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Has your life become an endless routine of getting up, and either looking for a job or working at a job that doesn’t seem meaningful, coming home too tired to make a healthy dinner, and no time or energy left to engage with family or friends? Maybe you can’t sleep well because something is missing from your life but you can’t quite put your finger on it? Perhaps you’ve gained weight from stress, too much eating out, and having no energy left to work out?
We all experience burnout in different ways, and it can sneak up so gradually that you may not even notice it until one day you suddenly want to scream, “That’s it! I quit!!” at your boss or even your life.
Odds are, you may not be able to leave your job, or stop looking for work, or eliminate the chores and tasks that need to be done at home. We need to keep paying the bills, and most of us aren’t lucky enough to just drop everything and start fresh anytime we experience burnout.
“There are different strategies to deal with and move through burnout, but the healing process (because this does require healing) often starts with one thing—telling your boss. Yes, I know that’s a scary prospect, but here are some ways to get yourself ready for the conversation and prepare you to take positive steps forward to get past this tumultuous time.” – themuse.com
What can you do? How can you get back the motivation and energy that you need, the spark in your eye, and even a glimpse of happiness and excitement when you wake up in the morning?
When I reached the point of burnout a few years ago, I was unable to leave my job or do anything too drastic. And, I didn’t necessarily hate my job; I just didn’t find it personally satisfying, plus I was chronically stressed out. Knowing I was reaching my breaking point, I set aside time to really examine myself and my life, and I looked at what was important to me, my purpose in life, and what I find meaningful and valuable.
learning New Skills
I discovered that I value learning new skills and helping people, that I thrive when I’m directly helping people and making a difference in the lives of others. Then I looked for opportunities related to those things. You know what checked all the boxes for me? Massage school! It sounded crazy to me, too! I already had my Ph.D. and a successful career, and when I started mentioning my massage school idea to others, I definitely got a lot of strange looks.
I started massage school a few months later, and that was the BEST year of my life. I still worked at my stressful job every day, but I didn’t mind it because I kept thinking about what I was going to learn in class that evening. I woke up excited, and I found the personal satisfaction I had been missing.
Even though my schedule was much fuller, I was more alive, motivated, healthier, and more present for my family than ever before. Numerous people commented on the spark in my eye that twinkled every time I talked about massage school, and I’m so thankful I took the time to look for opportunities to address what was meaningful and missing in my life.
And, upon graduating, I opened a small private massage practice, which continues to bring joy and purpose to my life.
~ On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no burnout and 10 being completely burned out, how would you rate your current level of burnout? (Write it down).
~ Write down a list of things you value or find meaningful. For example, is it important to you to help people, rescue animals, or protect the natural resources on the planet?
~ Write down topics that interest you, inspire you, and excite you. Just let the ideas flow onto your paper without judgment or concern.
~ Place checkmarks by three topics that interest you the most, that are also aligned with the values from your first list.
~ Spend time to look for opportunities that are available related to them. Can you read some articles online, locate a workshop or course to learn more, or talk to someone who knows about the topic?
~ Select one thing you want to focus on, and look for a variety of opportunities available locally, online, and at a distance. Note the costs and time requirements, and start making plans.
~ Now go for it!
After a few weeks, months, or even a year, revisit your level of burnout and rate it again on the same 1-10 scale. Has your number dropped? Even if you are at the same job, and you added things to your schedule or routine, are you feeling better? Keep looking for opportunities throughout your life that reflect your values and make you tick, and even if you aren’t able to do them full-time, you will still be fulfilled, living your best life.
About the Author:
Dr. Ann LeFevre is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Massage therapist, and a Certified Acupressurist. She is the founder of Restore Body and Soul, a health and wellness enterprise designed to meet the therapeutic needs of the whole person using research-backed Western and time-tested Eastern techniques. Restore Body and Soul offers counseling for concerns such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and PTSD, as well as therapeutic and acupressure massage, workshops on self-acupressure and other health and wellness topics, and hand-blended bath and body products created to enhance wellness and relaxation. After working as a psychotherapist for nearly 20 years, Dr. LeFevre has decided to share a series of lessons in her book, Live Your Life: 14 Days to the Best You, that have inspired countless clients to take control of their lives, manage stress naturally and holistically, enjoy lives filled with meaning and value, and to start living the lives they always dreamed of.