What is Burnout & Why do we feel so guilty when we aren't being productive?
- Mental and physical exhaustion
- A lack of motivation
- A feeling of hopelessness and sense of failure
What is so interesting about these symptoms that they seem to be almost completely the opposite of the nurse/carer archetype.
Presumably if you work in these professions you are a highly empathetic and compassionate person that cares for people, right?
So how did these idealistic and empathetic individuals become so jaded? How could someone with these traits start to resent the very people that they are supposed to be caring for?
Is it because they are bad people?
Far more likely, is that when you are working to care for other people, caring for yourself and putting yourself first can almost feel like a betrayal to those that are relying on you.
It can make you feel guilty.
This is something that many of us do regardless of if we are nurses or carers - if you've ever said yes to something you should have said no to, then this act of putting others before your own well being can lead to resentment and more drastically - burnout.
In January 2021 I made a video about how I was burnt out and wasn't sure of the future of my small candle business 'MDT'.
After I posted it - I was so shocked by the amount of messages and emails I received from people telling me that secretly they had been feeling the same.
I was absolutely stunned.
I realized that behind the smiling faces of Instagram so many people were also feeling the stress of burnout and quietly soldiering on.
I decided to start a podcast to talk about burnout called The Burnout Brigade.
My hope is that by discussing burnout, interviewing guests about their burnout experiences and sharing any insights about my own personal meltdowns it will make people feel less alone. And that actually no one has their shit together 100% of the time.
My Burnout Story
It was my first Christmas trading in my candle business and the stakes were high.
I so badly wanted this to be a success. It was September 2019 and I had used up all of my annual leave in my corporate finance job until the end of the year.
Despite this - I still booked a small business market every Saturday and Sunday leading up to Christmas, leaving me with no days off until the new year.
I had also signed up to be a mentor at a school in East London, as well as committed to studying to become an accredited accountant.
I would work at my day job Monday-Friday, make candles in the evenings, pack the car on Friday nights for the markets all weekend - and then read accounting textbooks at my stall and sell candles.
On Mondays I would answer emails and schedule admin tasks that weren't too draining and convince myself that this was my 'day off'. I would then trek into London in the evenings to give talks and organize activities.
For a while this schedule made me feel good.
My friends would say things like "I'm convinced you're a psychopath" and "You're a real glutton for punishment, I could never do that".
This made me feel good - superhuman even.
I lived my life like this for a while - ignoring my internal signals telling me that something was wrong.
Then in January 2021 everything came to a halt.
I was told by my suppliers that due to stock issues - the materials to make our candles weren't being shipped to the UK anymore.
I was absolutely devastated.
I felt depressed, defeated and like everything I had worked for was ultimately pointless.
Because reaction that I had was so disproportionate to the situation at hand - I started to feel like maybe sourcing a new candle jar wasn't going to fix my problems - and actually the problem was my relationship to work.
I needed to sever the tie between my productivity and my self worth so I made some drastic lifestyle changes.
I decided to close my business, I put in a proposal in my job to work part time and I got myself into therapy.
In the last 6/7 months I have been practicing self care in ways that I never have before and I can honestly say that I have learnt to feel complete without a fully ticked to do list.
When I think about my story I think that it honestly comes back to the guilt that those nurses felt. The guilt of not feeling like you are enough - the guilt of not working towards your dreams and being 'the best version' of yourself.
The guilt of not doing the things that you deem to be more important than you.
When you practice self care you are making a statement to say that you matter.
That this version of yourself is important and good enough, not just the more successful version of you that you strive to be.
Let me know what rituals and activities you have planned to let your current self know how important and worthy you are.
Until next time x