{You can take about 10 minutes to read this or just listen to the soothing sounds of my voice read it to you right here!}

My dear friend Ed Chow recently posted this on his Facebook wall:

"For the last couple of months, I've been feeling lethargic and exhausted.  I hate to admit that I'm burnt out.  So instead of doing anything, I roll in bed for hours before getting up for a shower.  The boxes of books in my new flat are still unpacked.  It's such a chore. Also, I couldn't find the energy to get to the gym, complaining of the lack of sleep, etc. It's a vicious cycle."

Can you feel the deep level of his confession?  Can you relate to what he is expressing?  His words are raw and relevant.  Ed was experiencing a kind of behavioral paralysis that burnout causes.   I nickname it the "oh, crap!" moment when you suddenly wake up to the widespread inner turmoil bubbling inside your body and mind.

How the heck does burnout get birthed?

Burnout grows gradually.  It creeps not pounces.  The inner heat slowly brews to a boil from micro-moments that cause stress.  These moments wiz by.  They appear innocent and manageable on the surface.  But each one creates an inner sting.  When a sequence of stresses agitate the body and mind, the temperature intensifies.  The big news is that these moments go undigested.  What does that mean?They are unprocessed feelings that you store and lock up.  They give you either a mentally or physically scar.  You miss the body/mind signals or you ignore them, leaving you moving towards behavioral paralysis.

What do those signals look like? 

Here's an incomplete list: silly mistakes, small accidents, muscle fatigue or tired eyes, not able to maintain focus, stopping good habits, beginning unhealthy habits or re-engaging in old ones.  The tired eyes example remind me of time I had sushi with a dear friend in NYC who held a high powered job at a cable network company.  While sharing a California Roll, he fell asleep!  And it kept happening.  Short little moments where he would doze off.  I honestly didn't know what to do.  When I mentioned what was happening, he admitted to his fatigue and stress.  He explained that he had become reliant on those mini-naps so he could regain his energy for his non-stop schedule.  This approach causes a disconnect to the body/mind and seeds the potential for burnout.

So what is causing you to miss the vital signs of on-coming burnout?

We all partake in some level of adaptation to push through.  And when done too often and unconsciously, that "push through" becomes a numbing agent.  To admit you are burnt out is a realization you stayed out in the sun too long without the awareness of proper "protection."  This lack of awareness causes people to over medicate to push through to get a good nights sleep, to stay awake through the day, to quell the anxiety or counteract the depression.  The body/mind signs are present; you just are missing them. 

When you miss the signs too often is when you begin to reach more often for the "discomfort dissolvers" which could be any number of worldly addictions -  prescription drugs, alcohol, or smoking.  As Ed Chow stated, the path to burnout creates a "vicious cycle."  The spiral is very hard to stop and overcome.

What steps do you take to stop the cycle or avoid it all together?

I believe the solution to burnout begins with forming a deep respect for the body and mind.  Much like the slow build-up of burnout, so too will be the gradual journey to finding an authentic reverence for the body and mind.  Respect for the body/mind is nurtured in the micro-choices you make: 

  • when you choose to go to bed and wake up

  • how and what you choose to eat

  • how you choose to sit, how often you take breaks

  • how fast you speak, walk or drive

  • what you focus on (where is your attention)

  • how you choose to nurture your inner life

When done consciously, each one of these micro-choices weaves a life of fluidity and authenticity.  The sensitivity to the body and mind ultimately lifts your consciousness to a higher level.  This is the root of the work that I do as a Lifestyle Concierge, giving you all the tools and means to take you where you want to go in life.  Through practices  (ideally daily) like deep breathing, mindful meditations, body movements, you learn to skillfully read your body and mind and adjust your compass with less effort or worry about the pain of change.  Contemplation is organically born out of this self-inquiry and becomes the nucleus of your life.  It helps you focus on the vital details that allow you to connect to Self and the vastly rich and meaningful world.  With intentional action, burnout can be mitigated with grace.

Oh and what about Ed Chow.  Did he find his way out of the burnout?  Good news, after Ed Chow wrote that post, he went to the gym! It was a step in the right direction.  

Let me know how I can help you avoid burnout.