Guest Blog by Nouha Chraa of @wordsbynouha
‘It is never too late to reset your system.’
This quote stuck with me for days after I read Megan Swan’s latest interview in Medium. Why?
Because that interview made me realize I had the chance at a clean slate. I could restructure my life and get it right this time.
For a lot of women, burnout feels a bit like running into a brick wall. You used to be someone who got things done. You were productive, balanced, and happy – making forward progress in all areas of your life.
Suddenly, that person becomes a stranger. As burnout sets in, even getting out of bed to face the day becomes a stressful chore. All that forward progress comes to a standstill, and you’re left with a sense of weariness that can suck the joy out of even your most beloved pastimes and pursuits.
I am one of many women who has suffered from burnout. I can say from personal experience that the worst part of burnout is that your energy levels don’t align with your aspirations. There are things you just can’t bring yourself to do – not because you’re lazy, but because you’ve given your all and it wasn’t enough.
When women experience burnout it’s natural for them to want to blame things and people outside of themselves for it. That might mean their job, their coworkers, their kids, their partner – any person or thing that contributes to their workload. This instinct isn’t unfounded. The fact is women frequently have a lot more on their plates than men.
On top of our work duties, we’re often expected to manage households, raise children, and care for others. Coming home from work doesn’t offer a respite from the expectations of others.
Though burnout itself is bad enough, it’s often the habits that we develop because of it that hurt us the most. We begin to stay up late worrying about our commitments. We start ordering takeout to save time. We binge-watch shows on Netflix to make ourselves feel better. Then we wake up the following day and wonder why it is that we feel even worse.
Defeating burnout is more than just fixing bad habits, though. According to Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, “We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from.”
What does that mean? It means that if your only goal is escaping your burnout, you won’t get very far.
In their book, Emily and Amelia explain that if women want to overcome burnout, they need new, positive goals to replace their negative ones.
Instead of simply saying ‘I don’t want to feel burnt out anymore’, take some time and decide how you do want to be or feel. Do you want more free time? Do you want to feel that serenity within that keeps you grounded in the face of any event? Do you want to become more intentional about your lifestyle and start your day with a clear mind? Do you want to be more physically fit? Once you have a clear picture of your positive goal it will be much easier to rebuild your life in a way that allows you to accomplish it.
To summarize, the way to beat burnout once and for all is to reconnect – with yourself and the world around you. You need to mindfully build your life in a way that supports your positive goals.
To achieve this, Megan Swan recommends a six-pillar approach: clean eating, quality sleep, movement, community connection, an outlet for creativity, and a mindful practice.
Once you adopt this approach through small changes in your everyday life, you’ll start to feel the difference right away. You won’t return to normal – the person you were before the burnout struck. You’ll be better. A newer You, getting one step closer to your Highest Self.
For the past 10 days, I’ve tried to implement this approach in my own life. It’s the best I’ve felt in months. I can wholeheartedly recommend that you do the same, starting today.