Dear soft hearted loves,
These are particularly tense times. Some are reaching the point of burnout more than once during this pandemic. If your home, school or work duties have never hit the point of burnout you may confuse it with depression or general stress that wouldn’t be there if you didn’t have these duties. I believe burnout during pandemic is different than burnout during other times because it has that trauma flavor a lot of suffering during the pandemic has.
There are several assessments accessible online to determine if you are at risk of burnout. One of the main ways we can spot burnout is when we start to talk with less compassion or more irritability toward people or situations we would have more understanding for typically. Burnout can be an indicator of how we can be gentler and easier with ourselves. It can also be a time of reflection to see if internal or external resources can be gathered or if decisions or boundaries can be adjusted. All this is easier said than done so let’s look at it piece by piece.
Self-Love #1: Boundaries
This is a time when we can reflect on what is in our control and what’s not. Taking a brief inventory of what we can and cannot control around work or home boundaries can remind us of our choices and limits. Addressing the areas we can adjust can highlight more autonomy and efficacy. If we try to change our work schedule a bit and management won’t budge than that’s something to reflect on too. You can even work with a trusted person, coach, therapist, or psychologist to support your boundaries.
Self-Love #2: Gut health
Gut health is known to be correlated to other types of health including mental health and the immune system (says folks at Harvard*). Mental health and immune system benefits sounds like double good news for us during the pandemic! That may mean you increase your water or greens if that’s accessible to you. Western medicine is just starting to learn what people all over the world have intuitively known about the mind-tummy connection for many years. For example, we know that in Iran they refer to areas in the tummy to indicate love (rather than in the heart like they often do in the US).
Self-Love #3: Water
When I worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital we would ask patients about dehydration and water intake. We’d share information with patients about how important water is for our mental health I’ll share the same with you now. Water helps with mental health including depression. We can balance some of these intentions such as drinking more water with gentleness with ourselves when we miss the mark sometimes too.
Self-Love #4: Sleep
Protect your sleep if possible. Folks are reporting more and more difficulty with sleep these days. What do you need to help with your sleep? Establishing a bed time routine and getting within a frame for general sleep and wake time can be helpful. We know that light from our phones or other screens tells our brain we should be awake so no phones in bed is ideal too. Let’s be realistic though, these times are hard and coronavirus has our routines and technology all mixed up. We want to give ourselves boundaries around bed time routine, sleep/wake schedules, and technology much like we would to a child. We might not fully restrict a little one from technology before bed by giving them Friday and Saturday nights to use technology and school nights to stop using phones about 30 minutes before bedtime. We too can compromise with ourselves. Check out this article by UC Davis** for an extra dose of compassion towards our sleep issues during this time.
One of the most helpful tips around sleep is to get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Using bed only for sleep and sex is really helpful. When we do something less stimulating like read a book or meditate when we can’t sleep it’s more helpful than laying in bed tossing and turning or more like shaming and spiraling. Please be gentle with yourself around sleep issues, especially during these times.
Self-Love #5: Support
Talk with your supports and docs. Please do share with safe loved ones about your burn out. Talk with a doctor/therapist/healer about it too. You are not alone and you can get the support you are so worthy of tapping into.
With a soft heart,