Burnout can sneak up on you.
The first time I experienced burn out I didn’t know what it was. A likely story from an over-functioning, people pleasing, carrying-everyone-else’s-load, woman in her 30’s.
I tried to deny it. I was working as a Counsellor at the time and when my supervisor called what I was experiencing Burnout I told her there was no way. I had boundaries. I was good at “emotions.” I was wrong. When I finally admitted it I was so burnout, It took me a year and a half to recover. And, I mostly recovered in secret. I was ashamed, and felt a lot like a failure.
In the months of recovery I would sleep and sleep and cry & read & journal. Then, when I gained some energy and equilibrium back in my body, I believed that I was over it! (foreshadowing)
With burnout firmly in my past (phew) I went full steam ahead on all my new ambitions (and people pleasing, and over-functioning and getting value from carrying everyone else’s load.) Ugh. It took another 6 or 7 years but I burned out again (you aren’t surprised).
The second time I had burnout I was much smarter about it. I was not ashamed, and didn’t recover in secret. I was compassionate with myself. I set better boundaries. I took the time to understand some of the patterns that were leading me in this destructive direction and gave myself time to practice and change those.
And I didn’t do it alone. I built a team of supporters. I learned everything I could about Nervous System Regulation. I healed the beliefs and wounds that led me to over-functioning & people pleasing.
And when I decided not to keep quiet about burnout what I noticed was, I was far from alone.
Burnout is only normal in a culture that promotes hustling and end-results above well-being.
So many business owners are feeling it. But what I also noticed is that many business owners believe one of two things:
1. That burnout is a normal and inevitable part of entrepreneur life.
2. That the experience of burnout means they’re failing.
After experiencing burnout twice and applying all I know from 10 years of working as a Mental Health Counsellor and 8 years as a small business owner I know that neither of these are true.
Burnout is only normal in a culture that promotes hustling and end-results above well-being. Feeling worn out, exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, confused or discouraged are all normal feelings when you’re doing something new, difficult or challenging, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable either. Experiencing burnout isn’t a failure. It’s your body’s response to prolonged stress and exhaustion. It’s what you do when you encounter those feelings that matters.
Feeling worn out, exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, confused or discouraged are all normal feelings when you’re doing something new, difficult or challenging. It’s what you do when you encounter those feelings that matters.
If you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, confused, discouraged and tired of spinning your wheels, it’s definitely time to pay attention.
I’ve written about three of the biggest signs of burnout here. Slowing down a little bit to notice what’s happening can be really empowering and help you break out of a downward spiral.
If this is all sounding a little too familiar to you and you’re looking for more support, grab a copy of The Preventing Burnout Workbook to help you pay attention to your warning signs and uncover strategies that can help you find more balance, clarity & energy and stop burnout from taking over.
If you need more support I can partner with you to create some custom strategies and help you incorporate some new practices that will get you back on track and away from burn out with an Alignment Coaching session.
Burnout Sucks, but you’re not alone. I hope you find these resources helpful.