Hi, lovely ones. Thank you for joining me this episode as we continue our discussion on burnout. burnout has changed the trajectory of my life. And because it’s such a big topic, and there’s a number of crucial elements to it, I’m breaking it down into four episodes.
In this episode, I want to talk about how to recover from burnout. And if you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to listen to episode number 22, which is the first episode in this four part series where I discuss the signs and symptoms of burnout.
And Episode Number 23, which is the second episode in the series where I talk about the causes of burnout.
This episode follows on as the third episode in the series and we’re going to explore how we recover from burnout.
To start with, I want to shout out Tracy K who left a review after listening to the podcast and Tracy says:
“Love this podcast. Last year I did a one week online course with Rebecca and it was truly wonderful. she interacted and responded to every one’s input and did so in a safe and judgement free place to be. She’s direct and honest, which I love no pretence that she knows all the answers either. I found some people in the self help space, give the impression that if you follow them, you will hit the jackpot and it is so not true. Rebecca gives real advice and simple strategies to implement into your daily life and find what works for you. Thank you, Rebecca.”
Thank you so much, Tracy. That’s such a thoughtful review.
I want to start this episode by saying that if you’re feeling burnt out right now, lovely ones, I want you to go gently as you listen to this series of episodes.
As we talk about burnout. In my experience, it can go either way, you could breathe a sigh of relief and feeling recognised and acknowledged. Or you may feel tense and overwhelmed, because you’d really love an answer to it.
All right now Thank you very much. I get it. And I promise that we’re going to get to all your questions, but in a measured way so as not to overwhelm you further.
And to honour the fact that burnout is complex and develops over a long period of time.
So the question I want to answer in this episode is how do we recover and heal from burnout in order to be well and productive again, you’ll be used to me saying this by now.
But there are a lot of factors here and there’s no one size fits all treatment plan that I’m going to reel off to you.
I would never patronise or invalidate you like that. Instead, I’m going to ask you to take the tips in this episode as suggestions to try on and see how they fit for you and your lived experience.
Some will intuitively feel better for you to try. Others might not resonate, and others might actually feel quite confronting.
For those that might feel confronting, I invite you simply to sit with that for a little while and ask yourself if it’s confronting because it feels difficult and out of reach.
Ask yourself if it’s confronting because it’s one of those hard truths that are difficult to swallow. Ask yourself if it’s confronting, because you never planned on being in a place where you had to make these decisions in the first place.
Confronting ideas don’t necessarily mean they are ideas to avoid.
Sometimes they speak to the very ideas that will offer you a new path and greater alignment if you give yourself the chance to try them. And I think this is true for burnout globally.
If you give it the chance to teach you, then it can be an incredible lesson in doing life better. And by better, I mean better for you and more closely connected to your values, yourself and your people.
In terms of healing from burnout, I want to start with the concept of changing the very foundation from which you’ve operated up until the time when burnout started to show up. This is what I had to do.
When burnout first started to show up for me, I was operating from a place of perfectionism, very high expectations of myself and very rigid standards for myself and my practice.
I thought doing more meant I was more as a person. I think thought being more productive was better.
I thought the more people I could see in a day meant the more change I could create in the world. And in order to recover from burnout, I had to shift all of that psychologically.
I had to shift the fact that I was tying my worth, to my productivity, I had to reframe how I saw myself as a helper, and what it meant to be a helper with boundaries.
I had to completely restructure the way that I saw my downtime, and how important it was, there was a whole shift in priorities for me in order for me to be able to recover.
But my recovery first started with actually listening to myself, not just for being myself off, not just dismissing my symptoms, but really, truly listening.
And what I heard was, please stop, we are done here, please stop, I need a break. And then I needed to stop and look at the source of the burnout.
And when I saw how complex it was that there were factors within me contributing, there are a lot of factors in terms of the type of work that I did a lot of factors in terms of the population that I was working with.
So I was doing a lot of trauma based work in emergency services, personnel, like police and ambulance officers. And also, I did a lot of work with the military. And they’re also factors in my environment.
So I was quite isolated, I did a lot of things myself, I wasn’t great at asking for help. And in order to recover, all of that had to change.
I essentially had to reboot my entire operating system. So for you to recover, I want you to start with doing the same, you may not have to reboot your entire operating system. But I do want you to start with listening to yourself.
And I do want you to listen to the message that burnout is trying to tell you. And then I want you to stop continuing to do the same thing and expect a different result.
And I say that as gently as I possibly can. And as someone who gave that a good go for about five years.
Oh my goodness, did I really hope that that that was the answer for me that I could just keep doing the same thing. And I’d get a different result at some point.
It’s not true, not true at all actually had to stop. And then if you’re the same, if you’re the same as me and you have to stop doing less is not going to be an option for you, you actually know you have to stop and then please understand that stopping may not feel comfortable.
So sometimes when you stop after you’ve been in a state of kind of flurried, work output. Even if some of that was done while you were feeling bisha and cynical and disengaged and shut down, then stopping can actually still feel wrong, it can feel very unfamiliar and foreign.
You might not know what to do with yourself or with your time. But this period of uneasiness is part of the process of moving through burnout.
It’s part of the process of recovery that you just need to accept in order to get to the place where you can finally focus on restoring your resources.
If you don’t think you need to stop completely, then perhaps there’s some immediate changes that you can make in the way that you’re working or in your business itself.
You could perhaps lower your workload or take a break, like take a proper holiday, you could ask for help. Or you could start delegating or both.
If you can do those things immediately and then sometimes just being able to lighten your load to take things off the plate can go a really good way to be able to treat the burnout.
But if you burn out is kind of a solid and thara as mine was if it if you’ve done a good number and yourself like I did, then we’re going to have to attack this from a number of angles.
Okay. The first is emotional self care. One of the most profound things that I learned to do during my period of burnout was to provide myself with nurturing mainly through radical self compassion.
I became my own parent. through that time, I was learned to speak to myself very gently to I lower my expectations to lower my expectations of others as well.
I think what burnt out really taught me is where I was being judgey judgey of myself and judgmental of others.
You know, when you become a parent, and all the things that you thought about parents, before you were a parent, kind of rolled your eyes out, and oh, my kid wouldn’t do that.
And then you become a parent, you think, Oh, shit. There’s a lot of screentime going on in this house, isn’t that fair, now did the same thing for me, you know, I started to become so much gentler on myself.
And in doing so, I became so much gentler on other people. I mean, I was always gentle on my clients, but not necessarily on the people closest to me, coming from a family who are very blunt and direct.
Sometimes I could offer that same bluntness and directness to the people that I love most. But burnout really softened my approach to the world.
And it shook me up from where I was previously quite rigid about things, to instead, understand that burnout happens to so many of us because of that rigidity, because we’ve got such high expectations that there is no flexibility whatsoever.
I also sought therapy. And I really encourage you to speak to your doctor or your mental health professional, because it’s such a powerful space, to be able to work through what’s led to the burnout.
And to make a plan for coming through the burnout to the other side, it can also help you to be able to have someone there that can see you from an outside perspective, because sometimes we can’t see what our own recovery is going to look like what my image.
I also encourage you to reframe the pressure that you’re putting on yourself, rather than saying it is burnout and seeing it as something that is defective about you, and want you to understand that what it points to instead is something that’s actually really valuable about you, which is the fact that you care.
At the thing is in recovery from burnout, you need to learn to care about other things other than work and business as well. It’s kind of like a ray distribution of the things that you care about.
It’s a redistribution of your care across all areas of your life a little more evenly, rather than just devoting all of this to work and productivity.
And also in the realm of emotional self care, I want you to learn to allow yourself to stop and rest, which means learning to rest effectively.
You know, I’m not talking about resting productively, although there is a place for that. But when you’re burnt out, there’s not.
So I remember when, when I closed my practice, I didn’t know what to do with myself at all did I know, I was actually quite annoying to be around. Because I became like a, I was like one of those flies that just jumps from surface to surface and you move so fast.
That you can’t even keep track of it visually, in all the things that I was trying to do to find some way to direct my energy.
Rather than resting when I first closed my clinical practice, I threw myself into archiving my clinical notes, I spent a month archiving bits of paper and scanning them into my computer saving them.
So I’ve got them, we’ve got to keep notes for a certain number of years. And then I got even worse. So once that job was done.
My sense of being unsettled, spread throughout the house. And I was cleaning out cupboards, I was cleaning out wardrobes I was decluttering like you wouldn’t believe it took me some months to be able to come to a place where I could just be and do nothing.
And it wasn’t until then, that my burnout recovery actually started to take shape. So in the context of burnout, when I’m talking about rest, I’m actually talking about proper rest.
I’m talking about reading, nanna naps, you know time in nature, not time where you’re taking off a to do list.
There’s no place for that in recovery from burnout, until you start to feel some of your energy come back. And recovery from burnout also includes physical self care. So I want you to think about sleep.
So making sure that you’ve got really good sleep hygiene strategies. You can simply google sleep hygiene and a whole list of strategies will come up and you need to make sure that you’ve got good nutrition.
So when we get burnt out, our body gets depleted. And so please make sure that you see your doctor for perhaps a blood workup to make sure that you have adequate vitamins and minerals in your city. To help you recover, be mindful of adrenal fatigue as well.
That’s not my place to speak on because I’m not a doctor.
But I do know that once you get incredibly, emotionally depleted adrenal fatigue can often go with that. So please talk to your GP about that.
And please be mindful of things like caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and other substances, because they warp the functioning of our brain. Quite often in times of burnout, we rely on those substances to keep us going.
But what that does is disrupt the balance of all the neurotransmitters that make us feel good.
So again, talk to your doctor about what’s going into your body, to make sure that you’re nurturing it in the best way possible, so that your recovery has the best chance possible.
And also, as part of physical kit, self care, please include movement and sunshine and nature. Nature is being out in nature is incredibly grounding for our bodies.
Burnout is a messenger that is screaming at you that you need grounding and timeout. And when I say movement, I don’t mean that you need to go and run five kilometres a day, 10 kilometres a day, go to the gym six days a week.
A recovery from burnout is not about using the blank space in your schedule, to fill with all the things you decide you should be doing. I’m talking about movement movement for nurturing only.
Recovery from burnout also includes getting smart with boundaries, especially learning to say no. And I want you to understand that while you’re recovering from burnout,
Your tanks are still being restored. And that means that there’ll be a period when you just simply won’t have the capacity to do what you used to do.
You just have to accept that you can’t resign from your job or decide to take a holiday or whatever it is that you’re doing to stop the previous pattern of burnout, that was exacerbating your symptoms, and then think that the next day, you will feel fine, it doesn’t work like that recovery actually takes quite a long period of time in order to be able to fill up our tanks again.
So during that time, you need to honour the fact that your tanks are still low, rather than introducing all these social activities that you now have to do, or all these things that you know kind of hobbies that you’ve wanted to learn.
This isn’t a time for a long to do list of non work things. It’s a time of recovery and meeting your needs as you go.
If you’re still working during your recovery from burnout, it’s about learning boundaries around work, how you leave work at work, and how you set time limits around work.
So especially if we work from home, what time do you start? What time do you finish? How do you stay out of your office space so that you’re not working while you’re in your family life while you’re doing other family things, I mean, sometimes it’s it’s not that easy.
Sometimes it’s not perfect, there’s not a distinct line in the sand. But when you’re recovering from burnout, you really need to prioritise that line, and make sure that there is time where you get away from work.
As part of your recovery from burnout, I want you to communicate with your loved ones. Talk to someone you trust and actually lean on your friends, you don’t have to do this alone. Sometimes we assume that we won’t be supported.
Because burnout is such an isolating process. And so we assume that the supports not available when actual fact the problem is that we haven’t asked for the support in the first place. And if you have a partner, be honest with your partner about where you’re at, and speak it out loud, so that you can approach this as a couple.
So that you can actually be nurtured in the way that a relationship allows you to be nurtured. And then also as part of your recovery from burnout, one of the most important phases is reconnection and reconnecting with what’s important when it’s not just about work. Yes, works important. Having a purpose is important.
But what else is important if you were to get a rhythm back in your life, what would be important as well as work? And how do you then prioritise that in your schedule and reconnect with joy?
When we get burnt out, one of the first things we do is stop doing things for fun. Do you remember what you do for fun? And if you don’t, it might be about getting in touch with your inner child to Stop being silly, again, to stop being frivolous to start doing things just because they’re fun, rather than just because it’s something productive to do and part of the recovery from burnout.
connection with inspiration and reconnection with inspiration, in a sense that this business venture that you’ve gotten burnt out from might not be your permanent business venture, you may need to look at something else that you want to do.
The career path that you’re on that’s burning you out might not be where you want to be, you might have a passion for something else.
So if you actually allowed yourself to entertain those options, what would they look like? And finally, reconnect with abundance.
And by this, I mean, how could you reframe the possibilities around money? Like I said to you, when I stopped clinical practice, I walked away from my sole income, and I didn’t use income protection insurance, I chose the option of using the equity in my house to live off until I was well again.
Now I understand that that’s a privileged position to be in. But what I want you to think about in terms of reconnection with abundance is what else makes you feel like you’ve got enough if it’s not about money, because that’s sometimes what we can do with work is we make it about money.
I’m doing this because of the money, the money is good, the money is safe, I need the money. And yes, Money makes the world go round.
We need it to meet our needs on a daily basis. But if you can reconnect with perhaps the fact that you have someone that you love in your life, and someone that loves you in your life, the fact that you have the choice to be able to choose a different career because you’ve got all these skills available to you.
The fact that you could pursue a different audience or target market in your business. How could you reframe abundance, so that abundance isn’t just about money anymore, because that’s what burnout taught me.
One of the most important things that taught me was that, at the end of the day, you know, when I’m like 85, if I’m lucky enough to get to that age, I am not going to give a shit how much money is in my bank account.
I’m going to care about who I loved and how I love them. And that’s what abundance is for me. Now, there have been a whole series of questions that have been sent to me around recovery from burnout, and I want to address each of those questions individually.
Someone asked how to overcome trauma of burnout to become productive again. The first thing I want to say to that is if you are feeling traumatised by your burnout, it’s not time to be productive again.
That means that you’re still in the process of recovering from the burnout itself, from reframing where you sit in the world where you sit in work or in business, what it means to be you and your level of productivity, all of those processes, and the emotional processing that goes with that needs to be done first before you even think about being productive again.
So, if burnout has harmed you enough that you consider it traumatic, then I would strongly encourage you to work with a therapist or a doctor and work for as long as it takes to be able to do the emotional processing.
And then you’ll find that as you do that processing, becoming productive again, doesn’t seem so overwhelming.
And in terms of overcoming burnout itself. Listen to this episode again for that list I’ve just been through, because all of those things make a difference.
Another question I’ve been asked is how should not feel guilty for taking time out from a job due to burnout, and comorbid symptoms of depression and anxiety.
One of the things that occurs as part of a solid recovery from burnout is that we learn to put guilt on the table as an unnecessary emotion.
Because one of the things is that if you don’t start taking care of yourself, then no one else is going to do it for you. As an adult, nobody else can do it for you.
And I mean psychological Care of Yourself show there are lots of ways that we as adults care for each other physically and behaviorally.
But in terms of your own psychological care, part of being able to recover from burnout is understanding that you have needs and that those needs are valid, and that you have every right to meet those needs.
So in terms of how not to feel guilty for taking time out from the job, what that’s about is being able to shift your mindset to a place where you see yourself as worthy of respecting those needs, and the need to be able to take a break to rest.
It’s about accepting your humaneness. It’s about accepting that there is nothing defective about you for being able to do that, often needing to do that.
So, in other words, if guilt is showing up for you, because you need time out from the job, then I want you to first address what it is about your self worth, that’s making you take on that guilt.
And then secondly, if the guilt is coming from co workers or from your boss, then I want you to re consider how healthy this workplace is in the first place.
Because if you’ve got co workers and a boss that are putting pressure on you, because you need time out for burnout, and that tells me that there’s some kind of toxicity, some kind of toxic culture in the workplace around not taking rest.
The next question is how to find the discipline again, to become productive again, after taking a break.
Finding the discipline, I think is about trusting yourself to be able to come through burnout and still want to participate in the world. If you’re worried about whether or not you’ll be able to find the discipline, again, that tells me two things.
One is that your burnout recovery might not yet be at the level that you want it to be at to be as productive as you’d like to be. And the second thing is that perhaps you don’t want to return to the thing or the job role or the business venture that made you burnt out in the first place.
And therefore, you’re not going to be disciplined to be productive if you’re asking yourself to do that.
So instead of might be about finding inspiration. Again, it might be about finding the motivation to be able to move towards something that lights the fire in your belly again. So two things to that discipline to be productive.
If you don’t feel it yet, it might be because you’re not recovered yet. And if you feel like you’ve given yourself a long time for recovery or enough time, and there’s everything else kind of seems to be falling into place, but you just don’t feel ready to return to work. It could be because you just don’t want to do that work anymore.
So look at your other options and give yourself permission to seek inspiration elsewhere.
Another question that I’ve been asked is how do I recover and still meet everyone’s expectations? I love this question so much because it speaks to a burnt out Rebecca Ray.
The thing that’s most important with this is firstly, how do you meet your own expectations and recover?
Because I honestly think that for high achieving people, and for people that put a huge amount of pressure on themselves, it becomes really difficult to say yes, you can stop, yes, you can take time out and still see yourself as worthy.
So the question is, firstly, how do you take time out and meet your own expectations. And that means that you’ve got to shift those expectations in the first place, that you are human, and that you are worthy, and that you deserve the respect, and the nurturing, to be able to rest.
And in terms of meeting other people’s expectations. I think one of the things that burnout does is it makes us assume that everyone else is putting the pressure on us that we’re putting on ourselves. And I think that’s actually really true.
So I think that’s more about communicating to others, what your needs are, that you need time to be able to rest that you need time to be able to recoup those personal resources in your giving tanks.
And I think you’re probably going to be very surprised at how gentle other people are with you during that time. And if they’re not, then that says something about those people and whether or not they’re healthy to continue being a part of your life.
I’m not saying that you need to get rid of them. I’m just saying that. In some workplaces, there is not space to be human.
There’s not space to accept that. Sometimes you fire on all cylinders. And sometimes you need to spend some time recharging yourself to be able to do that again. And if your workplace doesn’t give you that space, then it isn’t really the workplace you want to continue in.
But especially I want you to look at whether or not you’re giving yourself permission to recharge because it could be about your own expectations.
Um, I’ve also been asked the question, What do what do you do when you’re self employed and recovering From burnout means no income. I’ve spoken a bit about this because that’s exactly what I went through. So think about using income protection insurance, if that’s available to you.
Think about communicating with your partner. If you’ve got a partner and you share finances, it could be an option where your partner is able to take the financial load for a while while you have a break.
And think about other options available to you. So, especially in this time of the pandemic, you might find that your bank is more supportive than usual in being able to give you a little breathing space on your mortgage, or a little breathing space on your other bills and payments that need to be made.
And also consider whether or not there is money available to you, if you will allow yourself permission to ask for it.
So asking family members for a loan during this period of recovery, or perhaps thinking of things that you can sell around the house, just to get you through for a period while you’re looking after yourself.
As far as burnout is concerned, my deep belief around this is that your health is priceless. And you just need to do what ever you need to do to be able to recover.
Even if that sets you back financially a little bit. In my experience, I’m now making money far more easily and from a place of flow, doing work that I’ve never loved so much in all my life with more time available and in a way of working that I could never imagine would be this good prior to burning out.
So burning out kind of flattened me to the point where I had to re evaluate every aspect of my life. And in doing so I changed how I thought about money.
And that meant that I ended up finding a better way to make money an easier way to make money that didn’t drain me. But money is no longer the thing that I’m after I’m after quality of life. And the money that I make supports that. So I want you to think about that if you’re self employed as well.
Think about your options in terms of the possibilities that might be available to you that you’re not actually giving yourself permission to look at because you’ve had really high standards for yourself, probably financially, and you’re probably a really sensible person, and you take pride in making sensible financial decisions.
But trust me, the most important decision that you can make is for your health over your finances at this point. And then I had a question, which I think is a really valid question.
I’m surprised this wasn’t one of the first questions, actually, which is how long does recovery take? And you’re gonna hate me for this answer? Because the answer is I don’t know.
The answer is how long is a piece of string? And the answer is, how many symptoms have showed up for you? How long has it been going on? How many other things in your life are complicating it because those circumstances are difficult?
It’s really hard to say mine took about 18 months. And then I tried to go back to clinical practice after 18 months, and I went back to clinical practice for so it had 18 months off completely.
And then I tried to go back to clinical practice for another 18 months and just learned during that time that I was done. I just had nothing to give it. Even though I was doing a dramatically lower number of client sessions, then I was pretty burned out.
And I knew then without an attachment to it having to be a certain way that I just couldn’t do it anymore. So that’s what on and off for three years. It took me to be able to come to the other side and go this is what I need.
Now. I’m not saying it will take you that long. I’ve had people DM me and say it took them six months. I’ve had other people say I just needed a really good holiday for weeks.
And I’ve had other people say I still don’t feel like I’m fully recovered. It’s an ongoing work in progress for me. And I think that’s important to note as well. And then I had a really interesting question, which is how do you know you’re fully recovered? And I found these questions so interesting.
And I put it out to social media. And he’s the responses that I got back from a stack of people who were able to look at their own recovery process. And they said, I knew I was fully recovered:
- When I could sleep at night again.
- When I wasn’t filled to the brim with anxiety.
- when I wasn’t comfort. eating every day.
- When I was okay having lazy days and not panicking about how much I have to do.
- when I was okay with not being perfect.
- When I started to treat myself respectfully again.
- When it felt like I could breathe again, like there was space in my life.
- When I felt excited about my career again and could make plans for the future without feeling anxious.
- When I was able to do small tasks, again, like the basic tasks of cooking, and grocery shopping, and laundry, and when those things no longer felt like huge things, I knew I was back.
- When the same comments, commands and passive aggressive communication came from my colleagues, but it just bounced right off me. And I was able to recognise it without being affected by it.
- When I was able to better organise my workload and time.
- When I was able to shrug off the negative energy from others.
- When I quit, because I realised i’d outgrown the space.
- When I get began to work normally without forcing myself to work as hard as before.
- When I could feel that I was just karma and my adrenals were no longer fatigued.
- When I resigned from that job.
- When I took a six month position elsewhere.
- When I took two years off on income protection, and they requested I returned to the role, and I knew the right answer was to resign,
- When I could stop and just be without feeling guilty
- When my menstrual cycle returned to its normal pattern.
- When my mind stopped racing, 24 seven.
- When it comes to recovery from burnout, I want to acknowledge that you may not be the same person that you were before lovely ones, you may not be able to do the same things that you did before. I’m certainly not the same as I was before I was burnt out.
I think I’m better rather than a recovery to who I used to be. My burnout became a path of evolution, and I never want to go back to who I was.
So for me, I knew I was fully recovered when my expectations changed. Basically, I didn’t expect myself to be as I was before, I let go of perfectionism in comparison to imposter syndrome.
And I totally changed my expectations around how I showed up in work in business. I make the same difference.
Now. I’m creating the same legacy now. On a much bigger level, without the same risk of burning out because I’m doing it completely differently.
I hope this episode has been helpful in looking at how we recover from burnout. There are no perfect answers, and I strongly encourage you to talk with your doctor or mental health professional.
If you see signs of burnout showing up in yourself. In the final episode of this series, we’re going to talk about how to prevent burnout in the first place.
So please tune in to that episode for the full picture of the burnout continuum.
And if this is a topic you need more of, then in a couple of weeks, I’m hosting a live webinar all on burnout and how to move through it. The webinar is free.
And you can just go to Rebeccaray.com.au/free that’s fo r e to register. And if you can’t attend live, don’t panic because you’ll be sent to replay as long as you’re registered.
I’ll catch you next Tuesday for the final episode in our series on burnout. Lovely ones thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray.
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