I lay in child’s pose, tears falling into the shag carpet of the living room floor on a Wednesday morning. The unexpected loss of my favorite tree, an ancient silver maple, triggered me. This 80 foot giant stood at the corner of my balcony and enveloped my fifth floor apartment, making it a tree house of sorts. I love trees and my home is a sanctuary for my soul…but my response was a bit of an over-reaction, even for me.
As I processed the grief, I saw it. The weeks on end of business planning and marketing consultations, networking meetings, and cramming to meet deadlines. Stressing about projects getting off track and details falling through the cracks. Days and days of multitasking, not enough sleep, and too much Facebook. As a result, here we are: burned out.
Symptoms of Burnout
Therefore, I felt extra emotional. Going through the motions to get things done. Seeking solutions from mechanical thinking without listening for creative intuition and flow. Feeling disconnected from myself and my life. Sobbing on the floor. Just like my tree, I seemed healthy on the outside, but felt hollow on the inside.
Essentials vs. Necessities
In the preceding weeks, I did the essentials of self care. I took yoga classes, exercised, saw friends, and enjoyed fun places and new activities. While completing them felt good, it seemed something was missing. Like being connected to (buying and preparing) nourishing healthy food and listening to my inner voice via journaling. I had no “free” time or stillness to deal with whatever might rise to the surface of my awareness.
Without the necessities of self-care, my capacity to deal with the ebbs and flows of life was severely compromised.
As I wailed, releasing the conglomeration of stuffed emotions, I remembered that this is my pattern. Then, I gently acknowledged that I catch myself sooner than I used to. I take space to process and adjust priorities, then choose what works better and move on.
Ultimately, burnout invites us to simply realign ourselves to what’s most important and reallocate our energy accordingly. That’s exactly the lesson nature offers us day after day. My tree could no longer sustain itself. It had been pruned, and redirected its energy 2 years ago. Yet its trunk was already hollow and its branches threatened to fall. Its energy will now be redistributed as mulch and compost.
As you look in your own life… What cycles are complete? Where might you withdraw your energy? To what might you redirect your energy? Please share in the comments below. If you’d like to talk through it, get in touch with me. Or, join the next online workshop of 3 Keys to Beat Burnout & Energize Your Productivity, Purpose, and Soul.