The answer to that would be to work out what it is you want to do for yourself, ignoring what other people/society might think.  Of course, working out what it is that you want to do for yourself is not easy, particularly if you have spent years/decades doing things that other people want you to do - you are all bent into the shapes other people want to make of you and finding what your own natural shape is can take time.  Take care of yourself in the meantime, and you will get there eventually.  The problem after finding what shape you should be is finding the courage to change your life to fit that new shape, of course.  But that's for the future: first find what your new shape is going to be.

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Habilis on August 02, 2019, 03:22:27 PM
I found the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari to speak to a lot of what is missing in our lives, communities. It's meaningful connections, meaningful work, people who care about us that we help and help us in return.

The book specifically talks about depression and anxiety as symptoms of these missing connections, but burnout is just another symptom of the same root cause. I hope it helps.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/17/lost-connections-johann-hari-review (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/17/lost-connections-johann-hari-review)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Evgenia on August 02, 2019, 03:51:06 PM
I hate to write things like this, because I feel it implies FIRE is the only answer, but: The burn out is real and took me the better part of one year to fully recover from. I slept and did effectively nothing for six months straight and, after that, started to feel better.

The great thing is HOW MUCH BETTER you CAN feel. Keep believing in THAT. I had no idea. Before I left my job, I had a litany of complaints that I thought were all due to aging (at 38). Aches, all sorts of pain, skin issues, intermittent stress hives, the works. A few months away from work and presto, no more problems. It freaked me out, honestly. I had NO IDEA stress could feel THAT bad.

I don't know if you have vacation time or medical leave you can take to get some solid time away, or if your workplace supports remote work from a distant, more relaxing vacation, but those may be possibilities. As other pre-FIRE folks often advise, step back as much as you can at work, reduce responsibilities, and try to achieve a don't-give-a-shit level about work until you feel better.

As you've already noticed, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and focus on what you want things to be like going forward; the past is done and sunk cost. <3
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: omachi on August 02, 2019, 05:32:40 PM
Sorry to hear you're burned out, but step one really is recognizing it for what it is. Mistaking it for being lazy or not being good enough isn't helpful. In fact, that can just lead to more problems, especially if you've long been a high achiever. Trying to square not being able to get something started, much less done, with the long held identity of being awesome is stressful in itself. But while gritting your teeth might work this time, it only makes things worse in the long run. It's how you've landed here, now. So please, be gentle with yourself.

Or said differently, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

You're coming to terms with it. Maybe you don't fully believe you need a long period of recovery. Maybe you think you can get back to your current breakneck pace after some rest. I was guilty of such thinking at first, too. The important thing is that you see that you are indeed in a hole. The size and scope of it may surprise you later, but for now it's best to just focus on not digging the hole deeper.

If you don't know where to start with recovery, making a list of priorities is a great first step for seeing what can come out of your life. Just write down everything you've done in the last month at a rough task level, and if you can estimate the amount of time spent, even better. So if you delivered a report, that might be gathering inputs, writing a draft, asking people to proof it, thanking people for their input, making revisions, submitting the report, and fielding questions. If you helped somebody move, that might be gathering boxes, helping with organizing and scheduling, the physical moving part, getting a meal with the people you're helping, and getting some good stretching in after so you're less sore the next day.

Seeing it all in one place is a good way to realize on an emotional level how much you have going on. I know I was surprised at the extent of my list. I didn't realize quite how many different ways I was letting myself be pulled. Relate all of it to a category like work, exercise, socializing, family, and so on. If you have a category that you want to be a priority but didn't show up in your activities, note that too. Once you have your list of categories, put them in a priority order, no ties allowed. Only you can answer this question of what's important to you. And don't worry if you get it wrong, I'm still revising my priority list, and it's going to change with time anyway. For now, note how much of your time or how many of the things you're doing fall into the top couple priorities.

Not saying you have to change anything at that point, just consider how much you've taken on and how much of it truly matters to you. Whether the bulk of your time and actions are in your top categories. You may get an itch to do something about what you see. If you do, try to only drop things, not add them. If you must add, drop at least twice as much time as you'll spend on the new thing first. The goal is to free up time in your schedule for recovering by cutting unimportant stuff, not to continue burning yourself out.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Beach_Stache on August 02, 2019, 06:07:39 PM
I would say you want to surround yourself with positive people first.  Dealing with people that take a lot of energy or you have to "keep up with" can be exhausting.  Be around people who are positive and don't suck the energy out of you.  Be yourself!  Maybe you're around people that you have to keep those "social norms" around, and if you have to hold yourself back and be someone you are not then that's really difficult.  My moto is that if you don't like me, that's fine, I'm not going to change, so I probably shouldn't be around you.  I have people who I really enjoy being around and those who I don't enjoy being around I just don't be around them...  You grow apart from people, things change, friends from high school or college get into different things and it's okay to get new friends, surround yourself with new people, new interests, etc.  MMM forum is a great example, a bunch of non-normal people (super savers) who take pride and joy in being who they are even though it's against a social norm.  If I explained many of these things to my everyday friends I'm around, they might think I'm crazy.  People know I'm frugal, and some of it rubs off, but if I pushed my lifestyle on people they would probably resent me or think I'm crazy, but the people on this board are super positive with great energy that don't make you feel bad.  In fact there is even a "Share your badassity" section where people can brag about their achievements and others encourage and celebrate that, they don't hold resentment.  Those are the people you want to be around, those you don't judge you, they accept you for who you are and you can be who you are.  In your area maybe there is a rec sports league or yoga class or book club or something that you're into that you can make new friends, be around positive people, etc. 

I don't get much burnout because I somewhat enjoy my 9-5 job but also coach so I get something totally different being outside, mentoring, dealing with players and parents who enjoy the same sport as I do.  You need some different things, stuff that keeps you going, friends, work, exercise, whatever.

Put yourself out there, don't be afraid to be who you are, don't change it, search for people who are like you or will take you for who you are and celebrate you!

Best of luck!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: kei te pai on August 02, 2019, 10:26:13 PM
Who nurtures you brunetteUK? Is there someone in your life who takes care of you? Parents, aunt, sibling, cousin? Where you can go and stay for a night and they will bring you a cup of tea in bed in the morning?
if there is, now is the time to ask for their love and care.
And if there isnt, then you need to give it to yourself.
Book a massage. Buy some ready made delicious meals, some flowers for yourself, and some bubbles for the bath. Plan a day each weekend in a park, at the beach. Cry and sleep, and accept that for now you are not going to achieve much, but it will pass, and it will get better.
When you are questioning the whole of your life, its purpose and meaning, sometimes just concentrating on the next day, the next week is better than trying to redesign it all from a place of exhaustion.
Long distance hugs and best wishes.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Maenad on August 03, 2019, 07:42:22 AM
Greetings from one burnout to another! I had some serious work stress for several years, the type of meet-these-deadlines-or-the-FDA-will-padlock-our-doors kind of stress. I changed to a much less urgent role, but it's taking a long time for all of it to bleed off, and I may be unable to completely do so until RE next year. I don't have a lot of advice, but I can tell you that you're definitely not alone.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 05, 2019, 01:52:04 PM
I'm so so thankful for all the messages. I cried reading every single one of them.
Reaching out to ask for help and advice hasn't been a habit of mine, I think it's a good sign that I asked and accepted help. So thank you!

I recognize this feeling! I used to be a lot like this. I still am a little like this, but I've gotten much more chill - or much less ambitious, depending on your perspective!

Thank you @LifeHappens ! Being less ambitious was definitely not on my list. I want to be chill and ambitious. I want to have it all and not break a sweat in the process. I can see how it doesn't work. I'm letting go of that view of myself. I used to think that I would improve myself out of of me. That I would achieve so much I would morph into someone else - because I'm not enough, because I'm flawed and unlovable and would only be worthy of love if I were someone else completely. . I have known this is what my brain tells me for a while but now I realize I need to actually, practically accept that I, in the current state, am enough.

One may hypothesize that an effective antidote to burnout is to slow down, lighten the load, simplify, and put less on one's plate. This is exactly what I did to address my severe burnout years ago that led to extreme mental/physical debilitation. As an overachiever/perfectionist, I reduced the # of things I put on my "list to do" from 500 down to 5, so to speak. This really did work for me, of course it was only part of a larger more comprehensive paradigm shift (that included mindfulness, exercise, etc), but life started to feel a lot better when there was much less on my plate. And this is coming from a guy with 2 young kids, a wife, in a VHCOL area with limited disposible income. According to MMM principles, I tried to insource everything (DIY), which in part exacerbated the burnout. I still insource, but instead of 30 DIY projects on my list, maybe I've got 3. Fuck the rest, it will just have to be "good enough."

Developing skills in mindfulness has also been a lifesaver. Good luck and best wishes.

I will take your advice @Laserjet3051 and slow down. I have been doing as little as possible for the past week, I question everything and try to stop the autopilot of task after task. "Fuck the rest, it will just have to be "good enough" is my mantra at work. I can't believe too much that I can let go of the perfectionism so hearing you say it really helps.

I started meditation and it really helps. The problem was that I was using it to cope with the anxiety of all the things on my to-do list and it had the effect of making the unbearable a little more bearable. I'll go back to it after this intense do-nothing period.

this depleted energy/browned out situation is totally unnecessary
This thought is trying to kill you :-)

How about, instead: anyone who went through what I've gone through would be at the end of their rope. Anybody just trying to make it work, with so little support, for so long, would be swamped by losing what was starting to look like a deep connection.

It's all right to be a human being with human needs. It would even be all right to be a human being with greater needs than other people. You don't actually get to set your levels of needing rest and support. No one does. Some people appear to get by on less than I need. That's great, I'm happy for them, but it doesn't mean that I can do the same thing.

I think the first thing you need to do is practice shooting this thought (that this is unnecessary) down every time it appears. You need what you need. You need rest and you need support. These needs are not illegitimate. They are not made up. They will not be made to go away by pulling your socks up and sticking your chin out.

Such kind words @koshtra , thank you. I keep reading them and tearing up. My needs are legitimate and it's alright to have greater needs than other people, they are my needs.
Since my intense do-nothing started, I have, at various points, had the automatic thought of "alright then, this has been fun, let's get going, chop chop" and forced myself to stop. Listen to your gastritis! You're not healed and you're dead tired.


Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 05, 2019, 02:09:25 PM
I remember well throwing up on the way into work out of sheer stress.  Fortunately I went to see a doctor who recognised what the problem was, and simply having the problem explained helped in dealing with it.

I may be wrong here, but it sounds to me as though everything in your life is either something you do for other people or something you do because of what other people might think if you don't do it or something similar to it.

The answer to that would be to work out what it is you want to do for yourself, ignoring what other people/society might think.  Of course, working out what it is that you want to do for yourself is not easy, particularly if you have spent years/decades doing things that other people want you to do - you are all bent into the shapes other people want to make of you and finding what your own natural shape is can take time.  Take care of yourself in the meantime, and you will get there eventually.  The problem after finding what shape you should be is finding the courage to change your life to fit that new shape, of course.  But that's for the future: first find what your new shape is going to be.

I want to accept myself. Just accept that this is who I am and it's what I've got. And that is all I have to offer to the world. If people will love me, they will love the person I am now. Not brunetteUK plus goodies. But most importantly, I would like to love myself as I am. I think then I will be able to find my natural shape, I can totally see how I'm bent this and that way to fit into expectations.

I hope you're better and much less stressed at work @former player . I thought I was alright at work but now that I've stopped to listen, I noticed I was on 8 out 10 on the anxiety scale at 9am.

I found the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari to speak to a lot of what is missing in our lives, communities. It's meaningful connections, meaningful work, people who care about us that we help and help us in return.

The book specifically talks about depression and anxiety as symptoms of these missing connections, but burnout is just another symptom of the same root cause. I hope it helps.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/17/lost-connections-johann-hari-review (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/17/lost-connections-johann-hari-review)

Thank you @Habilis ! I will read it as soon as I have a bit more mental energy! :)

I hate to write things like this, because I feel it implies FIRE is the only answer, but: The burn out is real and took me the better part of one year to fully recover from. I slept and did effectively nothing for six months straight and, after that, started to feel better.

The great thing is HOW MUCH BETTER you CAN feel. Keep believing in THAT. I had no idea. Before I left my job, I had a litany of complaints that I thought were all due to aging (at 38). Aches, all sorts of pain, skin issues, intermittent stress hives, the works. A few months away from work and presto, no more problems. It freaked me out, honestly. I had NO IDEA stress could feel THAT bad.

I don't know if you have vacation time or medical leave you can take to get some solid time away, or if your workplace supports remote work from a distant, more relaxing vacation, but those may be possibilities. As other pre-FIRE folks often advise, step back as much as you can at work, reduce responsibilities, and try to achieve a don't-give-a-shit level about work until you feel better.

As you've already noticed, be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and focus on what you want things to be like going forward; the past is done and sunk cost. <3

Hi @Evgenia ! I will take your and many others' word for it. I want immediate, measurable, non-hippie results in the next two weeks. Instead, the more I stop and observe, the more I notice I'm exhausted.  I have 3 roles and 2 managers at work and they are very capable. I tell myself "not my problem, not my problem" all day long to try and step back, they can fill in for me. Both managers are aware I'm at the end of my rope, they are recruiting for one of my roles and I'm wriggling out of the other so hopefully in a month things will be more stable. In the meantime, I don't care, go ahead and fire me.

Sorry to hear you're burned out, but step one really is recognizing it for what it is. Mistaking it for being lazy or not being good enough isn't helpful. In fact, that can just lead to more problems, especially if you've long been a high achiever. Trying to square not being able to get something started, much less done, with the long held identity of being awesome is stressful in itself. But while gritting your teeth might work this time, it only makes things worse in the long run. It's how you've landed here, now. So please, be gentle with yourself.

Or said differently, when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

You're coming to terms with it. Maybe you don't fully believe you need a long period of recovery. Maybe you think you can get back to your current breakneck pace after some rest. I was guilty of such thinking at first, too. The important thing is that you see that you are indeed in a hole. The size and scope of it may surprise you later, but for now it's best to just focus on not digging the hole deeper.

If you don't know where to start with recovery, making a list of priorities is a great first step for seeing what can come out of your life. Just write down everything you've done in the last month at a rough task level, and if you can estimate the amount of time spent, even better. So if you delivered a report, that might be gathering inputs, writing a draft, asking people to proof it, thanking people for their input, making revisions, submitting the report, and fielding questions. If you helped somebody move, that might be gathering boxes, helping with organizing and scheduling, the physical moving part, getting a meal with the people you're helping, and getting some good stretching in after so you're less sore the next day.

Seeing it all in one place is a good way to realize on an emotional level how much you have going on. I know I was surprised at the extent of my list. I didn't realize quite how many different ways I was letting myself be pulled. Relate all of it to a category like work, exercise, socializing, family, and so on. If you have a category that you want to be a priority but didn't show up in your activities, note that too. Once you have your list of categories, put them in a priority order, no ties allowed. Only you can answer this question of what's important to you. And don't worry if you get it wrong, I'm still revising my priority list, and it's going to change with time anyway. For now, note how much of your time or how many of the things you're doing fall into the top couple priorities.

Not saying you have to change anything at that point, just consider how much you've taken on and how much of it truly matters to you. Whether the bulk of your time and actions are in your top categories. You may get an itch to do something about what you see. If you do, try to only drop things, not add them. If you must add, drop at least twice as much time as you'll spend on the new thing first. The goal is to free up time in your schedule for recovering by cutting unimportant stuff, not to continue burning yourself out.

Thank you @omachi , I cried so hard every time I read your post. I'm forcing myself to stop digging. I'm not fully convinced. But I can't even write down my list of priorities or what I've done in the past month; it's just too tiring. So I'll take that as a signal. I will follow your advice, but later. Right now everything can wait, I'm trying to avoid falling back into accomplishment/good girl behaviour.

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 05, 2019, 02:22:52 PM
I would say you want to surround yourself with positive people first.  Dealing with people that take a lot of energy or you have to "keep up with" can be exhausting.  Be around people who are positive and don't suck the energy out of you.  Be yourself!  Maybe you're around people that you have to keep those "social norms" around, and if you have to hold yourself back and be someone you are not then that's really difficult.  My moto is that if you don't like me, that's fine, I'm not going to change, so I probably shouldn't be around you.  I have people who I really enjoy being around and those who I don't enjoy being around I just don't be around them...  You grow apart from people, things change, friends from high school or college get into different things and it's okay to get new friends, surround yourself with new people, new interests, etc.  [...]  Those are the people you want to be around, those you don't judge you, they accept you for who you are and you can be who you are.  In your area maybe there is a rec sports league or yoga class or book club or something that you're into that you can make new friends, be around positive people, etc. 

I don't get much burnout because I somewhat enjoy my 9-5 job but also coach so I get something totally different being outside, mentoring, dealing with players and parents who enjoy the same sport as I do.  You need some different things, stuff that keeps you going, friends, work, exercise, whatever.

Put yourself out there, don't be afraid to be who you are, don't change it, search for people who are like you or will take you for who you are and celebrate you!

Best of luck!
@Beach_Stache , your words are so true! I noticed I have little patience for many people right now, including my parents and my brother. So many expectations! I do find a few friends are very nourishing for my soul and they are very positive. I'll keep this in mind, thanks!

Who nurtures you brunetteUK? Is there someone in your life who takes care of you? Parents, aunt, sibling, cousin? Where you can go and stay for a night and they will bring you a cup of tea in bed in the morning?
if there is, now is the time to ask for their love and care.
And if there isnt, then you need to give it to yourself.
Book a massage. Buy some ready made delicious meals, some flowers for yourself, and some bubbles for the bath. Plan a day each weekend in a park, at the beach. Cry and sleep, and accept that for now you are not going to achieve much, but it will pass, and it will get better.
When you are questioning the whole of your life, its purpose and meaning, sometimes just concentrating on the next day, the next week is better than trying to redesign it all from a place of exhaustion.
Long distance hugs and best wishes.

There is @kei te pai ! I have the bestest of friends! A good friend is taking care of me while I go through all this, plus I'm in regular contact with various lovely friends. And you know what? They have pretty heavy stuff going on in their lives and yet, and yet, they treat me with so much compassion and listen to me going on about a boy or a bad manager and they offer me all their love. Not a single one even suggested all this turmoil is unnecessary/uncalled for, all they want is that I take it easy on myself and get better.

I went for the massage :) best money ever spent. I'm thinking of actually taking some time off, as in off off, not run up and down holidays.  Thank you for the hugs!

Greetings from one burnout to another! I had some serious work stress for several years, the type of meet-these-deadlines-or-the-FDA-will-padlock-our-doors kind of stress. I changed to a much less urgent role, but it's taking a long time for all of it to bleed off, and I may be unable to completely do so until RE next year. I don't have a lot of advice, but I can tell you that you're definitely not alone.

Thank you @Maenad , I was convinced I was just to weak, bland and unfocused. I'm humbled to hear so many people had have the same issue. Good luck with your unwinding, let's both be gently with ourselves <3.

Again, thanks everyone! I'm crying with all the positive emotions you've given me.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Kwill on August 05, 2019, 03:06:31 PM
I'm glad you've already gotten such good advice and are listening to it and finding what works for you.

When I was going through a rough patch a few years ago with stress and a heartbreak and career worries, I adopted a cat, which helped me focus on something outside myself. Not that everything was all better but that I was comforted and distracted. I had to leave the cat with my parents when I moved, but it helped when I needed it.

I find fiction a helpful escape sometimes. Evgenia's post about travel reminded me. What works best for me is a long novel or a series that I can lose myself in and feel all the emotions and ups and downs with the characters, letting go of my own worries for the duration of the story. One series I read part of was the Saga of Recluce (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saga_of_Recluce), mainly because it was available at my public library but also because it was fairly absorbing. If you haven't read the books yet, the Harry Potter series might be good. Certainly it would be easy to find.

For me, singing and dancing have been helpful. Singing in church or other choirs and then lindy hop or other social dances organised locally.

If you have a religious background or interest, this would be a good time to connect or reconnect with your faith community. I've found that helpful as well.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: omachi on August 05, 2019, 07:52:17 PM
Thank you @omachi , I cried so hard every time I read your post. I'm forcing myself to stop digging. I'm not fully convinced. But I can't even write down my list of priorities or what I've done in the past month; it's just too tiring. So I'll take that as a signal. I will follow your advice, but later. Right now everything can wait, I'm trying to avoid falling back into accomplishment/good girl behaviour.
You're welcome, and I'm happy to talk about the subject, here or via PM.

While not being able to make the list is certainly congruent with burnout and one more bit of evidence, I'm guessing you have more than enough logical evidence at this point. I'd consider the tears first and foremost, especially if you're not much of a crier. When I was burned out, I found myself crying on occasion at kind words directed my way, typically people being gentle with me while I was beating myself up about not having it in me to get my act together. It was a definite sign that more was wrong than just motivation.

And take all the time you need to. As you may have guessed at this point, burnout isn't something you can get yourself out of by trying harder and going through the motions faster. I will caution against waiting until you feel ready or like you have your feet under you to start cutting commitments, though. It's the surplus of commitments that keeps you burned out and feeling unready. Even without a list, you probably know some stuff you can just not do that isn't a top priority.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 07, 2019, 10:03:22 AM
I've read some books about sleep and stress and self-care, so in no particular order...

1. Sleep.  I aim for 8+ a day, don't always get it.
2. Work. I set limitations.  It's HARD yo!  To get up and walk out after 8 hours (or sometimes 7), to say "no" to additional projects that you cannot do.  It takes practice to do this.
3. Healthy eating
4. Exercise.  Now, for me - sometimes that means just going for short lunch walks every day, because it gives me a reset. Sometimes, it means I pick a goal and go for it (train for a big race, get into a lifting program).  It depends on where I am, which one that I need.  Many of my friends trained for a big "goal" after a breakup.  Many many.  It's both distracting, self-care, and a mental reset.
5. Relaxing evenings: for me, tea, crocheting, reading, and an early bed.  I've got kids and I frankly stopped even dealing with bedtime. They stay up later than me.
6. Friendships.  I schedule regular times with my friends usually while exercising.
7. Vacation - a two week break minimum is ideal.  You may need a leave of absence.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 08, 2019, 03:57:54 AM
Thank you @Kwill @omachi and @mm1970 ! I'm thinking about your messages and will come back to you soon.

For now, an update on the things I've cut on. I didn't think there was that much going!

- Iíve stopped cleaning the house. Iíve done it for over 2 years. My flatmate can do it now. I need to rely on other people, itís time to see if she will be compassionate in return.

- Iíve let go of cycling. I love cycling but Iím letting that go for now, I wonít nag myself to do any exercise, not even yoga. I will go for slow walks and look at the flowers and the river.

- Iíve let go of social commitments. Not everything. Just the ones that take a bit more energy. I have lunch with my work friends. I will go out for a BBQ for a few hours this weekend, but my friends will be driving so it should be an easy there and back. I asked a friend who lives in my neighborhood for a coffee on Sunday. But Iíve cancelled dinner plans in central London. I turned down getting together with the girls outside London.

- Iíve let go of dating. This one is probably as hard as the work one. It is such a lifelong held habit that every now and again I ask myself what is it that Iím forgetting. Ah! Yes, must find love and companionship and really good sex today! Ah! Wait. Letís put a hold on that.

- Iíve stopped budgeting. My finances work very well on autopilot. And whenever I check my % savings, I always come to the conclusion that itís not good enough. Fuck that shit! I save over 40%. Consistently. On a lifestyle Iím very happy with. Iím going to label my transactions but that doesnít give me grief. I used to do this everyday so Iím slowly giving more and more days between tagging transactions.

- Iíve stopped travelling for work. They are searching for a replacement for that role. Not sure how I will handle the handover. It will depend on my health. I will suggest to my manager for the handover to be done in London, which will help the person integrate into the team since they will be working remote from all of us and it will help me in travelling less.

- Iíve let go of taking responsibility and thinking at work. Work is a tricky one. I donít know how much it has contributed to my burnout so Iím not sure how or where to scale back. Iím still in denial. This week I realised how much busier itís going to get in the next few weeks and I can see myself getting worse health wise and calling in sick. So I asked for a few fridays off so at least I'll have four days week.

And things I've added:

- Cooking. Takes the mind off things and results in delicious food.

- Gelato. It's summer and feels good on the soul.

- Massage, will go again next month.

- Scented candles, it just makes me happy.

Thanks guys :)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: FLBiker on August 08, 2019, 06:48:27 AM
Personally, the only thing that really helped in a sustainable way with breaking the "when I get that next thing I'll be happy" narrative was meditation.  I joined a local group and have been meditating everyday for about 5 years.  It's not instantaneous, but for me it has really helped.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Rdy2Fire on August 08, 2019, 07:26:43 AM
Thank you @Kwill @omachi and @mm1970 ! I'm thinking about your messages and will come back to you soon.

For now, an update on the things I've cut on. I didn't think there was that much going!

- Iíve stopped cleaning the house. Iíve done it for over 2 years. My flatmate can do it now. I need to rely on other people, itís time to see if she will be compassionate in return.

- Iíve let go of cycling. I love cycling but Iím letting that go for now, I wonít nag myself to do any exercise, not even yoga. I will go for slow walks and look at the flowers and the river.

- Iíve let go of social commitments. Not everything. Just the ones that take a bit more energy. I have lunch with my work friends. I will go out for a BBQ for a few hours this weekend, but my friends will be driving so it should be an easy there and back. I asked a friend who lives in my neighborhood for a coffee on Sunday. But Iíve cancelled dinner plans in central London. I turned down getting together with the girls outside London.

- Iíve let go of dating. This one is probably as hard as the work one. It is such a lifelong held habit that every now and again I ask myself what is it that Iím forgetting. Ah! Yes, must find love and companionship and really good sex today! Ah! Wait. Letís put a hold on that.

- Iíve stopped budgeting. My finances work very well on autopilot. And whenever I check my % savings, I always come to the conclusion that itís not good enough. Fuck that shit! I save over 40%. Consistently. On a lifestyle Iím very happy with. Iím going to label my transactions but that doesnít give me grief. I used to do this everyday so Iím slowly giving more and more days between tagging transactions.

- Iíve stopped travelling for work. They are searching for a replacement for that role. Not sure how I will handle the handover. It will depend on my health. I will suggest to my manager for the handover to be done in London, which will help the person integrate into the team since they will be working remote from all of us and it will help me in travelling less.

- Iíve let go of taking responsibility and thinking at work. Work is a tricky one. I donít know how much it has contributed to my burnout so Iím not sure how or where to scale back. Iím still in denial. This week I realised how much busier itís going to get in the next few weeks and I can see myself getting worse health wise and calling in sick. So I asked for a few fridays off so at least I'll have four days week.

And things I've added:

- Cooking. Takes the mind off things and results in delicious food.

- Gelato. It's summer and feels good on the soul.

- Massage, will go again next month.

- Scented candles, it just makes me happy.

Thanks guys :)

WOW that's a lot of change in a week.. good for you!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: SunnyDays on August 08, 2019, 09:41:28 AM
Rest and more rest, both physical and mental.  Play, be creative without worrying about the end product.  Enjoy the process.  Lower your expectations of yourself.  I remember an interview once with Michael J. Fox, who was always worrying about his performances and being the best.  His wife gave him the advice of "Just be average."  After all, most people are average.  Why do you need to be any different?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Aelias on August 08, 2019, 12:35:16 PM
Calling Dr. @Malkynn 

Take a look at this thread and Malkynn's posts in it: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/continue-the-blog-conversation/how-to-slow-down-time/.  By far, the most helpful thing I've ever read on the topic of burnout. 

Quote
OP, you sound exhausted.

Working takes energy, doing work you don't enjoy takes orders of magnitude more energy, studying takes energy, studying while tired takes energy you don't even have, basic adulting takes energy, having fun takes energy, and dealing with a chronic illness takes an ENORMOUS amount of energy.

Something has to give before you will have the capacity to really enjoy life. You need a surplus of psychological and/or physical energy in order to be mentally healthy and happy.
Living in survival mode/ "reserve mode' just isn't fun, and there's really no way to make it fun either. Being physically and emotionally perpetually overdrawn is simply toxic.

A balanced life involves a combination of activities that simultaneously drain and generate energy. A long hard day of challenging work partially drains physical and focus energy, but fuels the satisfaction and excitement energies. However, if you enter into a long and hard work day with too little physical and focus energy, you can't recharge anything and operate only on "reserve mode".

In "reserve mode" you never recharge any energy. This makes all "down time" reserved for sitting the fuck down and doing nothing, which replenishes the baseline energy reserves just enough to maintain "reserve mode", but never lets you reenergize enough to get back up to full capacity. It's why hobbies and socializing are draining and feel like work.

It's like always using your phone in "power save" mode where you never actually get to use your phone's best features. Sure, you can make a call, but what's a smart phone without the capacity to stream cat videos??

As a result, you are living a hollow shell of a life never getting to experience the world in its full colour. You are living perpetually in grey-scale. You can't even know what would make you happy because you've never experienced having enough capacity to ever be overall happy.

We have this bizarre martyr culture where when we start failing due to lack of internal and external resources, we instinctively push ourselves harder, as if a lack of resources is a personal failing and not just a reality of our personal limitations.

It's like someone who runs a marathon being disappointed with their time because they weren't rested enough, so they immediately start running it again right then and there under the premise that if they just try harder that they will go faster, even though they're infinitely more exhausted than when they woke up.

It's illogical. Yet, it's what most people instinctively do.

You look at your lower grades and think of how you should "punish" yourself with harsher study practices. Meanwhile, knowing that you are perfectly capable of performing better, you could look at those grades as a warning sign that you are using up too much of your available resources, and that pushing yourself harder is actually the least efficient option available.

If a shortage of resources is the problem, then aiming to drain even more of those precious resources without cutting back somewhere else is probably the worst move.

You're not wrong, you really aren't living and you can feel it. You are surviving. Survival mode is not living, it's the psychological equivalent of eating only meal replacement shakes. Sure, you will survive, but you aren't eating and enjoying food the way others do. It's not the same experience.

Personally, I consider living in survival mode to be a state of emergency. I think knuckling-down is the worst possible response in that state unless it's absolutely necessary for your literal survival.

Just like financial debt is a hair-on-fire situation, energy debt is an even bigger HAIR-ON-FUCKING-FIRE situation.

Practicing gratitude is one thing, but being complicit in your own self torture is another. If you have any other options available to you to start living a better life, then being grateful for a suboptimal life is nonsense.

Aiming to maintain this state for 12 long years until you can FIRE at 40 sounds insane and self destructive to me. I recommend looking at your life right now and seeing where you can make more space for yourself.

Realistically evaluate your own capacity and try to operate within it. Could you reduce your work load while studying?
Could you quit working altogether and finish school full time?

I'm not actually asking you these questions to answer, I'm posing them as the types of questions you can ask yourself to push yourself out of the parameters that you have likely set for yourself as givens in this current situation. Meanwhile almost nothing is ever actually a given.

Life is a series of trade offs and if your current trades aren't producing happiness, they might be bad deals for YOU.

Just because you *can* do everything, doesn't mean you should and doesn't mean it's the smart or right thing to do. A radical change in plans might be worth considering.

I guarantee you, life will never put external pressure on you to be happy and healthy, so the only pressure to defend your own well being will only ever come from yourself. So if you aren't putting pressure on yourself to protect your own health and happiness, no one will. The only way you can ever truly fail yourself is to not care enough about your own well being.

The most powerful question anyone has ever asked me is : "whose job do you think it is to make sure that your life is a good one?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: MaaS on August 10, 2019, 07:49:26 AM
I don't feel qualified to give advice here beyond this:

In the long term, nothing is more important than your health. Make decisions accordingly.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 10, 2019, 07:08:20 PM
We live in a ridiculous culture, maybe the most ridiculous culture that has ever existed, where we're supposed to be all of these things before we can even start being human beings. We're supposed to HAVE all of these things before we can start being human beings. We're conditioned from day one to compare ourselves to others, not their real situations, but to their public profiles. And then we're told that this is better than any other type of culture that has ever been. If you feel bad, it's YOUR fault. If you're unhappy, it's YOUR fault. Hell, if you're broke, regardless of what hell you've been through to get in that state, it's YOUR fault. Welcome to the capitalist mythology. Check your humanity at the door and become the perfect robot worker with the perfect shiny house and car! The Matrix really exists - but we're blind puppets living in individual debt bubbles instead of pods.

Or just do it your way. It's better that they think you're crazy than to actually send yourself over the edge trying to be what they think is normal.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Habilis on August 11, 2019, 01:56:23 AM
The What's Up Next Podcast which focuses on Financial Indepdence recently did this episode on burnout: http://diversefi.com/2019/07/29/whats-up-next-podcast-episode-45/ (http://diversefi.com/2019/07/29/whats-up-next-podcast-episode-45/)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 11, 2019, 08:42:32 AM
The What's Up Next Podcast which focuses on Financial Indepdence recently did this episode on burnout: http://diversefi.com/2019/07/29/whats-up-next-podcast-episode-45/ (http://diversefi.com/2019/07/29/whats-up-next-podcast-episode-45/)

Thank you @Habilis ! That podcast was very insightful. 1) Find your core values 2) Engineer your life around those. 3) Financial Independence is a tool allowing you more options, it's not a solution on itself.

It builds on what @AnnaGrowsAMustache have said and, although I have lived quite a uncommon life, I can clearly see now that the core values have been missing. More specifically, I have been waiting for my good citizen behavior and my career accomplishments to pay off in terms of fulfillment and happiness. Since it didn't , I kept self-improving and pushing forward. And since everyone tells you it's the people and connections that matter the most in life, I have been furiously chasing down a husband.
So yes, I have been trying to fit in and be normal. I have been looking at what others put on as a performance and comparing it to my backstage struggles.

In the long term, nothing is more important than your health. Make decisions accordingly.

Isn't that the truth? I think my health has always been a priority. The problem was that I didn't understand how priorities worked. Priorities was a list of 25 things I'd be taking care of, plus another 50 just waiting for me to have some time to get to them. Like @Malkynn mention somewhere, people decide exercising is a priority and then go on and cram that on top of everything else they are doing. When in reality priorities should be a short list of things that relate to your values and then you go and design your life to rotate around it.

Thank you @Aelias ! I never realized there was such a thing as energy debt. It never occurred to me that energy surplus was as essential thing.
One of my performance feedback at work was to stop work on firefighting mode, there was no need to do things by myself, with the resources I had and turn it around quickly. We were not in emergency mode. If anything needed doing I should ask for the necessary resources, raise any flags and take the necessary time to finish stuff. It's taken months but now that I work with spare capacity, I can see how much more beneficial that is to the quality and enjoyment of my work.
I also understand why having spare money eases up the pressures of decision making.
But spare energy? Never thought of that.
Calling Dr. @Malkynn 

Take a look at this thread and Malkynn's posts in it: https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/continue-the-blog-conversation/how-to-slow-down-time/.  By far, the most helpful thing I've ever read on the topic of burnout. 

Quote
It's like someone who runs a marathon being disappointed with their time because they weren't rested enough, so they immediately start running it again right then and there under the premise that if they just try harder that they will go faster, even though they're infinitely more exhausted than when they woke up.

[...]

If a shortage of resources is the problem, then aiming to drain even more of those precious resources without cutting back somewhere else is probably the worst move.


That's the story of my life. Kept running figurative marathons because a) would distract me from noticing how miserable I felt and b) surely if I do this right, then the miserable feeling would go away.

Rest and more rest, both physical and mental.  Play, be creative without worrying about the end product.  Enjoy the process.  Lower your expectations of yourself.  I remember an interview once with Michael J. Fox, who was always worrying about his performances and being the best.  His wife gave him the advice of "Just be average."  After all, most people are average.  Why do you need to be any different?

I'm resting loads and gaining a bit more energy. But you should see!!! My brain is rabid looking for something to do. It got so used to the accomplishment/good girl high. Sorry mate, we are closed for business. We are average, average, average now.

Thanks @Rdy2Fire ! :) :)

Personally, the only thing that really helped in a sustainable way with breaking the "when I get that next thing I'll be happy" narrative was meditation.  I joined a local group and have been meditating everyday for about 5 years.  It's not instantaneous, but for me it has really helped.

I gave a good try on mediation for about a month recently and it really helped. The problem is that I was using it to cope with all the priorities I imposed on myself. Once I'm over the "do nothing" stage, I will go back to medication, it was really good.

I've read some books about sleep and stress and self-care, so in no particular order...

1. Sleep.  I aim for 8+ a day, don't always get it.
2. Work. I set limitations.  It's HARD yo!  To get up and walk out after 8 hours (or sometimes 7), to say "no" to additional projects that you cannot do.  It takes practice to do this.
3. Healthy eating
4. Exercise.  Now, for me - sometimes that means just going for short lunch walks every day, because it gives me a reset. Sometimes, it means I pick a goal and go for it (train for a big race, get into a lifting program).  It depends on where I am, which one that I need.  Many of my friends trained for a big "goal" after a breakup.  Many many.  It's both distracting, self-care, and a mental reset.
5. Relaxing evenings: for me, tea, crocheting, reading, and an early bed.  I've got kids and I frankly stopped even dealing with bedtime. They stay up later than me.
6. Friendships.  I schedule regular times with my friends usually while exercising.
7. Vacation - a two week break minimum is ideal.  You may need a leave of absence.

Sleeping loads, eating healthy, trying to relax and keeping in touch with nurturing friends. I took a Friday and a Monday off to give me four days off and I'm the middle of it. I almost cried of relief when I gave myself permission to ask for days off, that it didn't need to be something in the distant future.
The next few weeks will be busy at work. I'm already telling myself that 1) if my stomach gets unhappy, I'm going off sick straight away, for as many days as necessary. 2) Both my managers are very capable professionals and I will rely on them to get the brunt of the work done (because ...ahn... part of being a manager is that you delegate the task, not the accountability; also they are not emotionally and physically burned out; I'm also suffering from heatbreak).
 





Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 11, 2019, 08:52:28 AM
I'm glad you've already gotten such good advice and are listening to it and finding what works for you.

When I was going through a rough patch a few years ago with stress and a heartbreak and career worries, I adopted a cat, which helped me focus on something outside myself. Not that everything was all better but that I was comforted and distracted. I had to leave the cat with my parents when I moved, but it helped when I needed it.

I find fiction a helpful escape sometimes. Evgenia's post about travel reminded me. What works best for me is a long novel or a series that I can lose myself in and feel all the emotions and ups and downs with the characters, letting go of my own worries for the duration of the story. One series I read part of was the Saga of Recluce (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saga_of_Recluce), mainly because it was available at my public library but also because it was fairly absorbing. If you haven't read the books yet, the Harry Potter series might be good. Certainly it would be easy to find.

For me, singing and dancing have been helpful. Singing in church or other choirs and then lindy hop or other social dances organised locally.

If you have a religious background or interest, this would be a good time to connect or reconnect with your faith community. I've found that helpful as well.

Hi @Kwill ! I always wanted the company of a dog/cat but because it didn't fit with my life, I always pushed it aside. I still think it's mean to keep pets alone all day in an apartment but...you know, if a pet is something I want, then nobody is stopping me. It's such a revelation!

I have been binge watching - and crying like a lunatic - watching Queer Eye.

When I was burned out, I found myself crying on occasion at kind words directed my way, typically people being gentle with me while I was beating myself up about not having it in me to get my act together. It was a definite sign that more was wrong than just motivation.

And take all the time you need to. As you may have guessed at this point, burnout isn't something you can get yourself out of by trying harder and going through the motions faster. I will caution against waiting until you feel ready or like you have your feet under you to start cutting commitments, though. It's the surplus of commitments that keeps you burned out and feeling unready. Even without a list, you probably know some stuff you can just not do that isn't a top priority.

I have been overwhelmed by the kind words. And it surely it is a sign. My long time friends have been so sweet and that was kind of expected, we've been through ups and downs together. But you know, I have quite new friends who have been so so gentle. I haven't even had the time to pay upfront the benefits of a friendship with me and they are already being so kind. And you know what the best response is? To take in their helps and love.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 11, 2019, 09:02:24 AM
Now that I've allowed myself not to care about anything, I've noticed a few things:

- I'm sick and tired of self-improvement. I can't read an article or have discussions on how to improve life. I've had enough to people telling me how to do things or what I should be chasing. I'm not going to morph into another person through self-improvement. My brain just doesn't take it anymore. There is no secret tip out there that is going to significantly change my life.

- I'm sick and tire of relationship advice. Now, I adore Dan Savage's advice. It changed my perspective from the boatloads of bad advice (girls are like this, boys are like that) to a much more empowered, equitable view of relationships. I recommend it to everyone. But I cannot listen to another minute of that, can't even read an article for the fun of it. Now that I put dating on hold, I can see how it was a daily and constant drain on my energy, I thought about it all the time. I inspected myself all the time. I wondered all the time. I gauged every guy against the hole in my picture perfect life. Will he fit? 
F*** this s***!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 11, 2019, 06:01:16 PM
Now that I've allowed myself not to care about anything, I've noticed a few things:

- I'm sick and tired of self-improvement. I can't read an article or have discussions on how to improve life. I've had enough to people telling me how to do things or what I should be chasing. I'm not going to morph into another person through self-improvement. My brain just doesn't take it anymore. There is no secret tip out there that is going to significantly change my life.

- I'm sick and tire of relationship advice. Now, I adore Dan Savage's advice. It changed my perspective from the boatloads of bad advice (girls are like this, boys are like that) to a much more empowered, equitable view of relationships. I recommend it to everyone. But I cannot listen to another minute of that, can't even read an article for the fun of it. Now that I put dating on hold, I can see how it was a daily and constant drain on my energy, I thought about it all the time. I inspected myself all the time. I wondered all the time. I gauged every guy against the hole in my picture perfect life. Will he fit? 
F*** this s***!

By and large 'self improvement' means how to be like everyone else. Or at least how to make peace with feeling you have to be like everyone else. You're dead on - there is no secret tip that will change your life. There is no perfect relationship, although plenty of folk are living in some mutually agreed upon hallucination! I think what you're missing when you're burned out is connection, but not to people. I think it's connection to process. Think about baking bread: you prepare your ingredients, you get your hands in the dough, you feel and smell what you're kneading, you wait for it to prove, you bake it, you cool it, you can then appreciate your efforts and perhaps share them with appreciative others. That doesn't happen at work. Only rarely will you get to see the entire, lengthy process with all the stages. And even more rarely will you ever have the period of rest and appreciation for your efforts at the end. And rarest of all is a work process that was worth the bloody effort to begin with! Maybe if you're a surgeon or something..... My tip for burnout is to make something. Perhaps something that you have to learn how to do first. Almost anything you physically make will engage all of your senses, and have an end result. Do something where you get to see and smell and feel a process, and enjoy the result. Go fishing and cook your catch, make a scented candle, bake bread, foster baby animals, clean something filthy, reupholster a bit of furniture, knit or crochet a wearable item.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: omachi on August 12, 2019, 06:33:28 PM
I think what you're missing when you're burned out is connection, but not to people. I think it's connection to process. Think about baking bread: you prepare your ingredients, you get your hands in the dough, you feel and smell what you're kneading, you wait for it to prove, you bake it, you cool it, you can then appreciate your efforts and perhaps share them with appreciative others. That doesn't happen at work. Only rarely will you get to see the entire, lengthy process with all the stages. And even more rarely will you ever have the period of rest and appreciation for your efforts at the end. And rarest of all is a work process that was worth the bloody effort to begin with! Maybe if you're a surgeon or something..... My tip for burnout is to make something.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I love making bread. I loved making bread years ago, since I was a kid, even. It's a near weekly affair at my house. During my period of burnout, I did not enjoy making bread. It was another thing to do that I had to spend my already over-budgeted time and energy to do. I wasn't able to enjoy making bread again until I had cleared enough things out of my schedule.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 12, 2019, 06:58:20 PM
Now that I've allowed myself not to care about anything, I've noticed a few things:

- I'm sick and tired of self-improvement. I can't read an article or have discussions on how to improve life. I've had enough to people telling me how to do things or what I should be chasing. I'm not going to morph into another person through self-improvement. My brain just doesn't take it anymore. There is no secret tip out there that is going to significantly change my life.

- I'm sick and tire of relationship advice. Now, I adore Dan Savage's advice. It changed my perspective from the boatloads of bad advice (girls are like this, boys are like that) to a much more empowered, equitable view of relationships. I recommend it to everyone. But I cannot listen to another minute of that, can't even read an article for the fun of it. Now that I put dating on hold, I can see how it was a daily and constant drain on my energy, I thought about it all the time. I inspected myself all the time. I wondered all the time. I gauged every guy against the hole in my picture perfect life. Will he fit? 
F*** this s***!

+1 on the self improvement.

Now, I'm not anti- self improvement. I am type-A, after all.  But I seem to have found myself around a large number of people lately who are UBER into it.

Constantly reading self help books, talking about how to DO MORE and BE MORE.  And...these are people that I admire and love but shit, I just want to half ass it sometimes.  I'm fucking tired!

NO! I don't need to spend my work hours learning new skills, going all out for the job, showing everyone what I can accomplish!  I just want to do my job and go home.
NO! I don't need to start training for a marathon, start doing crossfit, dial in my nutrition to get 6-pack abs underneath that loose belly skin.  Healthy is good enough, you know?
ALWAYS STRIVE TO IMPROVE AND DO BETTER AT EVERYTHING.  Why?  Why can't I be happy with where I am?

I think some of it is age...most of my cohort who are pushing like this are about 40...I was probably like that at 40.

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 12, 2019, 07:31:59 PM
I think what you're missing when you're burned out is connection, but not to people. I think it's connection to process. Think about baking bread: you prepare your ingredients, you get your hands in the dough, you feel and smell what you're kneading, you wait for it to prove, you bake it, you cool it, you can then appreciate your efforts and perhaps share them with appreciative others. That doesn't happen at work. Only rarely will you get to see the entire, lengthy process with all the stages. And even more rarely will you ever have the period of rest and appreciation for your efforts at the end. And rarest of all is a work process that was worth the bloody effort to begin with! Maybe if you're a surgeon or something..... My tip for burnout is to make something.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I love making bread. I loved making bread years ago, since I was a kid, even. It's a near weekly affair at my house. During my period of burnout, I did not enjoy making bread. It was another thing to do that I had to spend my already over-budgeted time and energy to do. I wasn't able to enjoy making bread again until I had cleared enough things out of my schedule.

That didn't work for you. For me, baking bread was something I'd never done before, so it required different parts of my brain to learn the process and carry it out.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: omachi on August 12, 2019, 08:13:02 PM
I think what you're missing when you're burned out is connection, but not to people. I think it's connection to process. Think about baking bread: you prepare your ingredients, you get your hands in the dough, you feel and smell what you're kneading, you wait for it to prove, you bake it, you cool it, you can then appreciate your efforts and perhaps share them with appreciative others. That doesn't happen at work. Only rarely will you get to see the entire, lengthy process with all the stages. And even more rarely will you ever have the period of rest and appreciation for your efforts at the end. And rarest of all is a work process that was worth the bloody effort to begin with! Maybe if you're a surgeon or something..... My tip for burnout is to make something.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I love making bread. I loved making bread years ago, since I was a kid, even. It's a near weekly affair at my house. During my period of burnout, I did not enjoy making bread. It was another thing to do that I had to spend my already over-budgeted time and energy to do. I wasn't able to enjoy making bread again until I had cleared enough things out of my schedule.

That didn't work for you. For me, baking bread was something I'd never done before, so it required different parts of my brain to learn the process and carry it out.
Simply adding more to an already overfull plate doesn't pull people out of burnout. It doesn't matter if it's a complete process or just one more small task.

I would wager baking bread could help if it one replaced a long day of work with the slow act of intentionally baking, relaxing during the proofs, and socializing over the results. But I'd only make that wager because it's the replacement of far too much going on with something of a much more relaxed pace. I wouldn't take the bet if it's just cramming the stages in around the rest of an already heavy load.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Dicey on August 12, 2019, 11:16:19 PM
Lots of good advice has been offered here. I just wanted to commiserate, because my past self could have written every word of your post. If I may address the breakup situation, please. I dated my ever-loving brains out looking for The One. Dated a lot of really great guys, but things just never seemed to feel/fit right, or I flat out got dumped. At one point, I even had the ring, the date and the dress. (<--ending that one was my call. No regrets.) I had my heart broken so many times, Carly Simon's "Coming Around Again" was my personal anthem. (Crib notes: "There's more room in a broken heart...")

When I was 54, I finally met and married The One. I FIRE'd the same year. All the pieces finally came together and it was worth all the struggle and every fucking minute of heartbreak. Crazy as it is, I LOVE my new life.

Listen to the wise words of advice that have been given, and always, always believe in yourself, no matter what. Never let go of your dreams. It's okay to let them go dormant for a while, like taking a dating hiatus, but never forget to nurture your heart's desire.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Loretta on August 12, 2019, 11:51:11 PM
I would suggest taking a morning off work to get a physical exam with bloodwork and if your Vitamin D is in the low range, supplement it up.  Bloodwork can also reveal other stuff that leaves us feeling crappy, but can be fixed relatively easily. 
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: former player on August 13, 2019, 12:20:07 AM
I would suggest taking a morning off work to get a physical exam with bloodwork and if your Vitamin D is in the low range, supplement it up.  Bloodwork can also reveal other stuff that leaves us feeling crappy, but can be fixed relatively easily.
Love your forum name.

But also: BrunetteUK is the forum name of OP. UK, right?  NHS, yes?  That means 10 minutes with a stressed out GP and no "bloodwork" unless it's for something specific that has been indicated by physical symptoms.

Also: high summer here, and it's been a hot one, so if OP is getting any time outside at all their vitamin D is probably fine.  Although I would agree with you that a vitamin D supplement is probably not a bad idea for someone who doesn't get out much in winter.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 13, 2019, 12:42:20 AM
I think what you're missing when you're burned out is connection, but not to people. I think it's connection to process. Think about baking bread: you prepare your ingredients, you get your hands in the dough, you feel and smell what you're kneading, you wait for it to prove, you bake it, you cool it, you can then appreciate your efforts and perhaps share them with appreciative others. That doesn't happen at work. Only rarely will you get to see the entire, lengthy process with all the stages. And even more rarely will you ever have the period of rest and appreciation for your efforts at the end. And rarest of all is a work process that was worth the bloody effort to begin with! Maybe if you're a surgeon or something..... My tip for burnout is to make something.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I love making bread. I loved making bread years ago, since I was a kid, even. It's a near weekly affair at my house. During my period of burnout, I did not enjoy making bread. It was another thing to do that I had to spend my already over-budgeted time and energy to do. I wasn't able to enjoy making bread again until I had cleared enough things out of my schedule.

That didn't work for you. For me, baking bread was something I'd never done before, so it required different parts of my brain to learn the process and carry it out.
Simply adding more to an already overfull plate doesn't pull people out of burnout. It doesn't matter if it's a complete process or just one more small task.

I would wager baking bread could help if it one replaced a long day of work with the slow act of intentionally baking, relaxing during the proofs, and socializing over the results. But I'd only make that wager because it's the replacement of far too much going on with something of a much more relaxed pace. I wouldn't take the bet if it's just cramming the stages in around the rest of an already heavy load.

Well, it worked for me. It was the end to end project that wasn't related to anything I HAD to do re work etc. Much like all other advice, if it doesn't work for you, don't use it??
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on August 13, 2019, 06:14:39 AM
I think what you're missing when you're burned out is connection, but not to people. I think it's connection to process. Think about baking bread: you prepare your ingredients, you get your hands in the dough, you feel and smell what you're kneading, you wait for it to prove, you bake it, you cool it, you can then appreciate your efforts and perhaps share them with appreciative others. That doesn't happen at work. Only rarely will you get to see the entire, lengthy process with all the stages. And even more rarely will you ever have the period of rest and appreciation for your efforts at the end. And rarest of all is a work process that was worth the bloody effort to begin with! Maybe if you're a surgeon or something..... My tip for burnout is to make something.
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I love making bread. I loved making bread years ago, since I was a kid, even. It's a near weekly affair at my house. During my period of burnout, I did not enjoy making bread. It was another thing to do that I had to spend my already over-budgeted time and energy to do. I wasn't able to enjoy making bread again until I had cleared enough things out of my schedule.

That didn't work for you. For me, baking bread was something I'd never done before, so it required different parts of my brain to learn the process and carry it out.

You know, knitting was one of the things I took up as I was recovering from severe burnout. But I couldn't take it up right away. For a while, it was a major accomplishment to get up and get dressed and get to work every morning. And that was almost more than I could do and it took all of my physical and mental energy. At one point, I spent an entire weekend in my pajamas, and most of that time on a kitchen chair, staring at the wall. I had absolutely nothing left to give, and I was like that for a few months until I could leave my toxic job and career. Only then was I able to pick up anything new.

OP: A new productive, sensory hobby is a great idea. But if you're too mentally exhausted to take up something new right now, be compassionate with yourself and don't force it. If bread making or knitting or rock climbing or whatever sounds interesting but just too much, give yourself some time and come back to it when you've been able to get some rest.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 13, 2019, 09:47:42 AM
Now that I've allowed myself not to care about anything, I've noticed a few things:

- I'm sick and tired of self-improvement. I can't read an article or have discussions on how to improve life. I've had enough to people telling me how to do things or what I should be chasing. I'm not going to morph into another person through self-improvement. My brain just doesn't take it anymore. There is no secret tip out there that is going to significantly change my life.

- I'm sick and tire of relationship advice. Now, I adore Dan Savage's advice. It changed my perspective from the boatloads of bad advice (girls are like this, boys are like that) to a much more empowered, equitable view of relationships. I recommend it to everyone. But I cannot listen to another minute of that, can't even read an article for the fun of it. Now that I put dating on hold, I can see how it was a daily and constant drain on my energy, I thought about it all the time. I inspected myself all the time. I wondered all the time. I gauged every guy against the hole in my picture perfect life. Will he fit? 
F*** this s***!

+1 on the self improvement.

Now, I'm not anti- self improvement. I am type-A, after all.  But I seem to have found myself around a large number of people lately who are UBER into it.

Constantly reading self help books, talking about how to DO MORE and BE MORE.  And...these are people that I admire and love but shit, I just want to half ass it sometimes.  I'm fucking tired!

NO! I don't need to spend my work hours learning new skills, going all out for the job, showing everyone what I can accomplish!  I just want to do my job and go home.
NO! I don't need to start training for a marathon, start doing crossfit, dial in my nutrition to get 6-pack abs underneath that loose belly skin.  Healthy is good enough, you know?
ALWAYS STRIVE TO IMPROVE AND DO BETTER AT EVERYTHING.  Why?  Why can't I be happy with where I am?

I think some of it is age...most of my cohort who are pushing like this are about 40...I was probably like that at 40.

If you are 40+, perimenopause or menopause might also be a factor. Fluctuating hormones can really do a number on you in many different ways.

Ain't that the truth.  Sometimes I wonder if we are all going to survive me going through peri-menopause at the same time my son is going through puberty. It gets ugly. Then I'm probably going to be in full blown menopause when son #2 hits puberty, sigh.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 15, 2019, 05:10:36 AM
Unfortunately I'm burned out as well. Currently 4 months sick at home. I'm very, very fortunate that neither my GP nor the company doctor (who approves sick leave if you're sick for longer than 2 weeks) mess around with burn out, so I've gotten the all clear to stay home and do nothing. The company doctor has even forbidden me from exercising - I don't have the energy. And if I do have the energy, I shouldn't be spending it all right away. He ordered me to do 3 things: have a long walk every day, get therapy once a week, do something I enjoy when I feel like it.
 
Man... my brain did NOT like that. My Calvinistic upbringing shone through; I can't just do nothing and get paid my normal wages. I'm a nuisance to the company. I'm failing. I'm a disappointment. Now other people will have to pick up the work I left behind.
 
My workaholic brain was freaking out like a cat in a bathtub. I couldn't sleep for more than 5 hours, waking up backwards (like, my feet on my pillow, head at the foot end of the bed), nightmares. So then I thought: I can't be burned out, I don't sleep more than 5 hours. Burn-out means you sleep a lot, right? Cue the guilt!
 
I was recently on holiday. Doctor approved, he said I should go and enjoy it, be out in nature. It'd be good for me. Well, the holiday took a shit load of energy. As in, I was throwing up for a week when I got back, migraines galore.
 
I'm figuring out how to deal with burn out, so I don't exactly know what advice to give you. At the very least: don't pussy foot with burn out. Try and get sick leave. The longer you fight it, the longer it'll take. You are sick. No two ways about it.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 15, 2019, 11:04:08 AM
Unfortunately I'm burned out as well. Currently 4 months sick at home. I'm very, very fortunate that neither my GP nor the company doctor (who approves sick leave if you're sick for longer than 2 weeks) mess around with burn out, so I've gotten the all clear to stay home and do nothing. The company doctor has even forbidden me from exercising - I don't have the energy. And if I do have the energy, I shouldn't be spending it all right away. He ordered me to do 3 things: have a long walk every day, get therapy once a week, do something I enjoy when I feel like it.
 
Man... my brain did NOT like that. My Calvinistic upbringing shone through; I can't just do nothing and get paid my normal wages. I'm a nuisance to the company. I'm failing. I'm a disappointment. Now other people will have to pick up the work I left behind.
 
My workaholic brain was freaking out like a cat in a bathtub. I couldn't sleep for more than 5 hours, waking up backwards (like, my feet on my pillow, head at the foot end of the bed), nightmares. So then I thought: I can't be burned out, I don't sleep more than 5 hours. Burn-out means you sleep a lot, right? Cue the guilt!
 
I was recently on holiday. Doctor approved, he said I should go and enjoy it, be out in nature. It'd be good for me. Well, the holiday took a shit load of energy. As in, I was throwing up for a week when I got back, migraines galore.
 
I'm figuring out how to deal with burn out, so I don't exactly know what advice to give you. At the very least: don't pussy foot with burn out. Try and get sick leave. The longer you fight it, the longer it'll take. You are sick. No two ways about it.
This sounds horrible.

One of my coworkers doesn't know when to cut back.   He didn't have burn out but he did get mono...that took quite a long time to recover from.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 16, 2019, 03:24:36 AM

+1 on the self improvement.

Now, I'm not anti- self improvement. I am type-A, after all.  But I seem to have found myself around a large number of people lately who are UBER into it.

Constantly reading self help books, talking about how to DO MORE and BE MORE.  And...these are people that I admire and love but shit, I just want to half ass it sometimes.  I'm fucking tired!

NO! I don't need to spend my work hours learning new skills, going all out for the job, showing everyone what I can accomplish!  I just want to do my job and go home.
NO! I don't need to start training for a marathon, start doing crossfit, dial in my nutrition to get 6-pack abs underneath that loose belly skin.  Healthy is good enough, you know?
ALWAYS STRIVE TO IMPROVE AND DO BETTER AT EVERYTHING.  Why?  Why can't I be happy with where I am?

I think some of it is age...most of my cohort who are pushing like this are about 40...I was probably like that at 40.

Hi @mm1970 !
I think the drive to DO MORE and BE MORE is particularly strong when you are a type A and don't have a direction. You are sitting with all the drive and motivation and you are not living your best life. So you start chasing objectives that everyone says is great: exercise! fancy cooking! optimal nutrition! become prettier!

I always thought running marathons are kinda dumb. It became famous because the guy who invented it collapsed and died! Because it's too much to ask from your body. And yet, everyone gets a round of applause when they say they're starting to prepare for a marathon. Why are you doing it? You can get better fitness without putting your body through all that stress. If you like running, you can just...run.
I think a lot of people do it because it's a challenge and it's pushing yourself. And we always get cookies when we push ourselves, right? Nobody will stop you and say "listen, it's a big commitment, are you sure it is right for you?"

Everyone will cheered me when I said I wanted a promotion. Even when it was giving me gastritis, nausea and other gory effects.

Now, if I had looked a it the same way I look at marathons, I would have asked myself: "Right, you wanna to become badass finance person, but...why? Is the effort worth it?"

I love this marathon analogy! I will ask myself "am I deciding to run a marathon here?" for everything I decide to chase.

By the way, this is not a criticism of marathons hehe I just think many people decide to run non-stop for 4 hours without questioning if that's a good idea.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 16, 2019, 03:33:36 AM
Lots of good advice has been offered here. I just wanted to commiserate, because my past self could have written every word of your post. If I may address the breakup situation, please. I dated my ever-loving brains out looking for The One. Dated a lot of really great guys, but things just never seemed to feel/fit right, or I flat out got dumped. At one point, I even had the ring, the date and the dress. (<--ending that one was my call. No regrets.) I had my heart broken so many times, Carly Simon's "Coming Around Again" was my personal anthem. (Crib notes: "There's more room in a broken heart...")

When I was 54, I finally met and married The One. I FIRE'd the same year. All the pieces finally came together and it was worth all the struggle and every fucking minute of heartbreak. Crazy as it is, I LOVE my new life.

Listen to the wise words of advice that have been given, and always, always believe in yourself, no matter what. Never let go of your dreams. It's okay to let them go dormant for a while, like taking a dating hiatus, but never forget to nurture your heart's desire.

@Dicey , let's hug it out and cry and commiserate together. I'm starting to think about relationships the same way about I think about being a mother. The world around runs sells it to us relentlessly. It's romanticised enormously. It's portrayed as an essential requisite for a full life. What do you mean you never fell in love? You don't want to be a mother? Gasp! And if you complain, then you are the faulty one! Any negative aspects are brushed aside and everything should be endured in the name of having a partner, having a family.

Why sell it so hard if it is so great?

It is so strange being in a "not dating" mode. Like, is that allowed? Isn't that what sad, miserable people say? Do I automatically change into a crazy cat lady? But what if today is the day? It actually gives me a lot of peace of mind, I'm thankful.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 16, 2019, 03:45:36 AM

I would suggest taking a morning off work to get a physical exam with bloodwork and if your Vitamin D is in the low range, supplement it up.  Bloodwork can also reveal other stuff that leaves us feeling crappy, but can be fixed relatively easily.
Love your forum name.

But also: BrunetteUK is the forum name of OP. UK, right?  NHS, yes?  That means 10 minutes with a stressed out GP and no "bloodwork" unless it's for something specific that has been indicated by physical symptoms.

Also: high summer here, and it's been a hot one, so if OP is getting any time outside at all their vitamin D is probably fine.  Although I would agree with you that a vitamin D supplement is probably not a bad idea for someone who doesn't get out much in winter.

I'm considering doing a comprehensive blood test. Even if I go private.
It's just that I don't want to pathologize my sadness and sub-optimal life choices. I don't to be "ohhh, I'm xyz deficient so I'll take the supplements so I'll get back on the treadmill." But I will do it soon in the future.

@AnnaGrowsAMustache , @omachi @OtherJen Thanks for the tips. I have been cooking more. The handling things with my hands, chopping them up, stirring etc takes my mind off things and it's easy enough. Also, the result is always pretty average so it's great for my perfectionism.

This weekend I want to rearrange the stuff in my kitchen cupboards. There will be no reward, no on will clap, it's quite unnecessary. But I will move my body and engage my mind in an easy way.

Hi @lhamo , hi @mm1970 - I'm 30 and my hormones work like clockwork once I got off hormonal contraception. But it's true that our bodies change and sometimes we want to operate as if we were 21. I keep arguing that I'm not that tired, that I'm not really actually burned out. Yeah, righ. I go down a flight of stairs and the legs and lungs start asking for sleep. Maybe the body is talking...
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 16, 2019, 04:04:56 AM
Unfortunately I'm burned out as well. Currently 4 months sick at home. I'm very, very fortunate that neither my GP nor the company doctor (who approves sick leave if you're sick for longer than 2 weeks) mess around with burn out, so I've gotten the all clear to stay home and do nothing. The company doctor has even forbidden me from exercising - I don't have the energy. And if I do have the energy, I shouldn't be spending it all right away. He ordered me to do 3 things: have a long walk every day, get therapy once a week, do something I enjoy when I feel like it.
 
Man... my brain did NOT like that. My Calvinistic upbringing shone through; I can't just do nothing and get paid my normal wages. I'm a nuisance to the company. I'm failing. I'm a disappointment. Now other people will have to pick up the work I left behind.
 
My workaholic brain was freaking out like a cat in a bathtub. I couldn't sleep for more than 5 hours, waking up backwards (like, my feet on my pillow, head at the foot end of the bed), nightmares. So then I thought: I can't be burned out, I don't sleep more than 5 hours. Burn-out means you sleep a lot, right? Cue the guilt!
 
I was recently on holiday. Doctor approved, he said I should go and enjoy it, be out in nature. It'd be good for me. Well, the holiday took a shit load of energy. As in, I was throwing up for a week when I got back, migraines galore.
 
I'm figuring out how to deal with burn out, so I don't exactly know what advice to give you. At the very least: don't pussy foot with burn out. Try and get sick leave. The longer you fight it, the longer it'll take. You are sick. No two ways about it.

Hi @Nederstash ! I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. I can only repeat what Malkynn posted and I keep telling myself: "whose job it is to make sure you live your best life?"

I see myself in all the words you've written.
I feel so tired but someone, someone in my head goes "you have no grounds to feel tired, no authorisation granted." Except... except I need to rest for 10 minutes after my 30 minutes tube journey to work, because I'm so tired.

I'm slowly slowly regaining my energy. Only yesterday I was getting all worked up by lunch time at work. I had to stop myself from caring, step away from my desk and take my lunch break. When I came back I had to go to the bathroom stall, sit and rest my head on the wall for 20 minutes so tired I was feeling.

I don't know why but it is so hard to allow myself to take it easy.

Same with friends, people ask me how I'm doing and my instinct is to reassure them. Like I'm only allowed to be unwell for a little while but then have to come back stronger. These days I just keep repeating: no, I'm not well, no, I can't go anywhere, no, I don't have energy, no, tummy is bad. I'd love to see you but you will need to come to me. Thanks for offering to have me over at your place and pamper me but even that it's too much for my body. Yes, you can come visit me and we can spend time together but don't expect me to be cheerful.

I think overall I'm behaving like a cat: nap, demand to be fed, nap again.




 
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Gail2000 on August 16, 2019, 05:54:12 AM
Be gentle with yourself. After the kiddo was born I tried to keep the same pace. Cook big meal, go out and explore but I was sleep deprived and my body rebelled. It took me years to recoup. Sun helped. My husband didnít. My kiddo finally got her mom back but I tried to rush. Look for things that make you happy and content and revel in the little things. A soft blanket, a delicious cookie. My kiddo splashing in puddles got me smiling. I think the Danish call this Hhug? Branch of philosophy that celebrates the simple joys. Easier said then done, I  realize but start small.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 16, 2019, 08:34:04 AM
How have I managed to miss this thread where I've somehow still been a part of without ever posting???

[Disclaimer: even though it wasn't meant literally "paging Dr. Malkynn" should be clarified that I'm not that kind of doctor and none of what I post here constitutes medical advice. Cool, got that cleared up.]

Ugh...burnout...what a complex, bitchy little creature it is.

The thing with burnout, is that it's as individual as the person experiencing it, and it finds special little toxic ways to bore it's way into your brain and grow deep roots through your nervous system that you can't even tell are there. The surface experience is just the tip of the iceberg, and the damage it does isn't even detectable until you are well into recovery and years into therapy you start realizing that you have behavioural patterns that you didn't even know you had that are constantly working against you ever feeling truly safe.

Ask me how I know.

Here's the worst part: the more adapted a person is to deal with ongoing burnout, the more insidious the damage.
By that, I mean that the amazing tools and skills it takes to keep on going, the discipline, the drive, the instinct to turn every challenge into a triumph, all of those skills will work against you ever actually being mentally happy and healthy.
Your system gets fundamentally rewired.

Once you've rewired to that being your normal, you can no longer totally trust your instincts...maybe even ever.

You can't trust the instincts that drive you to see suffering as a temporary necessity for the sake of an outcome. Sure, yeah, they're ultra productive, but they have their limits in terms of utility, and your understanding of those limits has been fundamentally warped.
You think you are hitting your limit now? Fuck, you probably hit it years ago and have been running on reserves and damaging yourself for a very long time.

It's kind of like how no one seeks out marriage counseling until the marital problems are so bad that they're deciding between counseling and contacting a divorce lawyer. The damage is already done, and healing often isn't even possible.

Basically, if you can perceive the impacts of burnout on your life and well being, you are so far down the goddamn rabbit hole that it is a health emergency. No, that is not an overstatement, and yes, I fully intend it to sound as alarmist as it does.

Burntout people, especially women, tend to be absolutely terrible at recognizing how critical it is to put their well being first. Society idiotically practically worships suffering and sacrifice as virtuous, which is fundamentally unhealthy, but it is what it is.
People admire the marathon runner for the hell they put themselves through even though the actual feat isn't productive, how fucked up is that???

A lot of us accomplishment-junkies have been pat on the head and rewarded for our fucked up instincts and adaptations that we easily fell under the misapprehension that we are actually doing something good, something worthwhile, something admirable, or just something necessary.

What a crock of shit.

Here's what I've learned the hard way:
there is absolutely nothing admirable, respectable, dignified, or decent about letting your mental or physical health fall apart because you chose not to prioritize it. You are the only responsible custodian of your mind and body, and it's no ones job to take care of you, but you. If you aren't going to do it, literally no one else will, and you will have neglected the single most important resource that you have.

Life won't thank you for grinding yourself into a fine paste.
MMM talks about debt being an emergency, well burnout debt is a far bigger emergency, and can take quite a bit longer and far more work to recover from.

The exhaustion you are describing is a state of emergency. Your body is literally shutting itself down in a desperate attempt to stop you from doing the insane shit that will literally kill you. I'm not being dramatic, this shit will kill you.
That asshole voice that tells you that you aren't entitled to this exhaustion is part of the rewiring I mentioned earlier, it's the survival system that has taken over out of necessity. The problem is that the thriving instincts are suppressed when the survival system is in control.

It's basic biology, fight or flight. In survival mode, the body shunts blood away from important functions for thriving in order to prioritize critical functions for surviving. Those biological reflexes don't exist in a vacuum, they come along with a complex set of psychological reflexes that help support them. You don't just need blood to your legs to run, you need to feel the importance of running.

Your survival system is in charge. That voice is that system. Your instincts to power through are that system.
That system is a normal part of human existence, which is why it feels normal to you, but just like an animal will die of exhaustion after running for too long, you will too, which is what is literally happening. Your entire system has been geared away from thriving functions for so long, it's shutting down.

That system is AMAZING in small doses reserved for real emergencies.
It's a fucking disaster when it turns into your day to day system for living.

Be warned, it's not super fun to change gears and get back into thriving mode. I can't tell you how fucking frustrating it can be once you learn what your actual healthy limits are, how little you can actually handle while still thriving. It can feel like voluntarily giving up a super power.

But guess what, you are actually weak. You aren't tough enough to do what you have been doing. You do have limits.
There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing shameful in that. We are all fundamentally weak because we are human, and humans all have physical and psychological limitations well below what we can temporarily survive.

It's not admirable to push your mind and body further than it's fragile little limits can take. It IS admirable to learn what those limits are and build a sustainable life within them.

Trust me, life is much better for you and everyone you love if you take on the hardest challenge of all: being happy and healthy. It's far more admirable and inspiring than any hardcore shit you can accomplish at your own expense.

It's not a matter of "deserving" anything, it's a matter of basic human responsibility to not waste the life you've been given for the sake of a pat on the head for being so very very willing to suffer.


[eta: fuck, that went kind of deep...probably because I just got off the phone talking about someone incredibly bright, talented and accomplished who died at 45, ultimately because he failed to live up to his own expectations in his 30s and he never recovered]



 
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: iluvzbeach on August 16, 2019, 08:48:54 AM
@Malkynn, thank you for this brilliant post. Itís something I needed to read.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 16, 2019, 02:36:09 PM
@Malkynn wow, this really hits home. I think you are so, so right that there are actual biological consequences, it's not just mental. Blood pressure, intestinal health, grey hairs, nervous system, muscles, sinuses... I could go on, they're all affected by chronic stress.
 
@brunetteUK I'm really worried that you're still working. Needing a 10 or 20 minute rest after a commute is NOT okay. You're pushing yourself too far. Can you get a doctor to clear you for sick leave? Or to clear you for working fewer hours?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: takemewest on August 16, 2019, 03:04:29 PM
@Malkynn I, too, want to say thanks for that. I'm going to re-read it a lot this weekend since it absolutely applies to my post from yesterday. I was literally just sitting here in my classroom, trying to figure out whether I would work both Saturday AND Sunday to lesson plan and get my new class prep off the ground. Ugh.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 16, 2019, 06:57:55 PM
@Malkynn so spot on. Stress is PHYSICAL. It might have mental/emotional symptoms, but it's a physical, body-based condition. The mental symptoms are often the last people notice, once they've ignored being tired all the time, or indigestion/bowel symptoms, headaches, nausea, insomnia, weight loss or gain etc. It's only when people get to the point that they are so mentally drained they can't do their jobs that they will put it all together - and then half of then will go to a doc and get med for depression or anxiety. It's not that simple. Stress is a killer, and if it doesn't actually kill you it'll take years off your life. Take it seriously. Behave like you have heart disease - rest, change your lifestyle to reduce all stress, concentrate on your diet and overall wellbeing, do small things that make you happy or engaged. Realise first and foremost that you won't be able to do all of those things at once. It will take time. Start with the little things that engage you, like cleaning your cupboards as you mentioned.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: okisok on August 17, 2019, 10:21:22 PM
Thanks so much to everyone for this thread. I didn't realize I needed to hear all these things until I read them, from strangers all around the world. You are appreciated.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 19, 2019, 07:02:35 AM
Be gentle with yourself. After the kiddo was born I tried to keep the same pace. Cook big meal, go out and explore but I was sleep deprived and my body rebelled. It took me years to recoup. Sun helped. My husband didnít. My kiddo finally got her mom back but I tried to rush. Look for things that make you happy and content and revel in the little things. A soft blanket, a delicious cookie. My kiddo splashing in puddles got me smiling. I think the Danish call this Hhug? Branch of philosophy that celebrates the simple joys. Easier said then done, I  realize but start small.

Hi @Gail2000 - I'm happy to hear you recouped :) I like taking pictures of gardens and I've been enjoying that a lot recently. Simple pleasures.

@brunetteUK I'm really worried that you're still working. Needing a 10 or 20 minute rest after a commute is NOT okay. You're pushing yourself too far. Can you get a doctor to clear you for sick leave? Or to clear you for working fewer hours?
*looks around the room*
Me?... sick ...leave? But...as in...me?
@Nederstash your comment made me actually consider seeing the doctor for burnout sick leave. I asked a friend about what companies ask for etc when you are off sick for more than a week and I feel reassured. I booked an appointment with my doctor.
I can't really believe I'm going to ask for sick leave. But I am so t.i.r.e.d at work.


Here's the worst part: the more adapted a person is to deal with ongoing burnout, the more insidious the damage.
By that, I mean that the amazing tools and skills it takes to keep on going, the discipline, the drive, the instinct to turn every challenge into a triumph, all of those skills will work against you ever actually being mentally happy and healthy.
Your system gets fundamentally rewired.

Once you've rewired to that being your normal, you can no longer totally trust your instincts...maybe even ever.

You can't trust the instincts that drive you to see suffering as a temporary necessity for the sake of an outcome. Sure, yeah, they're ultra productive, but they have their limits in terms of utility, and your understanding of those limits has been fundamentally warped.

Thanks for your words @Malkynn , they gave me a lot to think about!

After a month of minimum activity, this weekend I set out to a) clean the kitchen b) sort out the cupboards.
Everyone already laughing? I got into a vortex of activity! I made a list so I would consider every task before adding it to the list, to try and keep it short. But it was like watching someone else from a separate dimension. I could see my hands cleaning the bathroom sink or cleaning out cupboards at 9pm and I could not stop it. Woman, what are you doing? I don't know, I can't actually stop myself. It took discipline from depths never reached before to be able to step away.
This was particularly difficult on Sunday, I was meeting up with friends at 3pm and I need to a)buy milk b)buy a cake. But the house was a mess! I started sorting out the cupboards and I had stuff scattered everywhere!
But... I had to lay down back on my bed after breakfast because I was feeling dizzy. I was in bed, in shock, thinking to myself "Fuck" as I realised there simply was no energy. I had had a shower in the morning and you know, I had to sit down in the tub to shower. "Fuck", I thought. I think I'm exhausted.
I was so difficult to abort mission.
That's when I saw clearly that, indeed, my understanding of my limits is fundamentally warped.

You think you are hitting your limit now? Fuck, you probably hit it years ago and have been running on reserves and damaging yourself for a very long time.

It's kind of like how no one seeks out marriage counseling until the marital problems are so bad that they're deciding between counseling and contacting a divorce lawyer. The damage is already done, and healing often isn't even possible.

Basically, if you can perceive the impacts of burnout on your life and well being, you are so far down the goddamn rabbit hole that it is a health emergency. No, that is not an overstatement, and yes, I fully intend it to sound as alarmist as it does.

Let me see, you said "hit your limits years ago" and from the top of my head I can recall, in chronological order:
- the physical breakdown 4 years ago that kept in bed for 4 days
- the mental breakdown a month later, which led me to my doctor begging for a psychiatrist (therapy ensued, overcame depression, thanks god for that breakdown)
- crying uncontrollably on my first trip to Greece
- the "feeling unwell" before another trip to Greece
- the "feeling unwell" when I arrived in Austria, spent the weekend in bed
- leaving work and going to the doctor at least 3 times in the previous years complaining of dizziness.
and ...the past 9 months deserve special mention:
- Dec: stressed out like the craziest woman, had the worst birthday of my life
- Jan: biggest, meanest flu
- Feb: travelled to Australia, did not sleep enough to recover, went up and down non-stop, flew back 12 days later
- Mar: arrived in London one day, travelled to France for work literally the next day. Various days of very bad health ensued. Arrived back in London with health issues, slept 2 days in a row.
- Apr, May, Jun : went to France twice a month, bad health at every trip
- Jul: that's when the vomiting started. Spent a weekend in Amsterdam with the worst stomach pain. Went straight to France from there. Next day I arrived in the office in France, went to the bathroom and cried. I could not go on like this, I just couldn't. Aborted the trip, took the train back to London and was off sick for 2 days. Went back to work on the third day. Had to go back home and sleep afterwards.
- A week later: got dumped. Heartbreak. Arrived in the office and could not stop crying. Had to take a day off, spent all day crying. Finally, I stopped.



Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 19, 2019, 07:24:37 AM
Y'know those athletes in movies who have serious injuries or concussions and the team doctor tells them they simply cannot play anymore, but they beg them to give them a cortisone shot or clear them for play even though the MD knows that they're risking their career/health/life, and the whole audience is screaming in their heads "OMG you idiot! It's not worth it! Don't do it! Don't be such a stupid fucking cliche!" and the athlete does it and there are devastating consequences for them???

Yeah...that's you.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 19, 2019, 07:28:35 AM
Be warned, it's not super fun to change gears and get back into thriving mode. I can't tell you how fucking frustrating it can be once you learn what your actual healthy limits are, how little you can actually handle while still thriving. It can feel like voluntarily giving up a super power.

But guess what, you are actually weak. You aren't tough enough to do what you have been doing. You do have limits.
There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing shameful in that. We are all fundamentally weak because we are human, and humans all have physical and psychological limitations well below what we can temporarily survive.

It's not admirable to push your mind and body further than it's fragile little limits can take. It IS admirable to learn what those limits are and build a sustainable life within them.
Say that again. And louder. "It is not super fun to change gears".
I can now see how my thinking went: Physically, I feel crap. Rest the entire weekend. Still feeling crap.
Option A) Grind teeth and get something done the next day.
Option B) Rest that day.
Both options will have the same result => still feeling crap.
So I might as well get something done and enjoy those rewards. That is because I needed a freaking 6 months rest, I needed to freaking fully accept myself/my life and stop bullying myself. I needed to accept help and love and care.

Now I see the two modes: surviving and thriving. On survival mode, you get loads and loads of stuff done. But that's for an emergency. You get a lot done and you pay a high price/use a lot of resources. Sometimes that is necessary.  I put myself on survival mode when I was 18 (I was shocked to learn that many LGBT teenagers are kicked out of the house when they come out to their parents - one day they're a kid, next day they're homeless, yet I was kicked out at 18 because I was sexually active) and adapted to that model as an everyday approach. It's been 12 years.

I have scaled down for the past 5 weeks. I'm giving away my sexy catwoman suit, my wonder woman cape and giving up my superpowers. As this weekend shows, re-calibrating your limit meter takes time, takes conscious choices, takes going against the more productive route.
But whatever, my friends are supportive, understanding and will do whatever to help me. (after they did all that when I was going through depression, I think I got them for life).
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on August 19, 2019, 07:43:09 AM
Say that again. And louder. "It is not super fun to change gears".
I can now see how my thinking went: Physically, I feel crap. Rest the entire weekend. Still feeling crap.
Option A) Grind teeth and get something done the next day.
Option B) Rest that day.
Both options will have the same result => still feeling crap.
So I might as well get something done and enjoy those rewards. That is because I needed a freaking 6 months rest, I needed to freaking fully accept myself/my life and stop bullying myself. I needed to accept help and love and care.

Yes. Your body has been crying out for years. I totally understand how easy it is for those of us with Type A personalities to ignore our bodies because weíre addicted to the activity and validation and challenge and have an innate need to avoid failure/laziness at all costs. Itís so hard to break that pattern. Even years after a career change (for health reasons because of burnout) and downshift, I still catch myself falling back into familiar validation- and achievement-seeking patterns.

The good thing about our personality type is that weíre willing to learn and practice new skills so that we can succeed at them. The bad thing is that we are very prone to letting other people tell us what things we must learn rather than choosing what is best for us. Itís a hard process to learn to trust oneís own body and instincts. Be as kind and patient and compassionate to yourself as you would be to someone else going through this (I know, I know, easier said than done).
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Raenia on August 19, 2019, 07:58:27 AM
I just want to thank you all for talking about this.  I'm not burned out (YET) but enough of what you're saying is resonating that I think I need to take some preemptive steps to decrease my load, because if I'm getting anything from this, the feelings of tiredness and overload are only going to get worse.  I was viewing these symptoms as temporary hurdles, but now I see they are more likely a pattern, and only going to grow if I don't stop the cycle now.  Being more productive is not the answer!  It will be hard, as I've always had a drive to be productive, but I realize I need to do fewer things well, rather than more things at all costs.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 19, 2019, 08:09:06 AM
A really important thing to note that I'm seeing in response to some of my content is a focus on the physical manifestations of burnout.

Yes, I have emphasized the physical aspects of burnout, but that's only because they're overwhelming and downright alarming in this case. However, there's a distinct bias in our culture that the physical injury is valid, while the psychological injury is somehow not as important. As if the physical toll justifies action, but the mental anguish is difficult to justify doing anything about.

That's just absolute nonsense.
If the reason to maximize physical health is to be able to enjoy life as much as possible, then neglecting mental health is even more damaging to that goal.

Speaking as someone who deals with chronic, serious, and very painful health issues, I would take a lot more physical issues over increased mental issues any day. Of course, the two don't exist in a vacuum, they are continuations of one another, so even conceptualizing them as separate is utterly ridiculous.

How you feel is how you feel, and if you don't feel okay, you are not okay. Period.
Some suffering can be alleviated through lifestyle, and some can't, but you should be extremely wary about life choices that voluntarily increase suffering.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 19, 2019, 08:19:53 AM
I just want to thank you all for talking about this.  I'm not burned out (YET) but enough of what you're saying is resonating that I think I need to take some preemptive steps to decrease my load, because if I'm getting anything from this, the feelings of tiredness and overload are only going to get worse.  I was viewing these symptoms as temporary hurdles, but now I see they are more likely a pattern, and only going to grow if I don't stop the cycle now.  Being more productive is not the answer!  It will be hard, as I've always had a drive to be productive, but I realize I need to do fewer things well, rather than more things at all costs.

That type of drive isn't who you are though, it's something you learned and something you choose to continue.

Look deep inside yourself as to who benefits from the outcomes of the things you work towards. Is it you? Do these behaviours fundamentally make your life healthier and happier? If not, then who are you doing this for, and why have you let them condition you to do it for them?

I'm a SUPER driven A-type personality too, but I'm taking a month off during the worst possible time at work to do so, while tremendously inconveniencing my boss and losing clout in doing so, and no, it's not a critical emergency that I take this time off either.
Why? Because my drive is ferociously directed towards my own well being. I aggressively protect my health and life balance. If I have to choose between prioritizing work or prioritizing down time, exercise, and sleep, you bet I'm going to choose whatever I need in order to feel my best.

Granted, it's taken me a few years to engineer my career in a way that I can do that with impunity, but that's how priorities work: you set them and work towards them. 3 years ago I hit the wall HARD, I cut back and got a new job at a 50% pay cut, and then spent 3 years working towards a life that worked optimally for me.

A good and healthy life does not come over night, but the commitment to it can.

We can all choose to take that A-type drive and put it towards living our best lives. It's not a matter of cutting back on drive or motivation, it's a matter of getting our heads out of our asses and directing that drive ourselves instead of letting society, bosses, family, whomever, define for us where our efforts should be going.

If you are working yourself into the ground and at the end it's costing you your health and happiness...who the fuck told you that was a good idea???? Why did you listen to them????
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on August 19, 2019, 08:33:08 AM
A really important thing to note that I'm seeing in response to some of my content is a focus on the physical manifestations of burnout.

Yes, I have emphasized the physical aspects of burnout, but that's only because they're overwhelming and downright alarming in this case. However, there's a distinct bias in our culture that the physical injury is valid, while the psychological injury is somehow not as important. As if the physical toll justifies action, but the mental anguish is difficult to justify doing anything about.

That's just absolute nonsense.
If the reason to maximize physical health is to be able to enjoy life as much as possible, then neglecting mental health is even more damaging to that goal.

Speaking as someone who deals with chronic, serious, and very painful health issues, I would take a lot more physical issues over increased mental issues any day. Of course, the two don't exist in a vacuum, they are continuations of one another, so even conceptualizing them as separate is utterly ridiculous.

How you feel is how you feel, and if you don't feel okay, you are not okay. Period.
Some suffering can be alleviated through lifestyle, and some can't, but you should be extremely wary about life choices that voluntarily increase suffering.

I think itís more that some of us donít realize how bad the mental health has gotten until the physical symptoms kick in and force a slowdown. I donít think we can be blamed for not recognizing the mental symptoms if we grew up in a Type A-rewarding society and were never even taught about mental health. My dad regularly worked 60+ hours per week when I was growing up. At 68, my mom still regularly works 45-50 hour weeks. It was my norm.

I was an academic biomedical scientist in my former life. I lived in that bubble for more than a decade. The only visible path to success (i.e., tenure) was to work 60-80 hours per week and run oneself ragged. The junior faculty member across the hall ended up hospitalized for heart palpitations (from stress) when I was in grad school. One of my classmates developed shingles at age 25 (stress). Another ended up hospitalized with gastritis (stress), and a third with severe vitamin D deficiency (poor diet, lack of sun exposure due to long lab days). Although my celiac disease kicked in at the beginning of PhD year 4, I didnít get really worried and consider slowing down until postdoc, when I was hit with an unexplained bout of rectal bleeding and a subsequent bout of pertussis (which was awful and I absolutely understand how kids die from it, and yes, I had been vaccinated).

Yeah, I wasnít sleeping by the end. My post doc advisor recommended that I take sleeping pills because it was the only way that she could sleep. I was anxious all the time, but so was everyone else around me. One good grad school friend was on three separate meds for anxiety. The anxiety and stress were accepted as normal. You learned quickly not to even talk about them except with close friends (and only at the peer level) because it would make you look weak. The physical symptoms were what the culture accepted as problematic.

The culture sucks. No question. I donít think the answer is to blame people for not paying more attention to mental health when it is not even obvious to us that those symptoms are abnormal.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Raenia on August 19, 2019, 08:38:50 AM
I just want to thank you all for talking about this.  I'm not burned out (YET) but enough of what you're saying is resonating that I think I need to take some preemptive steps to decrease my load, because if I'm getting anything from this, the feelings of tiredness and overload are only going to get worse.  I was viewing these symptoms as temporary hurdles, but now I see they are more likely a pattern, and only going to grow if I don't stop the cycle now.  Being more productive is not the answer!  It will be hard, as I've always had a drive to be productive, but I realize I need to do fewer things well, rather than more things at all costs.

That type of drive isn't who you are though, it's something you learned and something you choose to continue.

Look deep inside yourself as to who benefits from the outcomes of the things you work towards. Is it you? Do these behaviours fundamentally make your life healthier and happier? If not, then who are you doing this for, and why have you let them condition you to do it for them?

I'm a SUPER driven A-type personality too, but I'm taking a month off during the worst possible time at work to do so, while tremendously inconveniencing my boss and losing clout in doing so, and no, it's not a critical emergency that I take this time off either.
Why? Because my drive is ferociously directed towards my own well being. I aggressively protect my health and life balance. If I have to choose between prioritizing work or prioritizing down time, exercise, and sleep, you bet I'm going to choose whatever I need in order to feel my best.

Granted, it's taken me a few years to engineer my career in a way that I can do that with impunity, but that's how priorities work: you set them and work towards them. 3 years ago I hit the wall HARD, I cut back and got a new job at a 50% pay cut, and then spent 3 years working towards a life that worked optimally for me.

A good and healthy life does not come over night, but the commitment to it can.

We can all choose to take that A-type drive and put it towards living our best lives. It's not a matter of cutting back on drive or motivation, it's a matter of getting our heads out of our asses and directing that drive ourselves instead of letting society, bosses, family, whomever, define for us where our efforts should be going.

If you are working yourself into the ground and at the end it's costing you your health and happiness...who the fuck told you that was a good idea???? Why did you listen to them????

Yes, this is exactly why it will be hard - it's something I learned very young, so now I have to rewire my brain, because it's been ME telling myself I can and should work harder, and obviously that's not going to work.  Redirecting that drive from external productivity to [internal] wellness is going to be a big change.  Totally necessary!  But difficult nonetheless.  But it should be much easier to start changing my behavior and rewiring my mind NOW, before it's become an emergency.

I've always been pretty good at prioritizing sleep - when that's slipped, it's mostly when DH is having a restless time and keeps me up or wakes me up accidentally.  Exercise, on the other hand, has always been the easiest thing to let go.  Normally I have tried to just add exercise onto my existing schedule, but obviously that doesn't work.  So I need to choose which other thing I am currently doing will be removed to make space.  And then do that same process for each additional self-care task that I need, until I don't feel overwhelmed anymore.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 19, 2019, 08:51:57 AM
I just want to thank you all for talking about this.  I'm not burned out (YET) but enough of what you're saying is resonating that I think I need to take some preemptive steps to decrease my load, because if I'm getting anything from this, the feelings of tiredness and overload are only going to get worse.  I was viewing these symptoms as temporary hurdles, but now I see they are more likely a pattern, and only going to grow if I don't stop the cycle now.  Being more productive is not the answer!  It will be hard, as I've always had a drive to be productive, but I realize I need to do fewer things well, rather than more things at all costs.

YES! Halle-fucking-lujah. I wish I'd had half your smarts like 8 years ago, instead I'm digging myself out of a hole I made with my own pigheadedness.
(Also I need to work on negative self-talk. Oh well, next project)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Raenia on August 19, 2019, 08:54:55 AM
I just want to thank you all for talking about this.  I'm not burned out (YET) but enough of what you're saying is resonating that I think I need to take some preemptive steps to decrease my load, because if I'm getting anything from this, the feelings of tiredness and overload are only going to get worse.  I was viewing these symptoms as temporary hurdles, but now I see they are more likely a pattern, and only going to grow if I don't stop the cycle now.  Being more productive is not the answer!  It will be hard, as I've always had a drive to be productive, but I realize I need to do fewer things well, rather than more things at all costs.

YES! Halle-fucking-lujah. I wish I'd had half your smarts like 8 years ago, instead I'm digging myself out of a hole I made with my own pigheadedness.
(Also I need to work on negative self-talk. Oh well, next project)

I wouldn't characterize it as smart, just having the right information in front of me at the right time.  How could you recognize you were overloaded when no one ever talked about it honestly?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 19, 2019, 09:34:37 AM
@brunetteUK I'm really worried that you're still working. Needing a 10 or 20 minute rest after a commute is NOT okay. You're pushing yourself too far. Can you get a doctor to clear you for sick leave? Or to clear you for working fewer hours?
*looks around the room*
Me?... sick ...leave? But...as in...me?
@Nederstash your comment made me actually consider seeing the doctor for burnout sick leave. I asked a friend about what companies ask for etc when you are off sick for more than a week and I feel reassured. I booked an appointment with my doctor.
I can't really believe I'm going to ask for sick leave. But I am so t.i.r.e.d at work.

[ ]

Let me see, you said "hit your limits years ago" and from the top of my head I can recall, in chronological order:
- the physical breakdown 4 years ago that kept in bed for 4 days
- the mental breakdown a month later, which led me to my doctor begging for a psychiatrist (therapy ensued, overcame depression, thanks god for that breakdown)
- crying uncontrollably on my first trip to Greece
- the "feeling unwell" before another trip to Greece
- the "feeling unwell" when I arrived in Austria, spent the weekend in bed
- leaving work and going to the doctor at least 3 times in the previous years complaining of dizziness.
and ...the past 9 months deserve special mention:
- Dec: stressed out like the craziest woman, had the worst birthday of my life
- Jan: biggest, meanest flu
- Feb: travelled to Australia, did not sleep enough to recover, went up and down non-stop, flew back 12 days later
- Mar: arrived in London one day, travelled to France for work literally the next day. Various days of very bad health ensued. Arrived back in London with health issues, slept 2 days in a row.
- Apr, May, Jun : went to France twice a month, bad health at every trip
- Jul: that's when the vomiting started. Spent a weekend in Amsterdam with the worst stomach pain. Went straight to France from there. Next day I arrived in the office in France, went to the bathroom and cried. I could not go on like this, I just couldn't. Aborted the trip, took the train back to London and was off sick for 2 days. Went back to work on the third day. Had to go back home and sleep afterwards.
- A week later: got dumped. Heartbreak. Arrived in the office and could not stop crying. Had to take a day off, spent all day crying. Finally, I stopped.

Thank God you booked an appointment with your doctor! I am so, so glad. I wish I could just give you the biggest hug. Can you bring a friend or relative with you? I had - still have - problems remembering stuff. Having a friend there just to listen to what the doctor says will help you! My doctor asked me (purely out of curiosity) when I thought I'd be able to work again. I said 3-4 weeks. She shook her head and said 'I hope to God that'll be true for you. But most likely, this'll take months'. It felt like such massive validation. My doctor is the best.

Seeing this massive list of stress-related issues you've had for years... you're like bad dough: you're overworked (feel free to read this in Paul Hollywood's voice). Holidays were always a trigger for me: first week, I'd be too highstrung and usually still working - even in a fucking onsen resort in Japan (oh, work calls me and it's 4AM in Japan? Well, I'm already awake now... better answer it! Then I fall asleep for an hour and an earthquake woke me up - true story). Second week would be flu/migraines/cold. And then I'd be back at work.

As for your kitchen cupboard mania... yeah, I completely understand. Even when you're finally home with a doctor's note and you get to rest... this will spring up from time to time. You get frustrated being sick and your body is still making adrenaline at VERY inopportune times. Your stress system is out of whack and it needs to heal. Just two days ago my stress system had a weird convulsion: I needed, needed to do yardwork. So there I was, pulling weeds at 11PM in the dark, using my phone as a flash light. Brains are weird, man.

I hope your doctor's visit goes well! If not, strongly consider asking a second opinion from a different doctor! I don't know if there's a legal right to a second opinion where you are but you can always ask. But I hope it won't be necessary!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 19, 2019, 10:05:16 AM
A really important thing to note that I'm seeing in response to some of my content is a focus on the physical manifestations of burnout.

Yes, I have emphasized the physical aspects of burnout, but that's only because they're overwhelming and downright alarming in this case. However, there's a distinct bias in our culture that the physical injury is valid, while the psychological injury is somehow not as important. As if the physical toll justifies action, but the mental anguish is difficult to justify doing anything about.

That's just absolute nonsense.
If the reason to maximize physical health is to be able to enjoy life as much as possible, then neglecting mental health is even more damaging to that goal.

Speaking as someone who deals with chronic, serious, and very painful health issues, I would take a lot more physical issues over increased mental issues any day. Of course, the two don't exist in a vacuum, they are continuations of one another, so even conceptualizing them as separate is utterly ridiculous.

How you feel is how you feel, and if you don't feel okay, you are not okay. Period.
Some suffering can be alleviated through lifestyle, and some can't, but you should be extremely wary about life choices that voluntarily increase suffering.

I think itís more that some of us donít realize how bad the mental health has gotten until the physical symptoms kick in and force a slowdown. I donít think we can be blamed for not recognizing the mental symptoms if we grew up in a Type A-rewarding society and were never even taught about mental health. My dad regularly worked 60+ hours per week when I was growing up. At 68, my mom still regularly works 45-50 hour weeks. It was my norm.

I was an academic biomedical scientist in my former life. I lived in that bubble for more than a decade. The only visible path to success (i.e., tenure) was to work 60-80 hours per week and run oneself ragged. The junior faculty member across the hall ended up hospitalized for heart palpitations (from stress) when I was in grad school. One of my classmates developed shingles at age 25 (stress). Another ended up hospitalized with gastritis (stress), and a third with severe vitamin D deficiency (poor diet, lack of sun exposure due to long lab days). Although my celiac disease kicked in at the beginning of PhD year 4, I didnít get really worried and consider slowing down until postdoc, when I was hit with an unexplained bout of rectal bleeding and a subsequent bout of pertussis (which was awful and I absolutely understand how kids die from it, and yes, I had been vaccinated).

Yeah, I wasnít sleeping by the end. My post doc advisor recommended that I take sleeping pills because it was the only way that she could sleep. I was anxious all the time, but so was everyone else around me. One good grad school friend was on three separate meds for anxiety. The anxiety and stress were accepted as normal. You learned quickly not to even talk about them except with close friends (and only at the peer level) because it would make you look weak. The physical symptoms were what the culture accepted as problematic.

The culture sucks. No question. I donít think the answer is to blame people for not paying more attention to mental health when it is not even obvious to us that those symptoms are abnormal.

No blaming and no criticism.
I was the exact same way in the exact same type of industry. It's specifically *because* we normalize psychological suffering, even praise it, that we are trained to downplay the importance of the mental health arm of overall health.

In this conversation though, it's critical to respect the damage to mental health as a valid reason in and of itself to take action and change things and to acknowledge that obvious physical symptoms aren't necessary in order for someone to feel entitled to need to take a break. Again, not an ounce of criticism or judgement in that statement.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 19, 2019, 10:09:00 AM
Sorry, forgot a few key things:

Tell your doctor your symptoms. Never go to the doctor with a homemade diagnosis. They're the professional, they get to diagnose. Explain what's been going on. Resting for 10 minutes after a commute because you're dizzy/tired. Crying after the slightest inconvenience. Unable to sleep or sleep too much. Getting ill when you have downtime. Heart constricting when the phone rings. Etc etc... I remember a public prosecutor saying in court: "Your honor, this man is guilty!" Judge replied in his driest voice: "I'll be the judge of that."

Tell your employer you're ill. You can even tell them it's stress related, if you want. Please refrain from over-explaining and giving them all your symptoms. No matter how nice your employer is, they still have a business to run and you might become expensive. They might start pushing you to increase your work sooner than you can handle. "Well, it's a headache, take some aspirin! You've had two weeks of rest!" No, just no. They don't need your symptoms. The doctor needs to know and the doctor will clear you for any work you can handle. Not you, not your manager. In short, inform your employer on a need-to-know basis. You have a right to privacy regarding your health.

Good luck!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Fish Sweet on August 19, 2019, 11:37:48 AM
Well, shit.  I'm also mid-burnout-- just starting to edge into occasional physical symptoms.  This thread and all its posters have been really great in pinpointing and putting to words both the feelings and internal motivators that have been driving me absolutely bugfuck bonkers for the last year or so... all the shit that I was only able to start acknowledging to myself less than a month ago.  I come home from work with a twelve item to-do list to complete, I map out my weekends by the hour by what I'll accomplish.  I have fleeting wistful thoughts about playing games, reading books that I never make time for.  When I do (occasionally) carve out some time for personal pleasures, I find myself constantly distracted, getting up to put cups away, wiping down the countertops, scrolling through social media.  I used to drink for pleasure, now I drink to relax (and I can't remember the last time I could REALLY relax.)  I can't focus, and I especially can't focus on doing stuff 'for me'.  I used to pop up early on weekends, excited to take on the day.  Now I sleep in, and by sleep in I mean lie in a haze while scrolling through twitter, berating myself for not getting started on my TDL.  And on and on. 

Recently, family, friend, and health issues have made my feeling of dread and exhaustion ten times worse... and about two weeks ago, I realized that I had to just... Stop.  Practice actual self care (not the kind marketed to burnt out people in the form of candles and manicures), by actually prioritizing the needs of this combo fleshsack and brainjar first.  Over money and FI, over work, and family pressures, and most importantly, over endlessly feeding the productivity machine I had envisioned myself to be.

It's not going all that well (hey, do you want the itemized list of the things i "accomplished" list week?  It's very important to me that I keep such a list, you see) but it is going.  I'm working on it, day by day.

The thought of giving up that idealistic vision of myself is fucking awful.  It IS like a superpower, and the feeling of being able to get everything done every day is absolutely addictive.  I love feeling like I GOT THIS; I'm in control of my life, the captain of my own ship and my own fate; I can do anything and everything if I only stopped putzing around and put my mind to it, etc.etc.  Which isn't true, of course, but it's a good story to tell myself while internally trying to crack the whip, and get my exhausted mind to keep chugging along at an unsustainable speed.

Only the thought of going on as I am is worse, of living another year, three years, ten years like this: never satisfied, never happy, only productive.  Or tying up all my self worth to this impossible ideal of myself and hitting the wall going 200mph... yeah, I don't want that to happen.  And the wall coming up over the horizon.

So not a lot in the way of advice, but deep DEEP commiseration for everyone here.  I truly appreciate this thread and everyone who's chimed in with their thoughts and personal experiences.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: BlueHouse on August 19, 2019, 11:56:17 AM
Start planning a fantastic vacation.  Then take it.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 19, 2019, 12:30:45 PM
Gosh, there were so many good posts in here that I read this morning that I lost track, and cannot even figure out how to respond to all of them.  For sure, I see that burnout is more of a risk to me when I get older.  And to my husband.  But I cannot fix him.  HE has to decide to not burn himself out.  He was at work until 12:45 am.  Ahem.

The physical symptoms are super hard because you are already well down the path.  One of the ways that I've been dealing with my stress is exercise - specifically running.  I don't love running.  I'm not built like a runner.  But it burns off stress.  Lately though, it's been a struggle due to wearout.  Just...hips, back, hamstrings.  I am finding that in order to run, and get faster (there's that Type-A thing again), I am having to carefully craft my life.  The right amount of foam rolling and stretching.  Eat certain foods at certain times.  Think about giving up coffee - I have been plagued with digestive issues for a couple of years.  Mostly gluten but there are other things too (prob stress).  I spent 2 weeks on vacation in Copenhagen with almost ZERO digestive issues.  Yet back here, I have issues.  The food?  The stress? Ugh, I just want to run a 10k without suffering the rest of the day.

Many folks at my office are into the burnout phase - especially the older ones - I can feel it myself at 49, and it hits harder and earlier for older folks.  I have been working at home a lot this summer because it decreases my interaction with difficult people.  Because everyone is so stressed!

Quote
Society idiotically practically worships suffering and sacrifice as virtuous, which is fundamentally unhealthy, but it is what it is.
People admire the marathon runner for the hell they put themselves through even though the actual feat isn't productive, how fucked up is that???

Yup.  You just described my entire family of siblings.

Edited to add: I actually had some time to chat with my spouse this weekend.  That never happens.  I expressed frustration about my physical abilities - as I age, with stress - I just can't DO things that I used to be able to do, or that others can do.  I seem to surround myself with "more" - faster runners, stronger weightlifters, etc.  Which makes me feel like I suck. And it's sort of exhausting navigating everything.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 19, 2019, 01:25:23 PM
Gosh, there were so many good posts in here that I read this morning that I lost track, and cannot even figure out how to respond to all of them.  For sure, I see that burnout is more of a risk to me when I get older.  And to my husband.  But I cannot fix him.  HE has to decide to not burn himself out.  He was at work until 12:45 am.  Ahem.

The physical symptoms are super hard because you are already well down the path.  One of the ways that I've been dealing with my stress is exercise - specifically running.  I don't love running.  I'm not built like a runner.  But it burns off stress.  Lately though, it's been a struggle due to wearout.  Just...hips, back, hamstrings.  I am finding that in order to run, and get faster (there's that Type-A thing again), I am having to carefully craft my life.  The right amount of foam rolling and stretching.  Eat certain foods at certain times.  Think about giving up coffee - I have been plagued with digestive issues for a couple of years.  Mostly gluten but there are other things too (prob stress).  I spent 2 weeks on vacation in Copenhagen with almost ZERO digestive issues.  Yet back here, I have issues.  The food?  The stress? Ugh, I just want to run a 10k without suffering the rest of the day.

Many folks at my office are into the burnout phase - especially the older ones - I can feel it myself at 49, and it hits harder and earlier for older folks.  I have been working at home a lot this summer because it decreases my interaction with difficult people.  Because everyone is so stressed!

Quote
Society idiotically practically worships suffering and sacrifice as virtuous, which is fundamentally unhealthy, but it is what it is.
People admire the marathon runner for the hell they put themselves through even though the actual feat isn't productive, how fucked up is that???

Yup.  You just described my entire family of siblings.

Edited to add: I actually had some time to chat with my spouse this weekend.  That never happens.  I expressed frustration about my physical abilities - as I age, with stress - I just can't DO things that I used to be able to do, or that others can do.  I seem to surround myself with "more" - faster runners, stronger weightlifters, etc.  Which makes me feel like I suck. And it's sort of exhausting navigating everything.

Skip a workout and just take a nice stroll with your husband. Not a hike, not a run. A stroll. Maybe an hour or so. Talk about random shit, no heavy stuff. Just BE for a bit. My therapist told me last week: you need to learn to accept the discomfort of not doing something perfectly.
 
(I'm talking here like I have all the answers, lol. I really don't. All of the good bits come from friends and my therapist!)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: swashbucklinstache on August 19, 2019, 02:26:24 PM
But it was like watching someone else from a separate dimension. I could see my hands cleaning the bathroom sink or cleaning out cupboards at 9pm and I could not stop it. Woman, what are you doing? I don't know, I can't actually stop myself.

It's very possible this is just a matter of a phrasing on your part for emphasis, but please don't ignore this. Talk to your doctor and include this in a list of symptoms you're experiencing. I am not a doctor and I'm not suggesting this is happening for you, but meant as an example of a new mental feeling for you that might be representative of a real, identifiable illness caused by being stressed: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depersonalization-derealization-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352911

Not that you have a shortage of other symptoms to discuss with the Dr.!

Good luck too, of course. We're all rooting for ya.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Tris Prior on August 20, 2019, 11:50:29 AM
I'm legit tearing up as I read this thread and I'm so glad this stuff is being discussed. I had, until recently, a family member in my life who is very much suck-it-up, someone else has it worse so what are you complaining about, think about someone else for a change, you're not sick or elderly or being abused or living in poverty so what on earth do you have to get stressed about, etc. I've since cut that person off but I'm having a hard time getting past that mentality.

One example - this weekend I did an art show (my side hustle). I was in a tent all day both days - in the heat and during some truly terrifying storms - and just the physical act of setting up and tearing down is physically very difficult and exhausting. So I decided to take yesterday off at my day job to recover. My "recovery" day ended up being me running a ton of errands that I couldn't do over the weekend - some of which were correcting Boyfriend's errors (I'd asked him to do the grocery shop but he failed to bring home some things I needed and in one case bought the wrong thing), repairing the storm damage in both of my gardens out in the humidity and heat, and then I spent 4 hours canning salsa because my huge pile of garden tomatoes was about to spoil. And I'm wondering why I don't feel rejuvenated?

Meanwhile I'm beating myself up because yesterday I didn't get to the laundry and I didn't spend enough time with the cats and I didn't do much cleaning. My landlord is coming in tomorrow to do a kitchen repair and my kitchen is absolutely disgusting and I'm embarrassed to have him see it like that. So tonight - after staying late at work because in my absence my boss took away all my helpers and put them on another crisis - I get to stay up late scrubbing. As an added bonus, I have a houseguest this weekend who is extremely vocally critical of my housekeeping skills - she's right, I am just not a good cleaner - so the whole rest of the week when I am not at work needs to be spent scrubbing things.

How do you all let go of stuff like this without feeling like a failure? For me it's less about being type A, though I have tendencies in that direction, and more about, isn't this just basic adulting? Managing to get the errands run and clean enough so that your apartment isn't disgusting and you're not repelling your houseguests, while still holding down a job and meeting your financial obligations and saving enough?

Meanwhile, over in my journal I just floated the idea of getting a second job because I'm not able to max out my retirement accounts and still cover bills/normal spending on my current salary plus side hustle earnings. And everyone told me, rightfully so, that that would be batshit insane, echoing what Boyfriend and my therapist told me. It is proving to be HARD to shake the "you're not doing enough" mentality, and part of me feels that I'll never stop feeling burnt out until I'm able to retire, which I can't do because I can't save enough, so I should increase income, round and round we go. Ugh.

Well, that was something of a hijack but I'm glad that we are all talking about this. And that it is not just me.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Raenia on August 20, 2019, 12:58:53 PM
I'm legit tearing up as I read this thread and I'm so glad this stuff is being discussed. I had, until recently, a family member in my life who is very much suck-it-up, someone else has it worse so what are you complaining about, think about someone else for a change, you're not sick or elderly or being abused or living in poverty so what on earth do you have to get stressed about, etc. I've since cut that person off but I'm having a hard time getting past that mentality.

One example - this weekend I did an art show (my side hustle). I was in a tent all day both days - in the heat and during some truly terrifying storms - and just the physical act of setting up and tearing down is physically very difficult and exhausting. So I decided to take yesterday off at my day job to recover. My "recovery" day ended up being me running a ton of errands that I couldn't do over the weekend - some of which were correcting Boyfriend's errors (I'd asked him to do the grocery shop but he failed to bring home some things I needed and in one case bought the wrong thing), repairing the storm damage in both of my gardens out in the humidity and heat, and then I spent 4 hours canning salsa because my huge pile of garden tomatoes was about to spoil. And I'm wondering why I don't feel rejuvenated?

Meanwhile I'm beating myself up because yesterday I didn't get to the laundry and I didn't spend enough time with the cats and I didn't do much cleaning. My landlord is coming in tomorrow to do a kitchen repair and my kitchen is absolutely disgusting and I'm embarrassed to have him see it like that. So tonight - after staying late at work because in my absence my boss took away all my helpers and put them on another crisis - I get to stay up late scrubbing. As an added bonus, I have a houseguest this weekend who is extremely vocally critical of my housekeeping skills - she's right, I am just not a good cleaner - so the whole rest of the week when I am not at work needs to be spent scrubbing things.

How do you all let go of stuff like this without feeling like a failure? For me it's less about being type A, though I have tendencies in that direction, and more about, isn't this just basic adulting? Managing to get the errands run and clean enough so that your apartment isn't disgusting and you're not repelling your houseguests, while still holding down a job and meeting your financial obligations and saving enough?

Meanwhile, over in my journal I just floated the idea of getting a second job because I'm not able to max out my retirement accounts and still cover bills/normal spending on my current salary plus side hustle earnings. And everyone told me, rightfully so, that that would be batshit insane, echoing what Boyfriend and my therapist told me. It is proving to be HARD to shake the "you're not doing enough" mentality, and part of me feels that I'll never stop feeling burnt out until I'm able to retire, which I can't do because I can't save enough, so I should increase income, round and round we go. Ugh.

Well, that was something of a hijack but I'm glad that we are all talking about this. And that it is not just me.

Honestly?  I would start by uninviting that houseguest, because she sounds like a terrible guest.  A guest in your house should be grateful, not critical, no matter what the house looks like when they arrive.  Deep cleaning is not that important, your feelings and ability to rest are more important.

Secondly, DO NOT add more things to your plate right now.  A second job or new side hustle is only going to hurt, right now.  You do what you CAN, there is no "Enough."  "Enough" has a habit of expanding to always be one more thing than you're currently doing, until you collapse.

Can your boyfriend help out more with cleaning and errands?  I don't know what your situation is or how established the relationship is.  Anything you can take off your plate is a good thing.  Most importantly, when you take these things off your schedule, DO NOT replace them.  The space where you used to do dishes (or whatever) should be replaced with quiet time, maybe playing with your cats or taking a walk.  NOT work.

We all have to start somewhere.

As for how to let these things go without feeling like a failure, I can only suggest that you think about a few generations ago, where this amount of work would have been handled by two whole people - one to go out and work, come home and just relax, and one to handle cooking and cleaning and errands, and not work outside the home.  Because managing a home is a full time job!  It sounds like you are essentially working 2.5 jobs between home, work, and side hustle.  That's pretty impressive!  You should hardly be ashamed of not being able to keep that many balls in the air with no help.  The only thing you can do to stop dropping balls, is to juggle fewer balls in the first place.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Tris Prior on August 20, 2019, 01:14:55 PM

Exercise, on the other hand, has always been the easiest thing to let go.  Normally I have tried to just add exercise onto my existing schedule, but obviously that doesn't work.  So I need to choose which other thing I am currently doing will be removed to make space.  And then do that same process for each additional self-care task that I need, until I don't feel overwhelmed anymore.

This is so true. When I started feeling really overwhelmed earlier this summer I felt that the only thing that could really be pruned from my schedule is my weekly dance class. And I'm still feeling overwhelmed! My problem is, what else to remove? Lately, I've been removing cleaning and household chores (other than bare minimum like cleaning cat boxes and keeping the dishes clean and out of the sink so that the cats don't lick them or take silverware and go running through the house with it in their mouths, I wish I were kidding but that is what happens!), but look where that left me, having to now spend this week emergency-cleaning so my landlord doesn't freak out and my houseguest doesn't spend the entire weekend shaming me because my floors feel gritty and my cabinets and fridge are sticky and the shower's gross!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 20, 2019, 01:25:07 PM
I'm legit tearing up as I read this thread and I'm so glad this stuff is being discussed. I had, until recently, a family member in my life who is very much suck-it-up, someone else has it worse so what are you complaining about, think about someone else for a change, you're not sick or elderly or being abused or living in poverty so what on earth do you have to get stressed about, etc. I've since cut that person off but I'm having a hard time getting past that mentality.

One example - this weekend I did an art show (my side hustle). I was in a tent all day both days - in the heat and during some truly terrifying storms - and just the physical act of setting up and tearing down is physically very difficult and exhausting. So I decided to take yesterday off at my day job to recover. My "recovery" day ended up being me running a ton of errands that I couldn't do over the weekend - some of which were correcting Boyfriend's errors (I'd asked him to do the grocery shop but he failed to bring home some things I needed and in one case bought the wrong thing), repairing the storm damage in both of my gardens out in the humidity and heat, and then I spent 4 hours canning salsa because my huge pile of garden tomatoes was about to spoil. And I'm wondering why I don't feel rejuvenated?

Meanwhile I'm beating myself up because yesterday I didn't get to the laundry and I didn't spend enough time with the cats and I didn't do much cleaning. My landlord is coming in tomorrow to do a kitchen repair and my kitchen is absolutely disgusting and I'm embarrassed to have him see it like that. So tonight - after staying late at work because in my absence my boss took away all my helpers and put them on another crisis - I get to stay up late scrubbing. As an added bonus, I have a houseguest this weekend who is extremely vocally critical of my housekeeping skills - she's right, I am just not a good cleaner - so the whole rest of the week when I am not at work needs to be spent scrubbing things.

How do you all let go of stuff like this without feeling like a failure? For me it's less about being type A, though I have tendencies in that direction, and more about, isn't this just basic adulting? Managing to get the errands run and clean enough so that your apartment isn't disgusting and you're not repelling your houseguests, while still holding down a job and meeting your financial obligations and saving enough?

Meanwhile, over in my journal I just floated the idea of getting a second job because I'm not able to max out my retirement accounts and still cover bills/normal spending on my current salary plus side hustle earnings. And everyone told me, rightfully so, that that would be batshit insane, echoing what Boyfriend and my therapist told me. It is proving to be HARD to shake the "you're not doing enough" mentality, and part of me feels that I'll never stop feeling burnt out until I'm able to retire, which I can't do because I can't save enough, so I should increase income, round and round we go. Ugh.

Well, that was something of a hijack but I'm glad that we are all talking about this. And that it is not just me.

It starts with accepting that basic adulting is essentially a full time job as it is.

I only work 2-3 days a week and everyone constantly asks me what I do with all of my free time, and I look at them like they have three heads, because just existing in a functional way takes up, like, ALL OF MY TIME!

I usually reply with "well, you know that long list of things you should do, but don't have time for? Yeah, mine's done"

It takes A LOT of time to sleep properly, eat properly, shop and cook, exercise, clean, stay on top of paperwork, stay on top of house maintenance and improvement, stay in contact with friends and family, meditate, go to medical appointments, maintain hobbies, pursue constant self-enrichment and learning, be involved in your community, volunteer, vote in all levels of government while staying up on the relevant voting matters in order to be a responsible agent of democracy, foster romance with your partner, keep yourself well manicured, keep your pets well manicured, and I'm not even going to touch on everything to do with kids!

Trust me, as someone who is currently on a month of leave, just living well takes up most of the day, and even then it's easy to fall behind. It's only once I realized that that I finally took the pressure off of myself to always do more, and to start being exceedingly wary of taking on more work, as I *know* that I have *just enough* resources to live really well and work just a little bit. Any increase on the work front, and something on the wellness front has to give.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Tris Prior on August 20, 2019, 02:05:22 PM

It starts with accepting that basic adulting is essentially a full time job as it is.


I agree with you, and it SUCKS! I do not want my life to be get up, go to work, come home, do chores, sleep. And on weekends, get up early, run around like a crazy person doing the errands that I can't do after work, do more chores, sleep. (And that's not even getting into time spent correcting others' mistakes; a couple of recent examples for me were tracking down misdelivered packages and trying to figure out why my dentist was billing me way more for my broken tooth than the insurance said I owed.) If I were actually on top of everything that needs to get done, that is what my life would look like. No time for Boyfriend, for friends, for volunteering, for social activity, for anything that I find fun or relaxing or calming.

A lot of people tell me I should simplify my life by quitting gardening, but growing my own food is really important to me and part of me thinks, really, I have to give up something that I really enjoy so that I can instead scrub the toilet and vacuum more frequently and cook more (I LOATHE cooking)? I find that incredibly depressing, to be honest. That doesn't feel like living. That feels like drudgery.

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 20, 2019, 02:56:23 PM

Exercise, on the other hand, has always been the easiest thing to let go.  Normally I have tried to just add exercise onto my existing schedule, but obviously that doesn't work.  So I need to choose which other thing I am currently doing will be removed to make space.  And then do that same process for each additional self-care task that I need, until I don't feel overwhelmed anymore.

This is so true. When I started feeling really overwhelmed earlier this summer I felt that the only thing that could really be pruned from my schedule is my weekly dance class. And I'm still feeling overwhelmed! My problem is, what else to remove? Lately, I've been removing cleaning and household chores (other than bare minimum like cleaning cat boxes and keeping the dishes clean and out of the sink so that the cats don't lick them or take silverware and go running through the house with it in their mouths, I wish I were kidding but that is what happens!), but look where that left me, having to now spend this week emergency-cleaning so my landlord doesn't freak out and my houseguest doesn't spend the entire weekend shaming me because my floors feel gritty and my cabinets and fridge are sticky and the shower's gross!

Ahem.  You can pry my house cleaner (she/they come every 2 weeks) out of my cold, dead hands.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on August 20, 2019, 05:53:16 PM

Exercise, on the other hand, has always been the easiest thing to let go.  Normally I have tried to just add exercise onto my existing schedule, but obviously that doesn't work.  So I need to choose which other thing I am currently doing will be removed to make space.  And then do that same process for each additional self-care task that I need, until I don't feel overwhelmed anymore.

This is so true. When I started feeling really overwhelmed earlier this summer I felt that the only thing that could really be pruned from my schedule is my weekly dance class. And I'm still feeling overwhelmed! My problem is, what else to remove? Lately, I've been removing cleaning and household chores (other than bare minimum like cleaning cat boxes and keeping the dishes clean and out of the sink so that the cats don't lick them or take silverware and go running through the house with it in their mouths, I wish I were kidding but that is what happens!), but look where that left me, having to now spend this week emergency-cleaning so my landlord doesn't freak out and my houseguest doesn't spend the entire weekend shaming me because my floors feel gritty and my cabinets and fridge are sticky and the shower's gross!

Yeah, your houseguest needs to not be a houseguest. Recommend a good hotel and suggest that she book a room.  Or suggest that she help bring it up to her standards, since you're helping her avoid a room fee.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Tris Prior on August 20, 2019, 06:21:21 PM
Ahem.  You can pry my house cleaner (she/they come every 2 weeks) out of my cold, dead hands.

I floated that idea past Boyfriend and he said absolutely not. He's uncomfortable with strangers in our apartment touching our stuff. I told him I'd schedule it on the 1 day a week I WFH but he's still uncomfortable. Honestly, we really can't afford it anyway.


Yeah, your houseguest needs to not be a houseguest. Recommend a good hotel and suggest that she book a room.  Or suggest that she help bring it up to her standards, since you're helping her avoid a room fee.

That's what everyone tells me to do but I feel uncomfortable with that because she lets us stay with her for free all the time in her city. In her house that is pristine and never has any pet hair in it despite her having twice as many pets as we do. This is Boyfriend's best friend and he doesn't want to turn her away. He thinks I should just tell her to F off when she criticizes me (this only happens when he is out of earshot, and no, she does not think the condition of our apartment has anything to do with Boyfriend's cleaning abilities or lack thereof because he is male). I just find it hard because she's right, I am a shitty housekeeper. It just hurts to have it pointed out to me, you know?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Raenia on August 20, 2019, 06:40:49 PM
Ahem.  You can pry my house cleaner (she/they come every 2 weeks) out of my cold, dead hands.

I floated that idea past Boyfriend and he said absolutely not. He's uncomfortable with strangers in our apartment touching our stuff. I told him I'd schedule it on the 1 day a week I WFH but he's still uncomfortable. Honestly, we really can't afford it anyway.


Yeah, your houseguest needs to not be a houseguest. Recommend a good hotel and suggest that she book a room.  Or suggest that she help bring it up to her standards, since you're helping her avoid a room fee.

That's what everyone tells me to do but I feel uncomfortable with that because she lets us stay with her for free all the time in her city. In her house that is pristine and never has any pet hair in it despite her having twice as many pets as we do. This is Boyfriend's best friend and he doesn't want to turn her away. He thinks I should just tell her to F off when she criticizes me (this only happens when he is out of earshot, and no, she does not think the condition of our apartment has anything to do with Boyfriend's cleaning abilities or lack thereof because he is male). I just find it hard because she's right, I am a shitty housekeeper. It just hurts to have it pointed out to me, you know?

If BF is the one who insists on hosting her, why isn't he the one scrubbing down the floors?  If he gets to invite her to stay, he gets to share the chores to get ready.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 20, 2019, 07:46:46 PM
Ahem.  You can pry my house cleaner (she/they come every 2 weeks) out of my cold, dead hands.

I floated that idea past Boyfriend and he said absolutely not. He's uncomfortable with strangers in our apartment touching our stuff. I told him I'd schedule it on the 1 day a week I WFH but he's still uncomfortable. Honestly, we really can't afford it anyway.


Yeah, your houseguest needs to not be a houseguest. Recommend a good hotel and suggest that she book a room.  Or suggest that she help bring it up to her standards, since you're helping her avoid a room fee.

That's what everyone tells me to do but I feel uncomfortable with that because she lets us stay with her for free all the time in her city. In her house that is pristine and never has any pet hair in it despite her having twice as many pets as we do. This is Boyfriend's best friend and he doesn't want to turn her away. He thinks I should just tell her to F off when she criticizes me (this only happens when he is out of earshot, and no, she does not think the condition of our apartment has anything to do with Boyfriend's cleaning abilities or lack thereof because he is male). I just find it hard because she's right, I am a shitty housekeeper. It just hurts to have it pointed out to me, you know?

If someone staying at mine pointed out that I'm a shitty housekeeper (which I am), I'd be suggesting that maybe they take that over or stfu. Meanwhile, who the hell care if you're a shitty housekeeper? Better things to do, better places to be and no one has died yet, right???
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: okisok on August 20, 2019, 10:17:57 PM
I've gotten so much out of this thread in the few days since I discovered it. There are too many insightful, delightful, helpful tips to give credit, so just assume that I've quoted nearly everything written here so far.

I've spend the last few days really deep thinking about what I want and need (something I haven't been encouraged to think about, nor seen many examples of in my life). My neck finally quit hurting, I've slept better, and I've let go of some things at work. I left at 4:30 today to come home and take a nap! No explanations, no notifications, just said "see you tomorrow!" to the receptionist and sailed on out the door.

Instead of cancelling plans with a friend because WORK, I went to her house and we drank wine and worked on our hobby together. We vented and chatted and had a great time.
I've made a point of spending time with my dog in the morning, actually petting her and walking her, having nonsense conversations in a high-pitched voice because that's how I talk to animals (don't you??). Before, I'd rush her and tell her to hurry up and pee, for chrissakes, so I could get to work on time. Please note that I do NOT have a set work time--I was putting that pressure on myself.   That's a whole thread right there.

Thanks again to everyone who's posted here, for all of your kindness and deep thoughts.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Loretta on August 21, 2019, 04:47:33 AM
@brunetteUK , you and this thread inspired me to call up an old doctorís office I used to visit, and I go Friday for lab work. 
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 21, 2019, 06:14:55 AM
I've gotten so much out of this thread in the few days since I discovered it. There are too many insightful, delightful, helpful tips to give credit, so just assume that I've quoted nearly everything written here so far.

I've spend the last few days really deep thinking about what I want and need (something I haven't been encouraged to think about, nor seen many examples of in my life). My neck finally quit hurting, I've slept better, and I've let go of some things at work. I left at 4:30 today to come home and take a nap! No explanations, no notifications, just said "see you tomorrow!" to the receptionist and sailed on out the door.

Instead of cancelling plans with a friend because WORK, I went to her house and we drank wine and worked on our hobby together. We vented and chatted and had a great time.
I've made a point of spending time with my dog in the morning, actually petting her and walking her, having nonsense conversations in a high-pitched voice because that's how I talk to animals (don't you??). Before, I'd rush her and tell her to hurry up and pee, for chrissakes, so I could get to work on time. Please note that I do NOT have a set work time--I was putting that pressure on myself.   That's a whole thread right there.

Thanks again to everyone who's posted here, for all of your kindness and deep thoughts.

Ever taken your dog for a dog-centered walk? This is where you stop whenever and for however long they want to sniff, and you let them decide where to go at each corner. Your job is to hold the lead, pick up poop, and supervise road crossings. Otherwise it's all on them. It's hilarious where you end up.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: magnet18 on August 21, 2019, 06:27:21 AM
So sorry for what you're going through, just know that it can happen to the best of us.  Einstein himself got burned out and then put significant thought into the topic if you're curious what he had to say.  I know a guy at work who, after his phd, essentially spent a year sitting on the couch drinking beer.  Now he's a respected scientist.  We all have limits, and the mind can take awhile to heal


Everyone is different, what you need is different, but a suggestion from someone not in your shoes is check out the marie kondo tidying up book.  DW and I find that going through our stuff and getting down to the minimum has huge mental clarity benefits and really helps put our life goals in perspective. 
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: afterthedark on August 21, 2019, 09:22:06 AM
I have spent much of the last 15 years trying to recover from burnout, which for me came in the form of chronic fatigue syndrome. Iíve slowly identified lots of unhealthy beliefs, e.g. caring what others think of the tidiness of my house or garden, perfectionism about certain things, it not being ok to be ill or take time off work, not being able to achieve as much as other people, the long list goes on.

What Iíve realised more recently is pretty much all the unhealthy beliefs I have are really ĎIím not good enoughí. My garden isnít tidy enough so Iím not good enough, Iím not good enough because I achieve less than that person, Iím not good enough if Iím not in perfect health, etc. Iím listening to the book ĎI heart meí by David R Hamilton, which Iím finding really helpful, if this is something that others can identify with.

The thing I found interesting about beliefs is apparently they often get formed before weíre 8íish. Obviously at that age you arenít considering logically if a belief makes sense or not, you are just learning things from the people around you. The throw away comment they make when they are preoccupied, or the health or money worries they think they are hiding but you are still aware of on some level, can become unhelpful beliefs that have a life long impact on you.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Raenia on August 21, 2019, 10:01:08 AM
Oh, so much yes on the not being sick or taking time off work!

This morning I woke up feeling ugh and like I could use another 3 hours of sleep.  Normally I would just force it, get up, and go to work.  I thought about getting up, and then I thought, DH sometimes takes a sick day 'just' because he didn't sleep well, and I don't think any less of him for it.  Why shouldn't I do the same thing?  So I called out, went back to sleep, and am now having a leisurely day at home doing some tidying and reading.

I was very proud of myself last year for not taking any sick days!  But why?  Why is not being sick, or not taking care of myself when I don't feel well, something to feel proud of?  Of course, it isn't at all.  Amazing how long it took me to figure that out.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 21, 2019, 10:38:27 AM
Ahem.  You can pry my house cleaner (she/they come every 2 weeks) out of my cold, dead hands.

I floated that idea past Boyfriend and he said absolutely not. He's uncomfortable with strangers in our apartment touching our stuff. I told him I'd schedule it on the 1 day a week I WFH but he's still uncomfortable. Honestly, we really can't afford it anyway.


Yeah, your houseguest needs to not be a houseguest. Recommend a good hotel and suggest that she book a room.  Or suggest that she help bring it up to her standards, since you're helping her avoid a room fee.

That's what everyone tells me to do but I feel uncomfortable with that because she lets us stay with her for free all the time in her city. In her house that is pristine and never has any pet hair in it despite her having twice as many pets as we do. This is Boyfriend's best friend and he doesn't want to turn her away. He thinks I should just tell her to F off when she criticizes me (this only happens when he is out of earshot, and no, she does not think the condition of our apartment has anything to do with Boyfriend's cleaning abilities or lack thereof because he is male). I just find it hard because she's right, I am a shitty housekeeper. It just hurts to have it pointed out to me, you know?

If someone staying at mine pointed out that I'm a shitty housekeeper (which I am), I'd be suggesting that maybe they take that over or stfu. Meanwhile, who the hell care if you're a shitty housekeeper? Better things to do, better places to be and no one has died yet, right???
Or point out that BOYFRIEND is a shitty housekeeper.  If you don't like it, here's the vacuum.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 21, 2019, 01:38:46 PM
Y'know those athletes in movies who have serious injuries or concussions and the team doctor tells them they simply cannot play anymore, but they beg them to give them a cortisone shot or clear them for play even though the MD knows that they're risking their career/health/life, and the whole audience is screaming in their heads "OMG you idiot! It's not worth it! Don't do it! Don't be such a stupid fucking cliche!" and the athlete does it and there are devastating consequences for them???

Yeah...that's you.

I laughed reading this, me love a bit of tough love hehe

Burnout Advice 1: Say out loud what you're thinking, people will point out you're being illogical (or a total idiot).

But it's been haunting me ever since. "I want to do x, y or z." *looks around at the imaginary stadium audience* "Is this idiotic?"

I started feeling unwell at work today and the awareness slowly came to me. "I think... I think everyone is saying Don't Do It".

So I gathered some courage, turned around to the manager and said "I'm taking the rest of the day off, I'm not feeling well."

I talked to my mom when I arrived home and mentioned I have a doctor's appointment...in 3 weeks and that I was going to wait patiently.

"What?!?!?!?!? Call them now" (See? they tell you when you being stoopid)

The doctor could see me in 30 min so I got on an Uber and turned up with my list of symptoms. I was a nervous wreck, sure they would send me home without anything.

The doctor could not have been any more helpful and sympathetic. She was convincing me that I was unwell, not the other way around. She gave me 2 weeks off work. I'm writing it down because I couldn't believe it.

It says that I may be fit to work during the time if the company reduces my hours, lets me work from home etc etc.

Then I went to see my friend nearby and what did I say?

"I'm thinking of saying I will only work from home for the next 2 weeks".

"What?!?!?!?!? Don't be daft, you'll still be just as unwell after 2 weeks of working from home. Say you are unfit and that's it". (See? they tell you when you being stoopid)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 21, 2019, 01:49:09 PM
Y'know those athletes in movies who have serious injuries or concussions and the team doctor tells them they simply cannot play anymore, but they beg them to give them a cortisone shot or clear them for play even though the MD knows that they're risking their career/health/life, and the whole audience is screaming in their heads "OMG you idiot! It's not worth it! Don't do it! Don't be such a stupid fucking cliche!" and the athlete does it and there are devastating consequences for them???

Yeah...that's you.

I laughed reading this, me love a bit of tough love hehe

But it's been haunting me ever since. "I want to do x, y or z." *looks around at the imaginary stadium audience* "Is this idiotic?"

It's the only way I know how to show love ;)
And yeah, that's exactly the kind of thinking I was hoping to trigger.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 21, 2019, 01:58:38 PM
I think itís more that some of us donít realize how bad the mental health has gotten until the physical symptoms kick in and force a slowdown. I donít think we can be blamed for not recognizing the mental symptoms if we grew up in a Type A-rewarding society and were never even taught about mental health. My dad regularly worked 60+ hours per week when I was growing up. At 68, my mom still regularly works 45-50 hour weeks. It was my norm.

I was an academic biomedical scientist in my former life. I lived in that bubble for more than a decade. The only visible path to success (i.e., tenure) was to work 60-80 hours per week and run oneself ragged. The junior faculty member across the hall ended up hospitalized for heart palpitations (from stress) when I was in grad school. One of my classmates developed shingles at age 25 (stress). Another ended up hospitalized with gastritis (stress), and a third with severe vitamin D deficiency (poor diet, lack of sun exposure due to long lab days). Although my celiac disease kicked in at the beginning of PhD year 4, I didnít get really worried and consider slowing down until postdoc, when I was hit with an unexplained bout of rectal bleeding and a subsequent bout of pertussis (which was awful and I absolutely understand how kids die from it, and yes, I had been vaccinated).

Yeah, I wasnít sleeping by the end. My post doc advisor recommended that I take sleeping pills because it was the only way that she could sleep. I was anxious all the time, but so was everyone else around me. One good grad school friend was on three separate meds for anxiety. The anxiety and stress were accepted as normal. You learned quickly not to even talk about them except with close friends (and only at the peer level) because it would make you look weak. The physical symptoms were what the culture accepted as problematic.

The culture sucks. No question. I donít think the answer is to blame people for not paying more attention to mental health when it is not even obvious to us that those symptoms are abnormal.

This story and similar ones helped me so much to come out of denial. I read it and found it absurd! But of course someone can read my story, my normal and find that absurd.

I'm not from Asian background but my parents can be described as Tiger Parents. When I was talking to my mom today I was ready for "because in my days, we worked 300 hours a week and were grateful bla bla bla" instead she said "I only regret not taking care of myself when I went through what you are experiencing at the moment. It was a different time and a different culture or maybe I just could not see that is was an option, but it was so hard. You should take all the resources available to you to make you feel better".

Another "fuck" moment.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 21, 2019, 02:04:27 PM

Thank God you booked an appointment with your doctor! I am so, so glad. I wish I could just give you the biggest hug. Can you bring a friend or relative with you? I had - still have - problems remembering stuff. Having a friend there just to listen to what the doctor says will help you! My doctor asked me (purely out of curiosity) when I thought I'd be able to work again. I said 3-4 weeks. She shook her head and said 'I hope to God that'll be true for you. But most likely, this'll take months'. It felt like such massive validation. My doctor is the best.

Seeing this massive list of stress-related issues you've had for years... you're like bad dough: you're overworked (feel free to read this in Paul Hollywood's voice). Holidays were always a trigger for me: first week, I'd be too highstrung and usually still working - even in a fucking onsen resort in Japan (oh, work calls me and it's 4AM in Japan? Well, I'm already awake now... better answer it! Then I fall asleep for an hour and an earthquake woke me up - true story). Second week would be flu/migraines/cold. And then I'd be back at work.

As for your kitchen cupboard mania... yeah, I completely understand. Even when you're finally home with a doctor's note and you get to rest... this will spring up from time to time. You get frustrated being sick and your body is still making adrenaline at VERY inopportune times. Your stress system is out of whack and it needs to heal. Just two days ago my stress system had a weird convulsion: I needed, needed to do yardwork. So there I was, pulling weeds at 11PM in the dark, using my phone as a flash light. Brains are weird, man.

I hope your doctor's visit goes well! If not, strongly consider asking a second opinion from a different doctor! I don't know if there's a legal right to a second opinion where you are but you can always ask. But I hope it won't be necessary!

Hahaha I got laugh at our senseless instincts. Cleaning cupboards at 9pm, yardwork in the dark. We gotta write this stuff down and then read to ourselves to see the irrationality of it all. With a lot of self-care and forgiveness, we are only weak humans.

I followed you advice and I had my list of 8-9 symptoms and the doctor was beyond great. I'm so relieved.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 21, 2019, 02:42:38 PM
Y'know those athletes in movies who have serious injuries or concussions and the team doctor tells them they simply cannot play anymore, but they beg them to give them a cortisone shot or clear them for play even though the MD knows that they're risking their career/health/life, and the whole audience is screaming in their heads "OMG you idiot! It's not worth it! Don't do it! Don't be such a stupid fucking cliche!" and the athlete does it and there are devastating consequences for them???

Yeah...that's you.

I laughed reading this, me love a bit of tough love hehe

Burnout Advice 1: Say out loud what you're thinking, people will point out you're being illogical (or a total idiot).

But it's been haunting me ever since. "I want to do x, y or z." *looks around at the imaginary stadium audience* "Is this idiotic?"

I started feeling unwell at work today and the awareness slowly came to me. "I think... I think everyone is saying Don't Do It".

So I gathered some courage, turned around to the manager and said "I'm taking the rest of the day off, I'm not feeling well."

I talked to my mom when I arrived home and mentioned I have a doctor's appointment...in 3 weeks and that I was going to wait patiently.

"What?!?!?!?!? Call them now" (See? they tell you when you being stoopid)

The doctor could see me in 30 min so I got on an Uber and turned up with my list of symptoms. I was a nervous wreck, sure they would send me home without anything.

The doctor could not have been any more helpful and sympathetic. She was convincing me that I was unwell, not the other way around. She gave me 2 weeks off work. I'm writing it down because I couldn't believe it.

It says that I may be fit to work during the time if the company reduces my hours, lets me work from home etc etc.

Then I went to see my friend nearby and what did I say?

"I'm thinking of saying I will only work from home for the next 2 weeks".

"What?!?!?!?!? Don't be daft, you'll still be just as unwell after 2 weeks of working from home. Say you are unfit and that's it". (See? they tell you when you being stoopid)

Adrenaline does funny things. It's ambulance policy, for example, to transport people to hospital who have suffered a major trauma like a road accident - regardless of their insistence that they're fine and unhurt. Regardless of the fact that they're up and walking. All sorts of injuries are revealed when the adrenaline wears off, even significant breaks. You're the person with a fractured femur, three broken ribs and a severed finger standing outside the ambulance arguing that you're just fine. You're not fine. Even if you're aware that something is not ok, you need that adrenaline to wear off before you can really judge how not ok you are. So let other people who care for you be your guide about how not fine you are, for now. Guess what? You're ALLOWED to be not fine. It's human. You WILL be fine, but give yourself some time.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 21, 2019, 02:47:02 PM
I'm legit tearing up as I read this thread and I'm so glad this stuff is being discussed. I had, until recently, a family member in my life who is very much suck-it-up, someone else has it worse so what are you complaining about, think about someone else for a change, you're not sick or elderly or being abused or living in poverty so what on earth do you have to get stressed about, etc. I've since cut that person off but I'm having a hard time getting past that mentality.

One example - this weekend I did an art show (my side hustle). I was in a tent all day both days - in the heat and during some truly terrifying storms - and just the physical act of setting up and tearing down is physically very difficult and exhausting. So I decided to take yesterday off at my day job to recover. My "recovery" day ended up being me running a ton of errands that I couldn't do over the weekend - some of which were correcting Boyfriend's errors (I'd asked him to do the grocery shop but he failed to bring home some things I needed and in one case bought the wrong thing), repairing the storm damage in both of my gardens out in the humidity and heat, and then I spent 4 hours canning salsa because my huge pile of garden tomatoes was about to spoil. And I'm wondering why I don't feel rejuvenated?

Meanwhile I'm beating myself up because yesterday I didn't get to the laundry and I didn't spend enough time with the cats and I didn't do much cleaning. My landlord is coming in tomorrow to do a kitchen repair and my kitchen is absolutely disgusting and I'm embarrassed to have him see it like that. So tonight - after staying late at work because in my absence my boss took away all my helpers and put them on another crisis - I get to stay up late scrubbing. As an added bonus, I have a houseguest this weekend who is extremely vocally critical of my housekeeping skills - she's right, I am just not a good cleaner - so the whole rest of the week when I am not at work needs to be spent scrubbing things.

How do you all let go of stuff like this without feeling like a failure? For me it's less about being type A, though I have tendencies in that direction, and more about, isn't this just basic adulting? Managing to get the errands run and clean enough so that your apartment isn't disgusting and you're not repelling your houseguests, while still holding down a job and meeting your financial obligations and saving enough?

Meanwhile, over in my journal I just floated the idea of getting a second job because I'm not able to max out my retirement accounts and still cover bills/normal spending on my current salary plus side hustle earnings. And everyone told me, rightfully so, that that would be batshit insane, echoing what Boyfriend and my therapist told me. It is proving to be HARD to shake the "you're not doing enough" mentality, and part of me feels that I'll never stop feeling burnt out until I'm able to retire, which I can't do because I can't save enough, so I should increase income, round and round we go. Ugh.

Well, that was something of a hijack but I'm glad that we are all talking about this. And that it is not just me.

Tris, my love, I'm tearing up right there with you. I'm sending you a big hug.

Burnout Advice 2: Thinking and reasoning got you where you are. It will not change your course. Drastic inaction is necessary.

You designed your life to be a certain way, you set things out to be on automatic so you could keep going friction-less, day after day, to achieve what you set out. You made various decisions that all fit together like a jigsaw. It's a great thing however it got you to where you are but there are serious downsides to it. Take it from me, changing a few things will not do it. I've tried it.
You think I didn't go to the doctor before?
You think I didn't take it easy for a while? (I quit my previous job and was unemployed for six months, travelling in the sunshine)
You think I didn't go to the psychiatrist, psychologist and therapist before?
You think I didn't read 7 Habits?

I had to stop everything because very little is actually essential. In my case I couldn't because my body stopped. You wanna do this? We can do it but we will projectile vomit... you call though.
Honey, I give it to you, you can fake you have my symptoms, gastritis is bad enough but common enough. Take it and use, tell everyone you can't do shit because it makes you vomit.
And things become very irrelevant compared to stomach pain and losing a kilo a week (that I didn't have to spare)
Do nothing because it's when you make it that quiet you can then listen to your body complaining, you can hear the alarm bell ringing that you'd previously pushed aside.

I was unwell at work today. But I'd been like that before. But I finally listened, I finally stopped rationalizing it. I know exactly what you mean by "round and round we go". "Am I sick now? I was pretty well yesterday when I went out for dinner... I can't be off now, half the team is on holiday. I just need to eat something. It's because I went to bed late and didn't sleep well, I'll sleep loads tonight and it will be fine. Only I know how to do this at work." Today there was no reasoning with myself, it went "I'm feeling unwell, I really like my work but my health is my actual priority, so I'm going to go take care of it".

Regarding the feeling like a failure. It feels amazing. There are no more goal posts! You can stop running. Seriously, it took me a month and various friends and this forum for me to accept it. Now, I'm a failure! But a failure at what? I'm failing at cleaning my house! I'm failing at dating! I'm failing at exercising! I'm failing at work. So fucking what?
It's a bit like the silver medalist who feels shit because they compare themselves to the gold medalist. We keep these expectations that are far removed from reality. Give up, be a failure, it gives you so much peace of mind.

The houseguest will come, will comment on your performance, you will get annoyed. Ok. Nothing changed in the other. Tough love won't make you better at cleaning.

You don't can the tomatoes and they go bad. Ok. You are in crisis mode, fuck the tomatoes and the investment in them. You will grow and use them beautifully - next year, when you're not a mess.

Cancel the next art show, even if you really love your hobby. Maybe you will wake up that Saturday and be so dammed relieved you won't have to put the display up and then pack it up that it will make you realize how much of a toll it was taking.

I have a note... you might not like it...

Changing your behavior might...bring to light your boyfriend's true colors. Which might be beautiful or nasty. If you give space and silence, you will see them.

My little story since I seem unable to stop typing:
Once upon a time I had a boyfriend (real fit *wink wink*). I had just done my first week at a new job, you can imagine the stress. Had just cycled from one side to another of London on a dark evening, was dead tired. Arrived at his place. He sits me down in front of his laptop and asks me to comment, make a few adjustments on his MBA applications letters. But like, proper, as if I was a professional. I mentioned I was tired, I could look at it at a later stage, I was actually hoping for some dinner. And then I hit me how tremendously selfish he was being. Did I mention he was voluntarily unemployed for months so we could write these letters? That he got £50k from his employer just the week before? Why was he running me to the ground? What about my long week? I was still employed and studying on top of it!

You can compare it to the gentleman who dumped me a few weeks ago. Oh yes, he dumped me. He could have easily shake me off. But no, he is just as concerned about my health. He spoke to our friends in common and they were extra warm and nice to me so I wouldn't feel left out of the group, I could just feel that my well being was taken into account.


Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 21, 2019, 03:05:29 PM
Well, shit.  I'm also mid-burnout-- just starting to edge into occasional physical symptoms.  This thread and all its posters have been really great in pinpointing and putting to words both the feelings and internal motivators that have been driving me absolutely bugfuck bonkers for the last year or so... all the shit that I was only able to start acknowledging to myself less than a month ago.  I come home from work with a twelve item to-do list to complete, I map out my weekends by the hour by what I'll accomplish.  I have fleeting wistful thoughts about playing games, reading books that I never make time for.  When I do (occasionally) carve out some time for personal pleasures, I find myself constantly distracted, getting up to put cups away, wiping down the countertops, scrolling through social media.  I used to drink for pleasure, now I drink to relax (and I can't remember the last time I could REALLY relax.)  I can't focus, and I especially can't focus on doing stuff 'for me'.  I used to pop up early on weekends, excited to take on the day.  Now I sleep in, and by sleep in I mean lie in a haze while scrolling through twitter, berating myself for not getting started on my TDL.  And on and on. 

Recently, family, friend, and health issues have made my feeling of dread and exhaustion ten times worse... and about two weeks ago, I realized that I had to just... Stop.  Practice actual self care (not the kind marketed to burnt out people in the form of candles and manicures), by actually prioritizing the needs of this combo fleshsack and brainjar first.  Over money and FI, over work, and family pressures, and most importantly, over endlessly feeding the productivity machine I had envisioned myself to be.

It's not going all that well (hey, do you want the itemized list of the things i "accomplished" list week?  It's very important to me that I keep such a list, you see) but it is going.  I'm working on it, day by day.

The thought of giving up that idealistic vision of myself is fucking awful.  It IS like a superpower, and the feeling of being able to get everything done every day is absolutely addictive.  I love feeling like I GOT THIS; I'm in control of my life, the captain of my own ship and my own fate; I can do anything and everything if I only stopped putzing around and put my mind to it, etc.etc.  Which isn't true, of course, but it's a good story to tell myself while internally trying to crack the whip, and get my exhausted mind to keep chugging along at an unsustainable speed.

Only the thought of going on as I am is worse, of living another year, three years, ten years like this: never satisfied, never happy, only productive.  Or tying up all my self worth to this impossible ideal of myself and hitting the wall going 200mph... yeah, I don't want that to happen.  And the wall coming up over the horizon.

So not a lot in the way of advice, but deep DEEP commiseration for everyone here.  I truly appreciate this thread and everyone who's chimed in with their thoughts and personal experiences.

Deep commiseration @Fish Sweet !

Ask yourself: How much time do I feel I GOT THIS and how much time do I spend feeling I GOT TO GET MY SHIT TOGETHER, I CANNOT LET THINGS DERAIL.

Let it derail man. Pretend you have gastritis, you are headed in the direction of a crisis anyway. Plan that you be will holding you mid section in pain and gasping for air this weekend. You will see how much of that to do list is becomes optional.

I don't know your gender but I was in a very similar permanent dissatisfaction mode. You know which were my favorite days of the month? When I got my period. Pure bliss. So much back ache, my legs feel like lead, my insides contracting and twisting or whatever the ungodly thing that happens to reproductive system. Some hormones drop significantly and that makes women very freaking tired around that time. So my state of being dead to the world was pretty normal. I loved those days because I gave myself permission to want nothing, achieve nothing, I didn't question whether or not I was really unfit, I just allowed it not to be productive. It feels so good.

Oh...you might find out you are actually pretty miserable in life. And the achievements keep you thinking you're better than the rest of us. I mean, I feel this huge hole in my soul but I'm such a good, productive citizen. I cannot possible be miserable and useless, that's just a waste of space. Mate, we're all waste of space. You're accomplishing all those tasks and nobody is giving a shit. Feel the awful feelings, but you need silence and inaction for that.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Life in Balance on August 21, 2019, 04:17:36 PM
PTF because I need this information tattooed on my forehead. Thanks to those who have posted on this and other similar threads, I finally took action on prioritizing my health in a real way.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 21, 2019, 06:53:57 PM
A quote that spoke to me this weekend that I shared with friends.

Be the kind of woman who makes other women want to up their game feel worthy and valid regardless of how their game is going
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on August 22, 2019, 04:32:10 AM
A quote that spoke to me this weekend that I shared with friends.

Be the kind of woman who makes other women want to up their game feel worthy and valid regardless of how their game is going

Totally unrelated to your quote, but it did make me think of this.

I found a small psychological tool to be extremely useful in my transition away from achievement-junkie to responsible-human.

I stopped referring to myself in any kind of existential descriptive terms. For example, I used to always say:
I am an extremely outcome-oriented person
I am always on time
I am highly motivated
I am a dedicated team member

It was awkward at first, but I started using a lot of distancing language between me and the descriptors I use to explain my behaviour, because that's what it is, it's behaviour, it's not actually who I am, it's how I choose to behave. So I switched it to:
I prioritize outcomes
Being on time is usually very important to me
I find it easy to find motivation
I can provide a lot of dedication to the team

It reframes that all of the above are choices I make at work and in life. When I used to describe them as *who I was*, it out this enormous internal pressure on me to live up to that expectation. Now that I frame it as a choice, it all becomes a lot more optional.

If a behaviour is coded as an optional choice, then it feels totally normal to choose not to do it when a reasonable mitigating factor comes up, like poor health. Because it's not *who* I am, I don't feel bad when I can't follow through on a choice that may only be a rational choice when I'm healthy.

Spend some time observing the labels you apply to yourself, and it will give you an enormous amount of insight into the internal pressures you put on yourself.
Changing the language won't solve the problem, but it will help to not let those pressures be so automatically running in the background. Just recognizing them is a hugely productive first step.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Linea_Norway on August 22, 2019, 08:27:01 AM
@brunetteUK, I think you are making great progress, having received your (first) sick leave. Don't even consider working during that period. Now also try to have some fewer obligations during the weekend and just relax, sleep out, etc.

After reading this whole thread, I see that I am also very much a type A person, always taking responsibility, filling up my to do lists, never had more than 1-3 sick days a year and many years 0, etc.

Last year, after having a lot of stress both at work and at home, I got symptoms of memory loss. Like not remembering a word in every single sentence I wanted to speak or write. Not remembering how to spell words in English. And not being able to remember series of numbers and characters, like call signs of a flight. Ik could remember 4 to 5, while 8 is supposed to be standard. And not to forget high blood pressure that went through the roof.

Since then I have done a couple of things: I quit being a board member of our private road. I started working 80% and have indeed not worked more than my assigned hours. Prioritized walking to work twice a week. Done an 8 week online meditation course and followed in to the point (Type-A), meditating and performing mindful yoga on alternate days. I have also prioritized doing my hobby that requires me to make lots of trips in the forest. That all went quite well. But I still have the constant feeling that there are not enough hours in a week to do all the things I would like to do. I would also like to go on more camping trips, but just thinking about the energy it will take to pack the gear and plan where to go is depressing me a bit.

Now after the summer vacation things are sliding a bit. We had an important software test with customers present and I need to be at work before them, therefore I didn't have time to walk to work a single time this week. As I am now finished with the meditation program, I don't HAVE to do it anymore, and therefore I haven't. Recently I tried again, but couldn't concentrate on my breathing at all. I should try this again more seriously.

The other thing is that we will FIRE in half a year and this requires selling our clown house. Selling a house is a big stressor. As it makes a huge financial impact for us how much we will get for the house, we are putting in a lot of effort in preparing it for sales. We have painted the outside walls, adjusted doors that didn't open smoothly, removed most of the wild chaos from the garden (after 4 weeks of summer vacation), DH plastered a basement wall. I will this weekend paint the wall. We also still have an issue going on with the previous owner of the house and this needs to be resolved before we sell. This is a stressful element.

We still have a whole list of improvements to do in the next weeks. Despite that, DH suggested we booked a week's vacation to Greece, just to relax a bit. I hope I will be able to relax during that week. But the sales schedule looks realistic. Yes, we should work hard, but it looks doable, both working 80%. We also have some additional extra hours/days to take off if necessary. Since I have planned to give my notice at the end of September, I can also relax a bit more at work mentally. If they are now telling me unrealistic deadlines for projects, I can silently laugh about it and just mention aloud that I think it is a bit unrealistic. I feel sorry for my co-workers and my department that I'm leaving, as they seem to value me. But for my own health I so much need this. But this week I again noticed the first symptoms of memory loss and lack of sleep. I haven't measured blood pressure, but I know it is pretty high now.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 22, 2019, 03:35:24 PM

Thank God you booked an appointment with your doctor! I am so, so glad. I wish I could just give you the biggest hug. Can you bring a friend or relative with you? I had - still have - problems remembering stuff. Having a friend there just to listen to what the doctor says will help you! My doctor asked me (purely out of curiosity) when I thought I'd be able to work again. I said 3-4 weeks. She shook her head and said 'I hope to God that'll be true for you. But most likely, this'll take months'. It felt like such massive validation. My doctor is the best.

Seeing this massive list of stress-related issues you've had for years... you're like bad dough: you're overworked (feel free to read this in Paul Hollywood's voice). Holidays were always a trigger for me: first week, I'd be too highstrung and usually still working - even in a fucking onsen resort in Japan (oh, work calls me and it's 4AM in Japan? Well, I'm already awake now... better answer it! Then I fall asleep for an hour and an earthquake woke me up - true story). Second week would be flu/migraines/cold. And then I'd be back at work.

As for your kitchen cupboard mania... yeah, I completely understand. Even when you're finally home with a doctor's note and you get to rest... this will spring up from time to time. You get frustrated being sick and your body is still making adrenaline at VERY inopportune times. Your stress system is out of whack and it needs to heal. Just two days ago my stress system had a weird convulsion: I needed, needed to do yardwork. So there I was, pulling weeds at 11PM in the dark, using my phone as a flash light. Brains are weird, man.

I hope your doctor's visit goes well! If not, strongly consider asking a second opinion from a different doctor! I don't know if there's a legal right to a second opinion where you are but you can always ask. But I hope it won't be necessary!

Hahaha I got laugh at our senseless instincts. Cleaning cupboards at 9pm, yardwork in the dark. We gotta write this stuff down and then read to ourselves to see the irrationality of it all. With a lot of self-care and forgiveness, we are only weak humans.

I followed you advice and I had my list of 8-9 symptoms and the doctor was beyond great. I'm so relieved.

I'm so glad you went to the doctor and that you have some room to breathe now!! Go back to the doctor in two weeks and discuss how it's been, how you're feeling/sleeping/reacting. Be HONEST with yourself and your doctor. Your first instinct will be to say "No, I'm fine, just needed some extra sleep!". You'll be thinking "I don't feel much different, still stressed. Might as well get back to work." Don't you fucking dare, I will fly to the UK and slap you. Which I shouldn't be doing because that would be too stressful. So... tell the doctor the truth, not what you think they'd like to hear. The doctor will tell you what you should be doing. Take some comfort in that; the doctor, a professional, is making the decision. You merely supply the facts: your symptoms.
 
Also please don't fill this time with work - whether it's 'work' work, DIY around the house, whatever. You need to stop for these 2 weeks. I'm one to talk, because my dumbass brain interpreted rest as 'I need to do yoga 3x a week and walk 2 hours a day and do body weight training oh and I need to book nail and hair appointments because that's self care!'. I honestly had a 'self care list' of 38 (THIRTY EIGHT) items I would do several times a week. Talk about a type A personality eh? Well, that caused me to be exhausted after a few weeks, meaning I was right back on square one.

Wake up when your body wants to, eat and drink soberly, take a walk. That's your to do list now.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 23, 2019, 10:55:51 AM
A quote that spoke to me this weekend that I shared with friends.

Be the kind of woman who makes other women want to up their game feel worthy and valid regardless of how their game is going
Totally unrelated to your quote, but it did make me think of this.

I found a small psychological tool to be extremely useful in my transition away from achievement-junkie to responsible-human.

I stopped referring to myself in any kind of existential descriptive terms. For example, I used to always say:
I am an extremely outcome-oriented person
I am always on time
I am highly motivated
I am a dedicated team member

It was awkward at first, but I started using a lot of distancing language between me and the descriptors I use to explain my behaviour, because that's what it is, it's behaviour, it's not actually who I am, it's how I choose to behave. So I switched it to:
I prioritize outcomes
Being on time is usually very important to me
I find it easy to find motivation
I can provide a lot of dedication to the team

It reframes that all of the above are choices I make at work and in life. When I used to describe them as *who I was*, it out this enormous internal pressure on me to live up to that expectation. Now that I frame it as a choice, it all becomes a lot more optional.

If a behaviour is coded as an optional choice, then it feels totally normal to choose not to do it when a reasonable mitigating factor comes up, like poor health. Because it's not *who* I am, I don't feel bad when I can't follow through on a choice that may only be a rational choice when I'm healthy.

Spend some time observing the labels you apply to yourself, and it will give you an enormous amount of insight into the internal pressures you put on yourself.
Changing the language won't solve the problem, but it will help to not let those pressures be so automatically running in the background. Just recognizing them is a hugely productive first step.

Both @mm1970's quote and @Malkynn's comment gave me food for thought, thanks!
It made me think of this TED Talk I watched, where he explained we usually have one truth we believe in about ourselves. That was formed in childhood (and more psychology stuff, tried but I can't find the link so won't misquote the guy). And a "truth" that probably is incorrect. And he invites us to think about what we take as incontestable truth and challenge it.

I have the posts-its I wrote down at the time, won't burden you with the negative stuff I hold as true descriptive of myself, but here are the positives:
- I'm kind, sweet, loyal and resourceful.
- I'm actually quite lovely.
- Just being myself is enough.

@brunetteUK, I think you are making great progress, having received your (first) sick leave. Don't even consider working during that period. Now also try to have some fewer obligations during the weekend and just relax, sleep out, etc.

After reading this whole thread, I see that I am also very much a type A person, always taking responsibility, filling up my to do lists, never had more than 1-3 sick days a year and many years 0, etc.

Last year, after having a lot of stress both at work and at home, I got symptoms of memory loss. Like not remembering a word in every single sentence I wanted to speak or write. Not remembering how to spell words in English. And not being able to remember series of numbers and characters, like call signs of a flight. Ik could remember 4 to 5, while 8 is supposed to be standard. And not to forget high blood pressure that went through the roof.

Since then I have done a couple of things: I quit being a board member of our private road. I started working 80% and have indeed not worked more than my assigned hours. Prioritized walking to work twice a week. Done an 8 week online meditation course and followed in to the point (Type-A), meditating and performing mindful yoga on alternate days. I have also prioritized doing my hobby that requires me to make lots of trips in the forest. That all went quite well. But I still have the constant feeling that there are not enough hours in a week to do all the things I would like to do. I would also like to go on more camping trips, but just thinking about the energy it will take to pack the gear and plan where to go is depressing me a bit.

Now after the summer vacation things are sliding a bit. We had an important software test with customers present and I need to be at work before them, therefore I didn't have time to walk to work a single time this week. As I am now finished with the meditation program, I don't HAVE to do it anymore, and therefore I haven't. Recently I tried again, but couldn't concentrate on my breathing at all. I should try this again more seriously.

The other thing is that we will FIRE in half a year and this requires selling our clown house. Selling a house is a big stressor. As it makes a huge financial impact for us how much we will get for the house, we are putting in a lot of effort in preparing it for sales. We have painted the outside walls, adjusted doors that didn't open smoothly, removed most of the wild chaos from the garden (after 4 weeks of summer vacation), DH plastered a basement wall. I will this weekend paint the wall. We also still have an issue going on with the previous owner of the house and this needs to be resolved before we sell. This is a stressful element.

We still have a whole list of improvements to do in the next weeks. Despite that, DH suggested we booked a week's vacation to Greece, just to relax a bit. I hope I will be able to relax during that week. But the sales schedule looks realistic. Yes, we should work hard, but it looks doable, both working 80%. We also have some additional extra hours/days to take off if necessary. Since I have planned to give my notice at the end of September, I can also relax a bit more at work mentally. If they are now telling me unrealistic deadlines for projects, I can silently laugh about it and just mention aloud that I think it is a bit unrealistic. I feel sorry for my co-workers and my department that I'm leaving, as they seem to value me. But for my own health I so much need this. But this week I again noticed the first symptoms of memory loss and lack of sleep. I haven't measured blood pressure, but I know it is pretty high now.

Hi @Linea_Norway ! I'm so sorry to hear about your symptom of memory loss, it must be really unsettling for you.

A colleague at a previous company I worked at gave her notice before the mandatory period on her contract. Of course it depends on the dynamics in your company, but if you can do that - or at least mentally - and still work until your planned date than it could give you more peace of mind. Also, could you not sell the house after you've finished with work? At least one less thing for you to juggle at the same time.
Also, if you can FIRE in x amount of time, it's very likely you can FIRE now. Not that you have to, just for you to think from that perspective too.

This priority business is pretty tricky. You really do have to let go of one thing to be able to do another. Squashing things together or going from one item to the next before taking a breath only works for so long.
I have a tendency to put Self-Care in the same list as Do Laundry and end up feeling all messed up if I don't do it. Maybe it's ok to self-care on the couch rather than self-care in the mountains.

You better relax on that trip to Greece!!! You eat all the courgette balls, all the spinach pie, all the aubergine and cheese backed dish, better pay a daily visit to your local fournos and eat all the heavenly bakery goods. For my sake, please have a freddo cappuccino at the beach each morning. I'm not going to pretend it is not possible to have beauty in front of you and not see because of stress/depression. But please.... it's Greece, warrants an effort.


I'm so glad you went to the doctor and that you have some room to breathe now!! Go back to the doctor in two weeks and discuss how it's been, how you're feeling/sleeping/reacting. Be HONEST with yourself and your doctor. Your first instinct will be to say "No, I'm fine, just needed some extra sleep!". You'll be thinking "I don't feel much different, still stressed. Might as well get back to work." Don't you fucking dare, I will fly to the UK and slap you. Which I shouldn't be doing because that would be too stressful. So... tell the doctor the truth, not what you think they'd like to hear. The doctor will tell you what you should be doing. Take some comfort in that; the doctor, a professional, is making the decision. You merely supply the facts: your symptoms.
 
Also please don't fill this time with work - whether it's 'work' work, DIY around the house, whatever. You need to stop for these 2 weeks. I'm one to talk, because my dumbass brain interpreted rest as 'I need to do yoga 3x a week and walk 2 hours a day and do body weight training oh and I need to book nail and hair appointments because that's self care!'. I honestly had a 'self care list' of 38 (THIRTY EIGHT) items I would do several times a week. Talk about a type A personality eh? Well, that caused me to be exhausted after a few weeks, meaning I was right back on square one.

Wake up when your body wants to, eat and drink soberly, take a walk. That's your to do list now.

I wasn't aware but I laughed so hard because that's exactly what I was thinking "2 weeks from now, I'll be good as new, enough with this burnout, exhaustion, depletion bla bla bla".

Then I cried because... my go-to mode is not reliable. I have a problem and I cannot shoot at it with my productivity laser relentlessly until I get the desired results. It's a totally different game. I want to write down a 38 items self-care list and I want that to be the answer.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 23, 2019, 11:06:26 AM
Today was my first full day of sick leave and I've been taking it pretty easily. Woke up naturally, had good homemade food various when I felt naturally hungry and took my time with things.

I wanted to go for a 20 min walk. I could leave the house and turn right for gelato. Or turn left to read at a cute riverside spot.

I turned left, walked 200 meters and sat down at the first bench. "Sat down"... more like  half collapsed and sat there motionless trying to catch my breath and the strength to sit right.

Two hundred meters was the limit today. But I stayed on that bench for an hour, enjoying the pretty river, listening to my audio book and letting my legs tan. And I laughed at myself, because I really did spend quite some time wondering whether I wanted to read or to have some gelato.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 23, 2019, 01:09:45 PM
Today was my first full day of sick leave and I've been taking it pretty easily. Woke up naturally, had good homemade food various when I felt naturally hungry and took my time with things.

I wanted to go for a 20 min walk. I could leave the house and turn right for gelato. Or turn left to read at a cute riverside spot.

I turned left, walked 200 meters and sat down at the first bench. "Sat down"... more like  half collapsed and sat there motionless trying to catch my breath and the strength to sit right.

Two hundred meters was the limit today. But I stayed on that bench for an hour, enjoying the pretty river, listening to my audio book and letting my legs tan. And I laughed at myself, because I really did spend quite some time wondering whether I wanted to read or to have some gelato.

Yep, that sounds about right. I used to walk a LOT. Like 10km or more was just a short walk for me. After the quakes in my city, which destroyed a good part of the city, I wasn't able to walk at all. I tried a few times because it was my form of stress relief. I didn't make it to the end of the street! It was just exhausting. It took a long time to get back up to what I was doing beforehand. Just goes to show how much energy your body is quietly expending on managing stress without you even being aware of it.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on August 23, 2019, 01:31:49 PM
Today was my first full day of sick leave and I've been taking it pretty easily. Woke up naturally, had good homemade food various when I felt naturally hungry and took my time with things.

I wanted to go for a 20 min walk. I could leave the house and turn right for gelato. Or turn left to read at a cute riverside spot.

I turned left, walked 200 meters and sat down at the first bench. "Sat down"... more like  half collapsed and sat there motionless trying to catch my breath and the strength to sit right.

Two hundred meters was the limit today. But I stayed on that bench for an hour, enjoying the pretty river, listening to my audio book and letting my legs tan. And I laughed at myself, because I really did spend quite some time wondering whether I wanted to read or to have some gelato.
Ah glorious.

But I probably would have gone with both!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Linea_Norway on August 23, 2019, 02:31:03 PM
Our house has a very difficult road in the winter. The broker said we should sell it before the snow comes, for that reason.
The other thing is that I want to make sure we get the required sales sum for the house, and not 100K $ less, because in that case we cannot FIRE yet. We are already taking a chance, because we are giving notice before the house is on sale. A bit scary, but the broker thinks we might get 100K$ more for the house than my conservative estimate that we need to FIRE. But, the housing market is slow now, because the mortgage interest has gone up twice this year and made buyers very carefull.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: StarBright on August 23, 2019, 02:52:50 PM
This thread was a gift that I needed today. I've been trying to push through burnout for a while (having finally acknowledged that it was burnout).  Can't really take time off, but did make an appointment with my doctor as my physical symptoms have been getting worse for a while.

Thanks everyone who keeps posting in this thread.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 23, 2019, 02:58:15 PM
Today was my first full day of sick leave and I've been taking it pretty easily. Woke up naturally, had good homemade food various when I felt naturally hungry and took my time with things.

I wanted to go for a 20 min walk. I could leave the house and turn right for gelato. Or turn left to read at a cute riverside spot.

I turned left, walked 200 meters and sat down at the first bench. "Sat down"... more like  half collapsed and sat there motionless trying to catch my breath and the strength to sit right.

Two hundred meters was the limit today. But I stayed on that bench for an hour, enjoying the pretty river, listening to my audio book and letting my legs tan. And I laughed at myself, because I really did spend quite some time wondering whether I wanted to read or to have some gelato.

Whether it's a hundred meters or 10k, a walk is a walk. Plus sleep and food: massive check on your to do list. Good on you for choosing nature over gelato, nature and nature sounds are exceptionally good for stressed people. Oh and great job getting some tan and some vitamin D!
 
It. Gets. Better. Just stick to sleep-eat-walk (even 200m! You listened to your body!). You're doing exactly what you need to be doing right now, anything more or less is detrimental to your recovery. You're doing awesome, and you're doing it right.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on August 23, 2019, 03:05:26 PM
Both @mm1970's quote and @Malkynn's comment gave me food for thought, thanks!
It made me think of this TED Talk I watched, where he explained we usually have one truth we believe in about ourselves. That was formed in childhood (and more psychology stuff, tried but I can't find the link so won't misquote the guy). And a "truth" that probably is incorrect. And he invites us to think about what we take as incontestable truth and challenge it.

This is fascinating. I suspect my incorrect "truth" is that I am weak and overly sensitive. I've always been short and small, and I was the only child of an often nervous, overprotective mother. I tend to run myself ragged to counteract this "truth."
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 23, 2019, 03:09:22 PM
This thread was a gift that I needed today. I've been trying to push through burnout for a while (having finally acknowledged that it was burnout).  Can't really take time off, but did make an appointment with my doctor as my physical symptoms have been getting worse for a while.

Thanks everyone who keeps posting in this thread.

Confucius say: you take time off, or time take off you.
 
Sorry, couldn't help that one. I'm happy that you're going to see a doctor and that this thread helped you! Really sucks that you can't take time off, if you feel comfortable sharing why, maybe we can be your think tank? If your work is costing you more than it's bringing you, it's literally not worth it! Every company should have a reasonable system for overworked/sick employees - or else hire actual robots.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: StarBright on August 24, 2019, 09:03:45 AM
This thread was a gift that I needed today. I've been trying to push through burnout for a while (having finally acknowledged that it was burnout).  Can't really take time off, but did make an appointment with my doctor as my physical symptoms have been getting worse for a while.

Thanks everyone who keeps posting in this thread.

Confucius say: you take time off, or time take off you.
 
Sorry, couldn't help that one. I'm happy that you're going to see a doctor and that this thread helped you! Really sucks that you can't take time off, if you feel comfortable sharing why, maybe we can be your think tank? If your work is costing you more than it's bringing you, it's literally not worth it! Every company should have a reasonable system for overworked/sick employees - or else hire actual robots.

Just am already out of sick time for the year and saving the rest of my vacation time for the Christmas holiday and when my children inevitably need sick time this fall and winter :)
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on August 28, 2019, 03:19:32 PM
@brunetteUK how are you?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on August 29, 2019, 01:57:32 PM
Yep, that sounds about right. I used to walk a LOT. Like 10km or more was just a short walk for me. After the quakes in my city, which destroyed a good part of the city, I wasn't able to walk at all. I tried a few times because it was my form of stress relief. I didn't make it to the end of the street! It was just exhausting. It took a long time to get back up to what I was doing beforehand. Just goes to show how much energy your body is quietly expending on managing stress without you even being aware of it.

@AnnaGrowsAMustache - I need that print on my bedroom walls! Now that I've stopped being sucked from one activity to another and paying attention, things take so much energy!!

Yes, obvs that walking and exercising and working take energy. But calming yourself down not to punch your manager also takes energy. Navigating your relationship with your significant other takes energy. Hanging out the laundry takes energy.

There is research showing that poorer people have more difficulty handling money. It shows that it is not only the small amount of money that it is a problem. A huge problem is that they need to make so many money related decisions all the time. So they need to spend energy on making the decision but also on managing the emotional side of money spending choices. This on top of not so great work environment and probably lack of support for childcare, good transport and so on.

Also, there is the unpaid emotional and organisational labour that women have been doing for donkeys years in their households. "You just need to tell me and I'll do it".

And yet, I did not connect the dots that each new activity is a decision. So the decision and the activity itself will both take effort. Right now I'm pairing down my efforts and activities and I'm happy like that. The next sentence sounds so cliche, sorry! Now that I'm giving a big f*ck off to all the "shoulds" I have been following, now that I'm accepting that I have what I have and have no more ambitions to get anything else, now I can see more clearly what is important to me.

My best friend has a 5 year old who is obvs totally adorable. But I don't make seeing him and being present in his life a priority. Why? It is something I want. But of course, the voice in my head said "You should be out and about, hot and single in London, going on yummy dates. Not spending your weekends involved in someone else's child, you should be chasing a husband so you can have your own child. Only losers look after other people's children." Also, I kept feeling sorry for myself because it's so hard to go and see my friends, because they have cars and I need to take a bus a two trains and sad song continues. Ahn?! Hello?! Driving license? Apps where you can rent a car by the hour/day?! Uber?!

My wellbeing is another one. I feel so sorry for myself because everything is so expensive in London, poor, poor me. Only the ladies with rich husbands can really enjoy life. (If you notice a pattern, please be kind, I noticed it too) But when I look at the trade offs, I'm very, very happy to pay for a massage, twice a month! On the other hand, I really like manicures but I don't like the time trade off, so no. I love swimming! There is a gym with swimming pool in front of my work. Yes, it's is money going out. But I've had enough of the poor, poor me. It's missing the entire point to look at spendypants and think "only those spending money blindly could make those choices, I'm money savvy so I endure, no other options".

I will be an adult, I will make the choices. I have enough money for trial and error. I have lived my "should" life for various years now. Now I've stopped brushing my hair and I'm questioning everything.
Ah glorious.

But I probably would have gone with both!
@mm1970 that gelato is seriously good! They better have my flavour next time.

Our house has a very difficult road in the winter. The broker said we should sell it before the snow comes, for that reason.
The other thing is that I want to make sure we get the required sales sum for the house, and not 100K $ less, because in that case we cannot FIRE yet. We are already taking a chance, because we are giving notice before the house is on sale. A bit scary, but the broker thinks we might get 100K$ more for the house than my conservative estimate that we need to FIRE. But, the housing market is slow now, because the mortgage interest has gone up twice this year and made buyers very carefull.

Good luck with the house sell @Linea_Norway , it's never that easy, right? Fingers crossed for you.

This thread was a gift that I needed today. I've been trying to push through burnout for a while (having finally acknowledged that it was burnout).  Can't really take time off, but did make an appointment with my doctor as my physical symptoms have been getting worse for a while.

Thanks everyone who keeps posting in this thread.
@StarBright I understand there is a lot to juggle, maybe you can make a slower turnaround. All I can say is that burnout/exhaustion does not give you warning. Take what you are feeling seriously. Whatever warning it gives, you'll probably ignore it. Or like me, I tried, I went to the doctors, tried to handle my workload and so on, but the bad signs wer bearable, so I kept going.
One weekend I wake up complaining of stomach discomfort, two weeks later I'm weeping of pain and desperation.
We are here if you need us!

@OtherJen - tell yourself a new, kind, more true story, you deserve it!


Whether it's a hundred meters or 10k, a walk is a walk. Plus sleep and food: massive check on your to do list. Good on you for choosing nature over gelato, nature and nature sounds are exceptionally good for stressed people. Oh and great job getting some tan and some vitamin D!
 
It. Gets. Better. Just stick to sleep-eat-walk (even 200m! You listened to your body!). You're doing exactly what you need to be doing right now, anything more or less is detrimental to your recovery. You're doing awesome, and you're doing it right.
[/quote]

Cue the tears.

I keep telling myself "your doctor gave you two weeks off, that is the minimum it will take for you to feel a bit better".
It is hard. I still have no energy. I keep feeling just as bad. My stomach doesn't improve. Mentally I'm feeling a bit more rested, I've made peace with the fact that a chapter of my life has closed abruptly and without my prior planning.

But the body? Today's walk was putting the rubbish out and I had to take a rest when I came back inside. I feel sick because I'm hungry then I eat, then I feel sick because I've eaten.

Yesterday I had the magic idea of meeting up with a friend. Was. Not. Prepared. My friend gave birth a month ago, so she is taking it easy too. And yet, it was all too much, taking public transport, walking around, talking, listening, coming back home. Today I had one of my worst days, now I realized it's probably because of doing too much yesterday.

How are you doing @Nederstash ?

Thanks for all the kind words!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: former player on August 29, 2019, 03:04:36 PM

I keep telling myself "your doctor gave you two weeks off, that is the minimum it will take for you to feel a bit better".


I'm glad you are still posting.  I hope two weeks will be long enough for you to feel a bit better. 

Two weeks seems to be the default period for a fit note: your GP probably gave you this pretty automatically and so I don't think the two weeks implies anything about how much better you will be at the end of it.

When you feel up to it, I would suggest scheduling an appointment with your GP for nearer the end of your two weeks so that you can see whether or not you are fit to go back to work and if not how long the next fit note should be for - the guidance to GPs says that your next fit note can be for up to 3 months.  If you need that time I hope you will take it.  The employment protections around sick leave in the UK are so much better than they are in the USA where many of the posters on this forum are based.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on August 29, 2019, 08:59:26 PM
OP, if you can handle hanging out with a kid (and sometimes the level of noise is too much), they're pretty good for perspective and stress relief (note that I'm talking about hanging with OTHER PEOPLE'S kids here. Your own ones are not the same!). Little kids are all in on games and activities. They know how to focus on one thing exclusively. They don't make decisions at all, if they can help it. And they don't give a flying F about anyone else's issues.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Linea_Norway on August 29, 2019, 11:56:55 PM
OP, about being single and needing to find a hudband...
i think that when you are in a super stressed situation, that you are not at your most attractive. At least, that is the feedback I get at home. So I would suggest that you focus on getting better and do only positive things. Visit the freind with baby if you feel up to it. Or ask her to visit you for an hour? Forget to "hunt" for a relationship.
If you after some time feel much better and have more energy, and then go to places where you can meet new people, then it might just happen.

Your analysiss above sounds like you have understand your situation very well. I also think that you rather need some months with sickleave, rather than just the 2 weeks. If you want to strangle your boss from time to time, it is maybe time to look for another job when you have energy for that. If that would remove a major stressor for you, that might be worth it.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on September 02, 2019, 10:58:38 AM

How are you doing @Nederstash ?

Thanks for all the kind words!

To be honest, I'm doing pretty shitty. I'd been on the up for a bit, but down again since last week. I'm exhausted and any added pressure (like visiting a doctor or doing sports) will have me vomiting or laid up with migraines. I've been out for nearly 5 damn months, I should be doing better... but everyone tells me this is to be expected and just take it easy.

I do have concert tickets to Muse next week, hope I'll be on the up by then!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on September 02, 2019, 08:30:58 PM

How are you doing @Nederstash ?

Thanks for all the kind words!

To be honest, I'm doing pretty shitty. I'd been on the up for a bit, but down again since last week. I'm exhausted and any added pressure (like visiting a doctor or doing sports) will have me vomiting or laid up with migraines. I've been out for nearly 5 damn months, I should be doing better... but everyone tells me this is to be expected and just take it easy.

I do have concert tickets to Muse next week, hope I'll be on the up by then!

When you've been under stress for a long time, there are actual changes to your body's biochemistry. There's a kiwi woman who writes about this a lot - Dr Libby (actual medical doctor, not just a quack). Her books are excellent at explaining what is going on in your body and how to start to alter that using exercise and diet. She's all about the science, not junk science, of nutrition and how that impacts people's lives. I would recommend her book Rushing Women's Syndrome. You can probably find it on Fishpond.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: WalkaboutStache on September 02, 2019, 08:52:42 PM
Hi @brunetteUK

It sounds like you did a lot of the things you should do.  Get the right degree, then get the right job (probably in the right kind of company), make the right amount of money and so on.  The next tick is the relationship and you stopped yourself at the edge of that rabbit hole - just in time.

From what I understand, it is actually common for people who "do well" to follow "the path:"  Good school, good grades, good job, good pay, good neighborhood... then the realization that this isn't really it for them.  Usually, by that time they don't know what they want to do with their life because they were advancing so furiously that they have no idea what makes them happy anymore.

This is how it was for me, and I don't think I am alone.  In fact, I hear echoes of what I think and feel in what you say. Everyone's way out of that hole will be different - reading about yours has helped me confirm that I was headed into the same severe burnout.  I am still burnt out, but just wanted to ping you to say that there is a way out.  Hang in there.

Or don't hang in there - there is nothing wrong in telling your dream job to burn in hell.  It may not even be your own dream anyway, so if you realize you are thinking with someone else's mind you don't have to suffer through the expectations that are not yours either.

Good luck!

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Nederstash on September 04, 2019, 07:41:25 AM

How are you doing @Nederstash ?

Thanks for all the kind words!

To be honest, I'm doing pretty shitty. I'd been on the up for a bit, but down again since last week. I'm exhausted and any added pressure (like visiting a doctor or doing sports) will have me vomiting or laid up with migraines. I've been out for nearly 5 damn months, I should be doing better... but everyone tells me this is to be expected and just take it easy.

I do have concert tickets to Muse next week, hope I'll be on the up by then!

When you've been under stress for a long time, there are actual changes to your body's biochemistry. There's a kiwi woman who writes about this a lot - Dr Libby (actual medical doctor, not just a quack). Her books are excellent at explaining what is going on in your body and how to start to alter that using exercise and diet. She's all about the science, not junk science, of nutrition and how that impacts people's lives. I would recommend her book Rushing Women's Syndrome. You can probably find it on Fishpond.

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely check it out!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: KentBent on September 04, 2019, 08:33:48 AM
The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mckaylabaloney on September 04, 2019, 01:55:09 PM
Posting to follow because whew does a lot of this thread resonate with me.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on September 04, 2019, 02:02:25 PM
The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

Beyond a certain threshold, time doesn't heal shit. Without adequate psychological medical attention, time can actually just dig this shit further deep down into someone's psyche and grow roots.

Some types of psychological injury can become psychological cancer if left untreated.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on September 04, 2019, 08:18:34 PM
The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

Shopping. Really. THATíS your brilliant suggestion, sir?

Iím guessing you havenít actually ever dealt with burnout. One doesnít need to comment on absolutely everything. Also, this is the Mr. Money Mustache forum.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Linea_Norway on September 05, 2019, 01:46:19 AM
For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

Shopping. Really. THATíS your brilliant suggestion, sir?

Iím guessing you havenít actually ever dealt with burnout. One doesnít need to comment on absolutely everything. Also, this is the Mr. Money Mustache forum.

Indeed, I think that shopping clothes is an attempt to make you happy, which might work for about 5 minutes. Pretty soon after, it is back to status quo, maybe even with added stress of having spent too much money.
Organizing a clothes swap with friends might be a good idea to get some different garments.

But I do agree on that a fresh haircut sometimes can be helpful, if your current hair gives you stress.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on September 05, 2019, 05:08:42 AM
The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

Shopping. Really. THATíS your brilliant suggestion, sir?

Iím guessing you havenít actually ever dealt with burnout. One doesnít need to comment on absolutely everything. Also, this is the Mr. Money Mustache forum.

Don't be so judgie. A revamp and some pampering would absolutely work for someone somewhere, and if it works then it's totally legit. I'm a person who has done something drastic to her hair at almost every massive stress point in my life, and I've felt better for it. Kind of like I've shed the previous person and that person's emotions and I'm ready to go forward. Frankly, I couldn't give a flying fuck about spending money if it's on something that helps my mental wellbeing, MMM or not.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: OtherJen on September 05, 2019, 09:29:10 AM
The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

I apologize. Itís been a very difficult few weeks, and I initially read the post as dismissive of the OPís situation.

Shopping. Really. THATíS your brilliant suggestion, sir?

Iím guessing you havenít actually ever dealt with burnout. One doesnít need to comment on absolutely everything. Also, this is the Mr. Money Mustache forum.

Don't be so judgie. A revamp and some pampering would absolutely work for someone somewhere, and if it works then it's totally legit. I'm a person who has done something drastic to her hair at almost every massive stress point in my life, and I've felt better for it. Kind of like I've shed the previous person and that person's emotions and I'm ready to go forward. Frankly, I couldn't give a flying fuck about spending money if it's on something that helps my mental wellbeing, MMM or not.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: AnnaGrowsAMustache on September 05, 2019, 07:08:18 PM
The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

I apologize. Itís been a very difficult few weeks, and I initially read the post as dismissive of the OPís situation.

Shopping. Really. THATíS your brilliant suggestion, sir?

Iím guessing you havenít actually ever dealt with burnout. One doesnít need to comment on absolutely everything. Also, this is the Mr. Money Mustache forum.

Don't be so judgie. A revamp and some pampering would absolutely work for someone somewhere, and if it works then it's totally legit. I'm a person who has done something drastic to her hair at almost every massive stress point in my life, and I've felt better for it. Kind of like I've shed the previous person and that person's emotions and I'm ready to go forward. Frankly, I couldn't give a flying fuck about spending money if it's on something that helps my mental wellbeing, MMM or not.

No worries. Look after yourself. Difficult few weeks are never fun.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on September 06, 2019, 06:22:03 AM
I have gone back to the GP and she gave me another 4 weeks off. Thank you @former player !

OP, if you can handle hanging out with a kid (and sometimes the level of noise is too much), they're pretty good for perspective and stress relief (note that I'm talking about hanging with OTHER PEOPLE'S kids here. Your own ones are not the same!). Little kids are all in on games and activities. They know how to focus on one thing exclusively. They don't make decisions at all, if they can help it. And they don't give a flying F about anyone else's issues.

I spent quiet some time last weekend with me friend's son, he's is 5 and adorable. He also doesn't care about most things in my life, he just loves Auntie Brunette and couldn't wait to see me. <3 <3 <3

I spend most of Tuesday with my friend and her six week old baby (he's a quiet, chilled baby). I must say holding a soft warm bundle of a baby is pretty heart warming. I refrain from spending more time with them because the baby demands non-stop care and the mother is obcessed with new mother things. While perfectly normal, it's quite tiring after a while for me.

OP, about being single and needing to find a hudband...
i think that when you are in a super stressed situation, that you are not at your most attractive. At least, that is the feedback I get at home. So I would suggest that you focus on getting better and do only positive things. Visit the freind with baby if you feel up to it. Or ask her to visit you for an hour? Forget to "hunt" for a relationship.
If you after some time feel much better and have more energy, and then go to places where you can meet new people, then it might just happen.

Your analysiss above sounds like you have understand your situation very well. I also think that you rather need some months with sickleave, rather than just the 2 weeks. If you want to strangle your boss from time to time, it is maybe time to look for another job when you have energy for that. If that would remove a major stressor for you, that might be worth it.

Ah...the relationship world! I totally agree with you that I'm now it's not the optimal time. I put the brakes on dating since the burnout started. I still have feelings for the gentleman that broke things off recently but no freaking chance. He won't but if he came around with the perfect speech I would still say No, Not Now, this brunette woman needs to get her house sorted.
Captain Obvious conclusion but I've been reading 7 Habits and the author talks about missions statements and what we put at the centre/core of our lifes. I knew I did not have an inner sense of direction. But my eyes bulged out as I noticed I basically spent the past decade jumping from having Family as a centre (mom's approval and directions), to Spouse as a anchor and person to rotate around. And when both did not deliver the desired sense of being grounded, I put Work at the core. And everyone knows Work doesn't love you back :)


How are you doing @Nederstash ?

Thanks for all the kind words!

To be honest, I'm doing pretty shitty. I'd been on the up for a bit, but down again since last week. I'm exhausted and any added pressure (like visiting a doctor or doing sports) will have me vomiting or laid up with migraines. I've been out for nearly 5 damn months, I should be doing better... but everyone tells me this is to be expected and just take it easy.

I do have concert tickets to Muse next week, hope I'll be on the up by then!

When you've been under stress for a long time, there are actual changes to your body's biochemistry. There's a kiwi woman who writes about this a lot - Dr Libby (actual medical doctor, not just a quack). Her books are excellent at explaining what is going on in your body and how to start to alter that using exercise and diet. She's all about the science, not junk science, of nutrition and how that impacts people's lives. I would recommend her book Rushing Women's Syndrome. You can probably find it on Fishpond.

Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely check it out!

Thank you for the recommendation, I'll have a read too! @Nedestash, I'm sending you many virtual hugs, be kind and patient to yourself, hope the Muse concert keep your spirits high.

Hi @brunetteUK

It sounds like you did a lot of the things you should do.  Get the right degree, then get the right job (probably in the right kind of company), make the right amount of money and so on.  The next tick is the relationship and you stopped yourself at the edge of that rabbit hole - just in time.

From what I understand, it is actually common for people who "do well" to follow "the path:"  Good school, good grades, good job, good pay, good neighborhood... then the realization that this isn't really it for them.  Usually, by that time they don't know what they want to do with their life because they were advancing so furiously that they have no idea what makes them happy anymore.

This is how it was for me, and I don't think I am alone.  In fact, I hear echoes of what I think and feel in what you say. Everyone's way out of that hole will be different - reading about yours has helped me confirm that I was headed into the same severe burnout.  I am still burnt out, but just wanted to ping you to say that there is a way out.  Hang in there.

Or don't hang in there - there is nothing wrong in telling your dream job to burn in hell.  It may not even be your own dream anyway, so if you realize you are thinking with someone else's mind you don't have to suffer through the expectations that are not yours either.

Good luck!


You know what is ironic @WalkaboutStache ? That the choices I've made are pretty good fit for me. It is the guidance and rationale behind them that are made of sand.
There is a difference between staying late because you want your coworker to look bad and staying late because you genuinely care about tomorrow's presentation and the positive impact on the business. The act is the same, but one has a good principle guiding it and will make you satisfied with your decision while the other is merely masking your misery.

So now I'm working out what is my dream, what are my priorities, who is the person I want to be. It is hard, uncomfortable work.
I've done some thinking and writing on it already and I can already see it guiding some of my decisions. As I've mentioned before, I'm struggling with heartbreak. While the only thing you can do about feelings is to feel the damn feelings, it is very easy to feel they are in control, that I am at the mercy of my feelings and the actions of the other person. So I've used my guiding principles, my little mission statement. When I ask myself What am I going to doooo? then I can try and apply those principles to the situation at hand. All of a sudden, I'm still heartbroken with all that sadness and pain but I am at peace, I feel I'm doing this because of a value that's important to me. That is so calming.

How is your burnout recovery been going so far? A few of us needs tips and comiserations around here ;)

The symptoms you've mentioned sound more like stress symptoms (https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2). From my own experience, I can say that you need some time to forget. As we all know  ďTime heals all wounds.Ē Some can say that time is not the healer, but from my own experience, I can say it is.

However, it is not about time only, you too should do some steps to relieve this condition. What workes for me when I'm stressed, is good rest and sleep, socialization, a vacation if possible, if not, then other types of entertainment.

For some women, shopping works amazingly. A new look or a new hair cut will bring you confidence that plays a great role in the self-perception.

Hi @KentBent ! I need time, that's for sure. But productive, healing time. Time to rest so then I can take all the problems from the pile at the back of the cupboard, I can unearth all the traumas and Marie Kondo all the pain and assumptions that I've put myself through in the past two decades.

@Malkynn , you are very correct in that the more time you give certain problems, the more you think that is part of who you are and the more they become a foundation of your next problem.

@AnnaGrowsAMustache @Linea_Norway I have been doing a bit of both, deep thinking and re-evalutating for a while, then buying new airtigh containers for the kitchen. I must say I like the self care aspect of a new haircut, of stepping away from my scarcity mentality and buying a hoodie just because.

@OtherJen - How are things? Any luck with the difficult weeks? Virtual hugs for you too!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on September 06, 2019, 06:57:26 AM
I didn't get to burnout in a day or a month so I try to tell myself to give it time. But it's so hard to keep perspective. One advice from my therapist was to walk 8 thousands steps everyday, no more, no less. Read and concentrate for 5 minutes  three times a day, no more, no less. Eat regularly. This is so my bad days and good days can look alike. So I can make a little effort on my bad days and save energy on my good ones.

Isn't she clever? Because that's exactly how it goes. I have a good day and off my brain goes "I'm super poweful, I'm unstoppable, I can take over the world!". EASY TIGER, EASY. Then I have a bad day - because I've overdone it on my previous good day - and I feel I will never, ever, in a million years, feel good again.
And why do I need to get better? What is so wrong with not being productive?

In the past few days, guess who came back? The depression came back! In a sense, I think I'm only burning out and crumbling down now because I've learned to deal with my depression. I don't think I would have been able to handle both at the same time a few years ago. I have come to accept that I'm susceptible to depressive symptoms. I have also learned that I have the tools to manage them, that they are also a little alarm bell when things are off balance.

On a side note, I had to laugh at myself for what I put my poor friends through.
Brunette: "I have burnout, I'm so tired I can't do anything"
Friends: "Sounds like depression!"
B: "No, no, it's very different, during depression I don't want to do anything but I can do things, during burnout I can't do anything but I want to do things."
F: *very puzzled* ooooo-kay.

The tummy feels a little bit better. Although everything tastes the same. I have been sleeping all night.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Malcat on September 06, 2019, 07:43:39 AM

Isn't she clever? Because that's exactly how it goes. I have a good day and off my brain goes "I'm super poweful, I'm unstoppable, I can take over the world!". EASY TIGER, EASY. Then I have a bad day - because I've overdone it on my previous good day - and I feel I will never, ever, in a million years, feel good again.
And why do I need to get better? What is so wrong with not being productive?

There's a very powerful and fundamental human bias: the belief that the way we feel right now is the way we have always felt and the way we will always feel.

When you have an amazing day, it's actually really hard to relate to the you that had the recent miserable day and it's hard to fathom that you could ever be that down, and when you are having a miserable day, it's very hard to feel like you've ever actually felt okay or like you ever will again.

It's a funny little trick the mind plays, and it can be dangerous when you are in an unhealthy mental state because the decisions we make are based on how we feel in the moment, and if we can't reasonably understand what future moments might feel like, we can't make responsible decisions.

This is where the scripts come in.
Oy, the scripts.
These are the overarching narratives we've crafted in order to keep some consistency in our behaviour.

"I'm the kind of worker who always is willing to stay late to get the job done" will drive you to stay late regardless of what your state is. The scripts are subconscious tools you develop in order to thrive, they're very strong in high achievers.

So, we have two competing driving forces: our constantly changing bias that our current state is a stable reality and the unchanging scripts that we have programmed ourselves to believe.

Cool, these two driving forces do a pretty decent job of offsetting each other...unless you are mentally unhealthy, in which case, both are working against you.
...well fuck.

That's why it's so smart that your therapist is recommending consistency in your routine and energy output. It bypasses the script, and levels out the experience between the high and low days. Also, because the behaviour is the same, you will have a metric against which you can objectively observe how different the experience is being up vs being down. 

When you are in the trenches, you can't afford the down days, so you learn to script your way out of them. That's a classic survival mode tool, it's the super power that lets you achieve beyond your actual capacity.

The problem is that the down periods are normal, and not at all dangerous, and need to be felt fully in order to move through them and emotionally and psychically thrive.

I remember the utter shock at realizing that I didn't need to be afraid of feeling miserable. That there was nothing wrong with me if I had a bad day where everything felt like shit and where I didn't want to get anything done.

It was glorious to eventually, slowly realize that as long as I am mentally healthy, those days are harmless and will pass on their own. There's nothing to fix, no discipline needed to be deployed, and urgency to change life to avoid these days. Some moments are just unpleasant, and a natural part of how the brain processes existence.

In survival mode, you can't do that because you're system is in life-or-death mode. Everything is a problem that needs to be solved, a drop in performance is an indicator that the system is weak and failing, and cracks in the armour are terrifying, so those down moments feel convincingly like signs of impending doom.

"OMG I can't even perform at 20% today, I am totally fucked, what if I never get back to being able to give the 110% that I need to in order to succeed?"

On the flip side, those strong days are what convince you that you should always be able to give 110% and the script you write for yourself is that because you can do it today, anything less is a failure.

There are two possible outcomes for people who set unrealistic scripts
1: they fail to meet their own expectations feel defeated, and develop a sense of learned helplessness and tend to flounder
2: they unfortunately find resources to keep meeting those unrealistic expectations until they are so depleted they burnout

Your challenge now is to get to know yourself, who you really are beneath the scripts and the biases. And yes, getting to know someone takes a LOOOONG time, especially when that person is as closed off and hidden as you are.

It's only your script that's telling you that you should solve this problem quickly, and your bias that tells you that when you are having a good day that you've done it, you've solved the problem, so it's time to move on.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: StarBright on September 06, 2019, 08:24:41 AM
This thread is really amazing. I have never heard the advice about doing the same thing every single day (ie 800 steps) when bouncing back. That is really neat and I'm going to write it down so that I can reference it at some point.

brunetteUK - thank you so much for continuing to update about your experience. I think you are helping out a lot of people on this forum!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Life in Balance on September 06, 2019, 05:54:50 PM
@brunetteUK, thanks so much for starting this thread and updating it so regularly.  Also thanks to the other posters for their contributions.  Because of this and a similar thread started by @Imma, I decided to leave my job at the end of the year (1-2 years earlier than I was planning).  The health effects of long-term stress and burnout are just dangerous, but I was in denial, I think, before reading all these experiences at the forum.  Seeing my own symptoms described over and over by others made them more valid, I guess.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Linea_Norway on September 06, 2019, 11:51:14 PM
@brunetteUK, thanks so much for starting this thread and updating it so regularly.  Also thanks to the other posters for their contributions.  Because of this and a similar thread started by @Imma, I decided to leave my job at the end of the year (1-2 years earlier than I was planning).  The health effects of long-term stress and burnout are just dangerous, but I was in denial, I think, before reading all these experiences at the forum.  Seeing my own symptoms described over and over by others made them more valid, I guess.

Very smart to do this.

And if it financially doesn't work out completely, you can always do some lower stress work to provide extra income.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Onnagodalavida on September 07, 2019, 07:37:52 AM
What worked for me is to travel alone. I went to Asia, where it's fairly cheap to get hotels, etc. Camping is another alternative; Europe has an excellent series of trails for hiking or biking with affordable camp areas along the routes, or you can do what I do, which is stealth camp with a hammock.

Traveling alone is psychologically difficult at first, due to loneliness. It does, though, clear your head, and give you a chance to gain perspective. I found myself seeing stuff I was doing, like perfectionism, that I had had no awareness of before. I slept well. I eventually found a way to do what a fellow traveler told me I needed to do to overcome the loneliness: learn how to be a friend to myself and create a good time on my own.

Good luck.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Life in Balance on September 07, 2019, 07:54:03 AM
@brunetteUK, thanks so much for starting this thread and updating it so regularly.  Also thanks to the other posters for their contributions.  Because of this and a similar thread started by @Imma, I decided to leave my job at the end of the year (1-2 years earlier than I was planning).  The health effects of long-term stress and burnout are just dangerous, but I was in denial, I think, before reading all these experiences at the forum.  Seeing my own symptoms described over and over by others made them more valid, I guess.

Very smart to do this.

And if it financially doesn't work out completely, you can always do some lower stress work to provide extra income.

Thanks, @Linea_Norway, I will most likely end up doing some PT work in the future (after I recover for a couple of years).  I am hopeful that whatever that work is will align with my values and make a difference.  And I may end up being okay financially and just volunteering.  I'm just glad to have made the decision.  Waffling back and forth was very stressful.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: afterthedark on September 08, 2019, 06:51:07 AM
For those that are trying to be consistent with the amount of exercise etc that they do every day. One thing to bare in mind if fluctuating hormones may be a consideration, is that hormones can have a really marked effect on energy levels, ie you can go from the most energy you have at the moment, to the lowest energy level you have, within hours sometimes. This can add an extra layer of complexity if you are trying to work out how much you can do. If it might be a consideration it could be worth tracking things for a few months.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on September 10, 2019, 10:46:15 AM
Hello!

Some updates!

I've continued to rest and think about my priorities. One of my guiding values nowadays is to Be Responsible. In the sense that I'm the one with all the controls of my life, I'm the one making decisions so I can bloody well go ahead and take them (despite my previous expections, other people advice or what is just normally accepted).

I gave up on a few things that I was doing "kinda because ... that's what you do, no?" I gave up putting on nail varnish and on putting effort into cooking. Both these activities gave me constant stress, a sense of failure and took so much more energy than any benefit I got in return. I've put a lot of effort into cooking for the past decade. Still very average (just good enough so I can make fun of british cooking hehe). I'm still going to eat healthy, I'm not stupid. I'm just not going to cook meals that have a chance of turning out not good and making me sad. I've selected 14 trusted recipes and I'll roll with them. Unnecessary to say manicures take me 1h30 to do but get bad two days later.

I also let go of the idea of wearing high heels. Yes, I know, I'm sorry. I look really good in them and my long legs look even better. The leg lovers will just have to look at someone else. I'm still going to wear beautiful or professional shoes, I'm not silly. But why exactly was I wearing high heels really? I'm burned out, I don't have time for this.

I've continued to feel tired but my brain keep pulling the leash to go faster. I'm training myself to take it easy despite my mood, despite my anxiety, despite feeling 10% or 80%. Today was good practice. I had to be somewhere at 11h and after I got up, I noticed I was on "speed and efficiency mode". I wasn't looking at the breakfast, I wasn't breathing calmly, I wasn't paying attention to my stomach. I was on Mission Get Ready and Leave. So I actively calmed myself down, took a few seconds to change my mindset and went on more present.

Another thing got me thinking today. My parents' reaction has been bothering ever since I went off sick. I've reached out to various friends, close ones and a few I haven't spoken in ages, a few work colleagues, you guys on the internet and the response has been pretty much the same. Concern and support. Everyone did a bit extra than usual, I got video calls, I got house visits, peple literally put effort into making a bit of time and showing their support. My brother has been calling me most days, he has no idea how to help me but whatever, he calls and talks and listens. My parents also call, also listen. But they do so when they're not busy, when they've arrived at the resort where they're spending the weekend, after they got off the phone with the bank manager. I've asked them to come and stay with me and they have the time and money resources for it. But their response it is as if I asked them to travel to another continent because I have a period cramps. What is the point of being FIRE - which they are - and not use those resources on your only daughter in the bloody rare occasion when she needs you?

I've been overwhlemed by the acts of love from all my friends, I really have, so I haven't dwelled too much on my parents' response. But the contrast is so clear. And now I'm bummed. Maybe this is another good side effect from something so significant as burnout. It showed me how they behaved in a very clear way. It is so clear, that I don't have to wonder anymore. I just accept them as they are and interact in a way that respect my boundaries.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on September 10, 2019, 11:20:07 AM

There's a very powerful and fundamental human bias: the belief that the way we feel right now is the way we have always felt and the way we will always feel.

When you have an amazing day, it's actually really hard to relate to the you that had the recent miserable day and it's hard to fathom that you could ever be that down, and when you are having a miserable day, it's very hard to feel like you've ever actually felt okay or like you ever will again.

It's a funny little trick the mind plays, and it can be dangerous when you are in an unhealthy mental state because the decisions we make are based on how we feel in the moment, and if we can't reasonably understand what future moments might feel like, we can't make responsible decisions.

This is where the scripts come in.
Oy, the scripts.
These are the overarching narratives we've crafted in order to keep some consistency in our behaviour.

"I'm the kind of worker who always is willing to stay late to get the job done" will drive you to stay late regardless of what your state is. The scripts are subconscious tools you develop in order to thrive, they're very strong in high achievers.

So, we have two competing driving forces: our constantly changing bias that our current state is a stable reality and the unchanging scripts that we have programmed ourselves to believe.

Cool, these two driving forces do a pretty decent job of offsetting each other...unless you are mentally unhealthy, in which case, both are working against you.
...well fuck.

That's why it's so smart that your therapist is recommending consistency in your routine and energy output. It bypasses the script, and levels out the experience between the high and low days. Also, because the behaviour is the same, you will have a metric against which you can objectively observe how different the experience is being up vs being down. 

When you are in the trenches, you can't afford the down days, so you learn to script your way out of them. That's a classic survival mode tool, it's the super power that lets you achieve beyond your actual capacity.

The problem is that the down periods are normal, and not at all dangerous, and need to be felt fully in order to move through them and emotionally and psychically thrive.

I remember the utter shock at realizing that I didn't need to be afraid of feeling miserable. That there was nothing wrong with me if I had a bad day where everything felt like shit and where I didn't want to get anything done.

It was glorious to eventually, slowly realize that as long as I am mentally healthy, those days are harmless and will pass on their own. There's nothing to fix, no discipline needed to be deployed, and urgency to change life to avoid these days. Some moments are just unpleasant, and a natural part of how the brain processes existence.

In survival mode, you can't do that because you're system is in life-or-death mode. Everything is a problem that needs to be solved, a drop in performance is an indicator that the system is weak and failing, and cracks in the armour are terrifying, so those down moments feel convincingly like signs of impending doom.

"OMG I can't even perform at 20% today, I am totally fucked, what if I never get back to being able to give the 110% that I need to in order to succeed?"

On the flip side, those strong days are what convince you that you should always be able to give 110% and the script you write for yourself is that because you can do it today, anything less is a failure.

There are two possible outcomes for people who set unrealistic scripts
1: they fail to meet their own expectations feel defeated, and develop a sense of learned helplessness and tend to flounder
2: they unfortunately find resources to keep meeting those unrealistic expectations until they are so depleted they burnout

Your challenge now is to get to know yourself, who you really are beneath the scripts and the biases. And yes, getting to know someone takes a LOOOONG time, especially when that person is as closed off and hidden as you are.

It's only your script that's telling you that you should solve this problem quickly, and your bias that tells you that when you are having a good day that you've done it, you've solved the problem, so it's time to move on.

Thank you @Malkynn , you make a very valid point, it reflects my situation very well. The part in bold made me cry in recognition.
I've dealt with depression for many years so I monitor my mental health pretty closely. It is just hard to know when I'm having normal human feelings and when I'm being unhealthly miserable. But I know the solution to this, I will have so much free time now that I'll be less productivity focused, I will be able to listen to my emotions.

This thread is really amazing. I have never heard the advice about doing the same thing every single day (ie 800 steps) when bouncing back. That is really neat and I'm going to write it down so that I can reference it at some point.

brunetteUK - thank you so much for continuing to update about your experience. I think you are helping out a lot of people on this forum!

Thank you @StarBright, I'm really happy to help! :)

@brunetteUK, thanks so much for starting this thread and updating it so regularly.  Also thanks to the other posters for their contributions.  Because of this and a similar thread started by @Imma, I decided to leave my job at the end of the year (1-2 years earlier than I was planning).  The health effects of long-term stress and burnout are just dangerous, but I was in denial, I think, before reading all these experiences at the forum.  Seeing my own symptoms described over and over by others made them more valid, I guess.

Oowwwnnn, it is so amazing to hear this @Life in Balance! Well done!!!

What worked for me is to travel alone. I went to Asia, where it's fairly cheap to get hotels, etc. Camping is another alternative; Europe has an excellent series of trails for hiking or biking with affordable camp areas along the routes, or you can do what I do, which is stealth camp with a hammock.

Traveling alone is psychologically difficult at first, due to loneliness. It does, though, clear your head, and give you a chance to gain perspective. I found myself seeing stuff I was doing, like perfectionism, that I had had no awareness of before. I slept well. I eventually found a way to do what a fellow traveler told me I needed to do to overcome the loneliness: learn how to be a friend to myself and create a good time on my own.

Good luck.

Hi @Onnagodalavida ! When I have more energy, I will consider travelling alone :)

For those that are trying to be consistent with the amount of exercise etc that they do every day. One thing to bare in mind if fluctuating hormones may be a consideration, is that hormones can have a really marked effect on energy levels, ie you can go from the most energy you have at the moment, to the lowest energy level you have, within hours sometimes. This can add an extra layer of complexity if you are trying to work out how much you can do. If it might be a consideration it could be worth tracking things for a few months.

That's very true @afterthedark. I used to think I was a robot that could do the same thing every day. Of course that's totally silly. Once I started paying attention to my ups and downs, I started adapting to them and it's much more peaceful and effective.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on September 10, 2019, 11:35:50 AM
This is a great thread.  I think I might be really close to life burnout.

My husband has been traveling a lot.  This is week 3.  I have a full time job, two kids at two schools, and I'm training for a race that is on Saturday.

Well...all the things.  During the 3 weeks husband has been traveling:
- week 1, early orthodontist appt for kid 1, husband flight home canceled on Friday, didn't get home until Saturday. Emergency laundry during week.
- week 2, back to school night for kid #2, at least no travel snafus.  Another laundry day.
- week 3, back to school night for kid #1.  (This week). Another emergency laundry week (bed wetting). Also I have to admit that my  hip has been bugging me for over a month.  I've been ignoring it because: when do I have time?? So the race is gonna suck.  And to top it all off, after I dropped off the kids this morning, my car battery died.  Because that's EXACTLY what you need when your husband is in Ohio, his car is in the long term lot at the airport - oh and he has the parking ticket in his wallet.

It wouldn't be so bad - I mean, I can work from home.  I've got friends who can shuttle my kids, and honestly, kid#1 walks home half the time (1.25 miles), and kid #2 school is only 0.7 miles.  Except THIS week is a big meeting week at work, and I have to be there.  And it's on Thursday.  So awesome.  I just made an appt to have the car checked out today, assuming the thing starts.  My next door neighbor "why didn't you ask for help??"  Because the car died AT SCHOOL and you were already AT WORK.  Sigh.

But I am so so so so done.  I mean, I can't just stop.  I'm it right now.  I soooo wanted to go to bed at 7:45 last night.  But the kids have homework every.single.night (how do I help the 7 yo when I have 2 hours of back to school  night??)

I was also suffering from burnout late last year and husband suggested that maybe I go visit a family member or another (both of which were going through cancer treatment).  All I could think was "I'd love to see them!  BUT SHIT, then I'm just STILL taking care of people."

I just ate the rest of the leftover gluten free carrot cake.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Gail2000 on September 10, 2019, 08:18:19 PM
This is a great thread. 

I was also suffering from burnout late last year and husband suggested that maybe I go visit a family member or another (both of which were going through cancer treatment).  All I could think was "I'd love to see them!  BUT SHIT, then I'm just STILL taking care of people."

I just ate the rest of the leftover gluten free carrot cake.

So I am quoting the parts of your trials I most resonate with.

I am amazed at your super powers. Carrot cake is a fine reward for the Weeks Murphy came to visit.

Why are we so hard on our selves? Why is it times like these where I suddenly am ok with having a sister wife?
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: WalkaboutStache on September 11, 2019, 12:28:26 AM


How is your burnout recovery been going so far? A few of us needs tips and comiserations around here ;)



Going great!  I am on day 3 of my sabbatical.  It was a struggle to get here and your post hit on my last week or so at work.  I am still sleepy and tired a lot of the time, but I am doing what I need to do and resting a lot.

It looks like you are on the right track for you.  Hang in there!

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on September 18, 2019, 02:19:14 PM
This is a great thread.  I think I might be really close to life burnout.

My husband has been traveling a lot.  This is week 3.  I have a full time job, two kids at two schools, and I'm training for a race that is on Saturday.

Well...all the things.  During the 3 weeks husband has been traveling:
- week 1, early orthodontist appt for kid 1, husband flight home canceled on Friday, didn't get home until Saturday. Emergency laundry during week.
- week 2, back to school night for kid #2, at least no travel snafus.  Another laundry day.
- week 3, back to school night for kid #1.  (This week). Another emergency laundry week (bed wetting). Also I have to admit that my  hip has been bugging me for over a month.  I've been ignoring it because: when do I have time?? So the race is gonna suck.  And to top it all off, after I dropped off the kids this morning, my car battery died.  Because that's EXACTLY what you need when your husband is in Ohio, his car is in the long term lot at the airport - oh and he has the parking ticket in his wallet.

It wouldn't be so bad - I mean, I can work from home.  I've got friends who can shuttle my kids, and honestly, kid#1 walks home half the time (1.25 miles), and kid #2 school is only 0.7 miles.  Except THIS week is a big meeting week at work, and I have to be there.  And it's on Thursday.  So awesome.  I just made an appt to have the car checked out today, assuming the thing starts.  My next door neighbor "why didn't you ask for help??"  Because the car died AT SCHOOL and you were already AT WORK.  Sigh.

But I am so so so so done.  I mean, I can't just stop.  I'm it right now.  I soooo wanted to go to bed at 7:45 last night.  But the kids have homework every.single.night (how do I help the 7 yo when I have 2 hours of back to school  night??)

I was also suffering from burnout late last year and husband suggested that maybe I go visit a family member or another (both of which were going through cancer treatment).  All I could think was "I'd love to see them!  BUT SHIT, then I'm just STILL taking care of people."

I just ate the rest of the leftover gluten free carrot cake.

@mm1970 - I'm sorry I haven't replied to you earlier. How have you been?
Almost everyone suggested I take a holiday or have invited to go and stay with them for a while.
For people who are mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted, I would not advise doing any of that.
You need time for you. Where? In your life, the life you see, smell and touch everyday. The life with kid #1 and kid #2.
That is the life that needs adapting to you; not you flying away somewhere else to rest and then coming back to the same conditions that got you burned out.
I'm not close to your finances but money is a resource. I would strongly advise people to use that resource in order to assist recovering from burnout. Big meeting when car is broken? Take a taxi. I've been taking Uber quite often because I literally can't do with public transport. Wooowww, so expensive, so unnecessary. But let's keep things in perspective; it's £200 in a month. It's a crisis expense, not inflating my lifestyle, it's using a resource when needed.

2 things:
One) Obviously you sound burned out; consider taking crazy drastic measures before the memory loss/throwing up/fainting/being on sick leave for months before you are forced to take them due to full burnout.

Two) Careful with coping. You might ease up on a few things and start coping with your busy life better. That just means you will buy yourself a couple of more months before you are square where you are now. Consider taking things away from your to-do list permanently; making permanent changes to build a sustainable life.

Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on September 18, 2019, 02:50:38 PM
Burnout update: I have some energy! I can leave the house and go some place where there are people, noises, commotion and so on for a few hours. Not everyday but say once a week. I can leave and go somewhere quiet but still public and chat to a friend for a few hours, a few times a week.

I've started meditating and I'm not going to say it has changed my life or had any significant impact. It just is very nice to sit still, let my thoughts get organised, feel the emotions, pay attention to my breath and then come out of it feeling a bit more calm. It feels nice to give my brain a break.

The main takeaway of my burnout reflections so far is this: we put a lot of value on cognitive skills, on being a smart cookie, on having brainpower, on being book smart. Yes, that's important but it does not make a life. It's like building a table with two legs; it migh stay standing but any little tremor and it won't stay up.

Here are MMM land, who are the people we love to hate? The ones who never look at their bank statement! They have no idea of what is happening to their money! They don't have any strategy to manage it! They close their eyes shut very hard, say they don't have any options and there is nothing they can do better, they are just doomed to fail.

I've been like that my whole life, with the emotional stuff. I just knew the situation was bad. But I didn't want to know how bad. Was it the equivalent of 10k in debt or was it more like 100k debt at 30% interest rates? Why face it when I had no idea how to address it? Why think about it when it got me so depressed? It seemed all trouble and very little reward.

I'm struggling big time to accept that I'm changing, that I will have a "new" personality. That the way I work will change. That I will ask for my needs to be met by the people whose needs I aim to fulfill. That I will meditate and talk about all that woo woo self-care stuff. That I will prioritise my wellbeing and say no other things (practical example is drinking alcohol; I enjoy going to the pub with my colleagues on a friday, I enjoy going out dancing with friends, but my enjoyable alcohol limit is 2 glasses which is very party-pooper and I will get much pushback on it).

A big part of who I am is to be very diplomatic, accomodating and passive. But some extent of that will change. My big burnout struggle is not so much deciding what needs to go, what needs to change, it's a lot to do with accepting who I am, accepting the limits, facing reality that I can't achieve everything I set my mind to.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: WalkaboutStache on September 19, 2019, 07:31:46 AM
Burnout update: I have some energy! I can leave the house and go some place where there are people, noises, commotion and so on for a few hours. Not everyday but say once a week. I can leave and go somewhere quiet but still public and chat to a friend for a few hours, a few times a week.

I've started meditating and I'm not going to say it has changed my life or had any significant impact. It just is very nice to sit still, let my thoughts get organised, feel the emotions, pay attention to my breath and then come out of it feeling a bit more calm. It feels nice to give my brain a break.

The main takeaway of my burnout reflections so far is this: we put a lot of value on cognitive skills, on being a smart cookie, on having brainpower, on being book smart. Yes, that's important but it does not make a life. It's like building a table with two legs; it migh stay standing but any little tremor and it won't stay up.

Here are MMM land, who are the people we love to hate? The ones who never look at their bank statement! They have no idea of what is happening to their money! They don't have any strategy to manage it! They close their eyes shut very hard, say they don't have any options and there is nothing they can do better, they are just doomed to fail.

I've been like that my whole life, with the emotional stuff. I just knew the situation was bad. But I didn't want to know how bad. Was it the equivalent of 10k in debt or was it more like 100k debt at 30% interest rates? Why face it when I had no idea how to address it? Why think about it when it got me so depressed? It seemed all trouble and very little reward.

I'm struggling big time to accept that I'm changing, that I will have a "new" personality. That the way I work will change. That I will ask for my needs to be met by the people whose needs I aim to fulfill. That I will meditate and talk about all that woo woo self-care stuff. That I will prioritise my wellbeing and say no other things (practical example is drinking alcohol; I enjoy going to the pub with my colleagues on a friday, I enjoy going out dancing with friends, but my enjoyable alcohol limit is 2 glasses which is very party-pooper and I will get much pushback on it).

A big part of who I am is to be very diplomatic, accomodating and passive. But some extent of that will change. My big burnout struggle is not so much deciding what needs to go, what needs to change, it's a lot to do with accepting who I am, accepting the limits, facing reality that I can't achieve everything I set my mind to.

This is awesome!  Your self reflection really worked and it looks like you are emerging.  Congratulations!!!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Loretta on September 21, 2019, 03:58:50 AM
Iím glad you have more energy and can do a few hours with friends, thatís great!
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: mm1970 on September 22, 2019, 04:00:40 PM
We are slowly recovering. It is super hard on everyone when hubby travels. We are both exhausted. And on top of the dead car battery, turns out it was actually the starter. Then our fridge legit died yesterday. Ice cream melting when I woke up in the morning.

It has been an expensive month, but that is how MMM has helped. I booked two trips (thanksgiving in Sequoia and Hawaii for next summer, my 50th). We fixed the car. We bought a new fridge. Did not even blink.  It will take another few weeks though to really become normal.

I have offloaded, I think, the biggest crappy work project. A thankless job.
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: brunetteUK on March 08, 2020, 11:07:41 AM
Life (kind of) after burnout!

It has been many months since I came for you all for help and I wanted to write down what it feels like to be on the other side of burnout. If it gives someone some hope, even better!

Because my body pretty much stopped, I am now much more aware of it.
I didn't understand my physical limits before, I didn't give myself enough sleep, I over scheduled fun activities, I put too much emphasis on "doing", "accomplishing", "producing". The result was that I couldn't eat, I woke up with nausea, I had pain in my stomach and I lost 10% of my body weight in a month. I couldn't walk for long and had no strength. I also had zero, zero, zero libido, it was as strange and alarming as having nausea all day.

Nowadays I can do very gentle yoga. I can walk 20 minutes to the tube station. But still cannot exercise harder than that. And it's ok. Sometimes I have something planned and I have to cancel because I'm tired. Last week, when my work asked me to travel to France for two days, I asked for a day off the previous Friday, I needed the rest to be able to do the travel. A couple of months ago I went back to my home country, I flew direct even if it was more expensive and I did not move around like mad.
Regarding the bad tummy, I have been seeing a nutritional therapist who gave me a paleo style diet and many supplements to take. We're continuing treatment and it made a clear positive impact on my body.

All in all, my body needs attention, my body literally gives me many signs of being tired, tight or unwell. Nowadays I pay attention to it and it rewards me back.

My mind has recuperated, somewhat.
One aspect of burnout is that your cognitive abilities simply stop. I could not make simple decisions, I could not read an article, let alone a book. TV series were too hard for me too follow.
This has improved in the past six months. I can now work and my brain is functioning. But burnout taught me to be selective with how I spend my brain power. I read waaaaay less than I used to read. I do waaaay less work at work. And I allow myself plenty of "no thinking time" so I don't have to be focused any more than needed.

I'm a bit bummed I don't have the super brain I used to have but it will do.

Emotional problems need emotional solutions.
Having burnout was so devastating, I could not believe I had failed so badly. I ate well, I exercised, I was pleasant to people, I didn't have crazy toxic relationships, I nurtured my friends, I seeked challenging work. How come I ended up in such a bad state?

But nowadays I'm thankful because one of the first things I thought when the doctor gave me my sick leave was that "everything can stay the same, I don't need to aim for a single improvement, a single change in my life. I will just allow myself to be a breathing creature, failure or no failure, I'm alive and that is all. I am just going to exist. Everything I did up to now is enough. I can just be from now on".

Plus I had a massive heartbreak. I cried for five months over someone I went out with for four weeks. (now, bloody seven months later, I still can't talk to the guy for three minutes without breaking down in tears later). So I needed help, not to tell myself I was being unreasonable and illogical. I went to a psychologist in London and when twice a month sessions didnít feel like enough, I got in touch with a psychoanalyst from my birth country and we are having a session every week now.
Now I see the guy had only little to contribute to all the tears, it was all past trauma, old, ignored pain.

My point here is that reaching burnout is a long process and it probably has emotional aspects to it. Once I was out of the deepest physical and mental burnout, the best thing I did was to consider what emotional wounds and warped thinking led me there. And that is the advice I would give everyone, be gentle and kind to yourself. Allow yourself to have a breakdown and let go of the paradigm that got you to burnout.




Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: Life in Balance on March 08, 2020, 05:18:59 PM
Thank you for sharing your update!  It sounds like you're doing much better. 
Title: Re: How do you recover from burnout? ALL advice and compassion appreciated
Post by: okisok on March 09, 2020, 06:23:27 PM
i was wondering how you were! Thank you so much for sharing and updating.