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What is burnout?

Burnout is emotional exhaustion — the fatigue that comes from caring too much, for too long. It happens when you get stuck in the emotion.

We know how it feels in our bodies. We know how our emotions crumble in the grip of it.

Emotional exhaustion has a serious negative impact on our health, relationships, and work!

And here’s an understatement: Burnout is highly prevalent. In America, 20 -50 percent of “people who help people” like YOU experience burnout.

What do we do about it?

Emotions are tunnels. Burnout is when you get stuck in the emotions. To avoid burnout and emotional exhaustion we need to consistently go through the tunnel and complete the stress cycle. We must let our bodies know that we can stop being stressed. If you go all the way through the tunnel, you get to the light at the end.

What are most effective ways to avoid burnout?

Here are Emily Nagoski’s seven top ways to complete the stress cycle and avoid burnout:

  1. Movement

Do any kind of exercise that you like. Go for a bike ride or walk.

  1. Deep slow breaths

Breathe in to a slow count of 5, hold that breath for 5, then exhale for a slow count of 10, and pause for another count of 5. Do those three times — for one minute and 15 seconds of breathing — and then see how you feel.

  1. Positive social interaction

People with more acquaintances are happier. When you have casual but friendly social interactions, you will send your body a signal that the world is a safe place. Say hi to people on the street.

  1. Laughter

Laughing together, and even just remembering about the times we’ve laughed together, increases relationship satisfaction.

  1. Affection

Give your child or partner a warm hug. Petting your dog or cat for few minutes can help complete the cycle too.

  1. A big ol’ cry

You may not have changed the situation that caused you the stress, but you can complete the stress cycle with a 5- 10-minute cry. Watch your favorite tearjerker movie where you cry every time Going through that emotion with the characters allows your body to go through it, too.

  1. Art

Do some writing, drawing, painting, play with clay, music, or tell stories. These all create a context that gives you a chance to move through our big emotions.

How will you know if you completed the stress cycle?

Your body will tell you. You might experience it as a shift in mood or mental state or physical tension. You might breathe more deeply, and your thoughts may relax.

If you have spent your whole life holding on to your worry or your anger, you have a lot of stress response cycles spinning around inside you. It’s going to take a while to get through the backlog. Keep going through the response cycle.

All that is important is that you start to recognize that you feel a bit better than you felt when you started.  You will start to move toward more peace. You sure deserve that for that you do for others!

This important information came from Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s book on Burnout:  The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.

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