“Burnout comes from trying to give what I do not possess.” ~ Parker Palmer
Do you move through your day, running on empty, until you crash? There isn’t a drop of energy left at the end of your day, not for you or your loved ones.
As a parent, I find it’s natural to give of ourselves. We want the best for our kids, so we give, get, and do for them without even thinking about it. And if we aren’t careful, we take on their problems as our own or give of ourselves until we are completely drained.
Of course, giving more of yourself than you give to yourself doesn’t just happen in parenting, it can also be true for the workplace, in your marriage, and with your extended family. If you are taking on others problems, you probably feel overwhelmed, because you feel responsible without any authority to change the problem.
I think this leads to getting burned out on your life. Meaning if you are giving more of yourself than you reserve for yourself, you will probably end up irritable, tired, and simple things will stress you out.
Stress in the Context of Family Relationships
It’s so important to not just think about reserving time for yourself, but also to think about the challenges you are up against in your family. How do others get you to do more for them? Do they convince you that they can’t do it without you, or is a reality need that they can’t do it for themselves? Or maybe you think no one will do it as well as you will. There are so many possible ideas and behaviors that would fuel taking on more than is our responsibility.
Of course eating well, exercising, and meeting your social needs will help you deal with stress. But if you don’t figure out how you get depleted in the first place, you will keep having to relearn this lesson again and again. Good self care can be drained once you go home and start overdoing it again.
People, biochemicals, and hormones aren’t the only thing that can get out of balance, so can relationships. What goes on inside a person impacts what goes on between people, and vice versa. Meaning what goes on between people also impacts what goes on inside a person.
This is why it’s not enough to just carve out time for yourself, you also have to think about how you get yourself in a spot where you are revved up and others around you are stalled or idling. If you are doing it all, no one else has to think for themselves, nor experience consequences.
Questions to Spark Your Burnout Awareness
The first step in any change is to increase your awareness. So stop, slow down, and ask yourself these questions:
- How much do I want to be in service to others, and how much energy do I want to reserve for myself?
- How do others get me to do more for them (even when they can do it for his/herself)?
- What would it take for me to begin shifting this pattern (doing less even when others don’t do more)?
Realizing you have more choices than you originally thought can be just the jump start you need to move from burnt out to thriving.
Relationships and emotions are complex. Schedule a consult today to discuss what you are learning about yourself and how your relationships impact your health.
Photo Credit: “Universe in a Drop” by Hartwig Koppdelaney