Balancing Passion and Self-Care: My Battle with Burnout

I loved what I was doing, until it took over my life.

People prone to burn-out usually share this wonderful quality of putting their best into what they are doing with full passion.

`I am good at what I am doing, my results far outrun others, I am rocking it!`

Probably they are right too.

Not long ago, my life took a weird turn. Loving what I do, I found myself commuting for long hours across the city for my sessions and classes; squeezing gazillions of chats and messages on the drive as I were the #lincolnlawyer. While doing that I was still stressing about not doing enough for the many projects on my plate.

My Battle with Burnout

I forced myself to do some gym-hours and meet-ups with friends here and there, but most of my days ended with ordering in and emptying my mind by binge-watching. 

After a few weeks like that, I noticed that my eye started twitching. That was the first warning sign. 

But all the coming weeks were already scheduled?!! 

So, I had to keep going

Then came the many many moments, when I would open up an app or a page on my laptop not knowing why I did that. I kept staring and staring and staring some more. Maybe after an awkward amount of time it would dawn on me. 

My mornings started with checking urgent messages and scheduling around meetings, sessions and all. I`d be all on board with my clients and participants but felt totally disconnected from my circle of friends and family. There was absolutely no desire in me to meet or even hear from anyone at the end of a work-day. I just wanted to check out

As humans we are pretty much like onions, you un-skin a layer, another one pops right underneath. The same goes for our tendencies. This hype of dedicated busy-bee dynamic most often has its own layers of shadows like unworthiness, compensation or avoidance when you dig deep. 

3 Mindful Ways to Recover from Burnout

However now I`d like to focus on one of the end-results; the FREEZE response of our nervous system. 

All that disconnection, numbing checking-out behavior, dreamy, yet-empty states of mind, dulled senses and dimmed-off life are the typical symptoms of a nervous system so challenged that it goes into freeze-mode. 

The strength I had to snap out of that level of dissociation within a matter of weeks rather than months and years as some go through, was meditation. Having cultivated an easy access to the state of witness consciousness, I was aware of what was going on and I knew what I needed to do:

  1. Stepping out of the cycle: I booked myself an unplanned trip that would be my `deadline` for this flow. Stepping out and being in another environment can widely change one's perspective and bring freshness. A lot changed after that breather in my reality. 
  1. Quality connection: At those moments, any `entangled` or demanding connection may make things worse. Who makes you feel good and grounded? Whose presence makes you feel lighter and more peaceful? Old friend, mentor, family or a bunch of strangers volunteering for the same cause and cleaning a beach together? Whoever it is for you, go for that. The right kind of connection heals; not the ones you feel the pressure of attending to.  
  1. Meditate: This is the time when our soul yearns for intimacy with the Self. The key that unlocks that door could be meditation.  

I`d love to hear your go-to's when frozen:)

Do you remember when you decided that being busy is a good thing?

I do. 

While I grew up I always had my personal space physically and I am grateful for that. However, having space as a person is another story.

I am not born into the culture of parenting where the child is asked or checked in with about what she really wants to do or not to do. We had to flow with the family whether we liked it or not.

I remember sitting at loooong family visits where everybody spoke in a language that I didn't speak. So I just sat and smiled when needed and sat some more. 

Don`t get me wrong, I had lots of quality time in my introverted life; I read like a maniac, drew and wrote occasionally, created little dance routines inspired by my favorite artists, and had long phone calls with friends. 

Society and Constant Busyness

However they all felt like a luxury that I get to have whenever I get a chance rather than my ` right ` and could be interrupted at any time whether I liked it or not.

Then I found the magic word that gave me all the personal space I needed. ` busy `. 

My father was always excused for missing a dinner or a family occasion because he was busy with work. Then I noticed that this applies not just to my father but everyone else around me. When somebody is busy with something ` serious ` like work or study then they get a green pass. 

So I got busy.

I remember that I wasn't necessarily the best in my early years at primary school. But the more my need for my privacy increased the more successful I became. Not the only reason of course, I cannot put aside my ambitious parts. However the freedom of staying in to study instead of doing something I had absolutely no interest in rocked!

As life went on, I witnessed again and again how working like a dog gets you a pass whereas taking care of your personal needs is considered unimportant and even selfish; therefore looked down to. 

Finding Balance in a Busy World

No wonder that studies show 75% of workers experience burn-out; managers more likely, if not slightly more so. 

As a self-led entrepreneur, to this day I still feel the tension between the two polarities of martyrdom and self-centeredness. Their balance is the golden middle path I am trying to walk on. This quest is teaching me precious lessons and is profoundly liberating.

There are many more ingredients to the recipe of burn-out that I will get into but let's start with this.

When did you decide to be busy? 

Copyright © 2024 Inner Contemplation LLC. All rights reserved.
closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram