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Rest or Recharge: Understanding the Best Way to Cope with Burnout

Updated: Dec 28, 2023


This week, 'Therapy Begins with Tea' steeps on the difference between rest & recharge and offers a body based check-in to help you navigate burnout.


burnout

Therapy Begins with Tea is a weekly newsletter based on the themes that come up in my sessions as a therapist who specializes in imposter syndrome, attachment styles in romantic relationships, and our psychological relationships with money. Each week consists of a 'steep' in thought reflection, an accompanying body based check-in, and tea card intentions for the week to come.



'Steep' in Thought (3-5 min)



Burnout: What it is and why is it so difficult to fix?

Alas, the sweet taste of rest from the Thanksgiving holiday is gone and we’re right back to the regularly scheduled programming of end-of-year countdowns. For some, stuck at their desk, bored & begrudging, the clock seems to tick backwards. For others, the urgency of deadlines, personal and professional, is an overwhelming frenzy. And for most, we’re running on reserves this time of year.


Burnout is the experience of complete mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion from the prolonged and excessive stress of our jobs. When we’re burnt out, we’re not only tired, we also feel distant & disconnected -- from our job & from life. We become increasingly critical of ourselves & our ability to perform our job roles competently, let alone find any sense of fulfillment in them. We feel hollow.



The antidote to burnout

The coping strategies that we’re used to no longer seem to work -- if anything, they feel like just another thing on our list. And when we tell anyone how we’re feeling, we’re told to just rest. That’ll fix the burn out.


We do need to un-plug sometimes -- the distance gives us space to rest, relax, and refocus our energy. But the weeks (or months) of rest we truly need is rarely, if ever, accessible to us. Fortunately, the antidote to burnout isn’t actually un-plugging -- it’s changing up what we’re plugging into. It’s taking inventory of the people & places that recharge & restore us. And that usually takes one of two forms -- we lean towards experiences that remind us of something bigger than ourselves, like nature, or we reconnect with our inner child & with the things that brought us joy when we were younger (reading, sports, collecting, crafting, etc.).


Because when we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to get through the week, we need more than rest: We need to feel full again. Check out the full body check-in below to practice the balance of un-plugging & plugging in to recharge. 




Full Body Check-In (2-4 min)




We start with the breath. And today, we’re going to count it. Inhale through the nose and count to four as you feel the air enter your body. Now hold the breath for a count of four. Notice how it sits in your body. On the exhale, release the air in a sigh as you count to six. Let’s go again. In for 4. Hold for 4. Out for 6. Repeat. 4-4-6. Feel your body energize on the inhale, be still on the hold, and relax on the breath out. Feel free to change the numbers, keeping the exhale longer than the inhale & hold.



When you’re ready, I want you to imagine that like a machine, or a coffee maker, or a TV, you too are plugged into a power source. Instead of sleep, this is where you get your energy -- to work, to work out, to socialize, to run errands, to go about your day. Now, imagine the plug that connects you to it. When it’s clear in your mind, take it in your hand and gently unplug it. What does that feel like? Where do you feel it in your body? Does it feel like relief, like taking off your shoes after a day of walking? Does it feel like a shut down? Or something in between? Make note of where you feel it in your body.



Now, imagine yourself outside. You’re in the forest, green all around you. There’s a slight breeze and the light is soft & warm. Take hold of the plug connected to your body, bend down, and push it into the ground. How do you feel? What do you feel? Where do you feel it in your body? Do you feel energized? Do you feel connected? Do you feel replenished?



Your answers to these questions can help guide you in deciding what you need more of right now -- the relief & stillness of unplugging or the replenishment & connection of plugging into an other power source. Try this out throughout the week.





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