Burnout is a reality.
but is it really a problem?
You know you’re stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. You say it all the time.
But everyone is…aren’t they?
We’re all pushing and striving and reaching for the top. And if you can just push through this rough patch, you’ll get some rest around the next bend.
Not so much.
Burnout doesn’t just make it hard to get through the day — it literally damages the structure of your brain.
It’s not something you can push to the side, ignore, deal with later. Kind of like you can’t hold your breath right now and just make up for it by taking in more oxygen when you have time.
You can’t productivity hack your way out of it, or take a quick vacation to “recharge.”
Because burnout doesn’t exist in your circumstances — it’s in your nervous system.
“…emerging research shows that the chronic psychosocial stress that characterizes burnout not only impairs people’s personal and social functioning, it also can overwhelm their cognitive skills and neuroendocrine systems — eventually leading to distinctive changes in the anatomy and functioning of the brain.”
– The Association for Psychological Science
The Biology of Burnout
When scanned with fMRI technology, the brains of patients diagnosed with burnout mirrored those of people who’ve suffered early childhood trauma.
Why? Because your nervous system is elegantly designed to help you assess and deal with daily threats to your survival. One of the ways it does that is to oscillate between two branches of your autonomic nervous system: the sympathetic and parasympathetic.
You would know them as “fight or flight” and “rest and relax.”
What happens in cases of trauma — or burnout, which is a form of chronic, low-grade stress — is that the nervous system gets locked into sympathetic activation, like a dimmer switch stuck in the fully on position.
Basically, you’re operating in fight or flight all day, every day.
What this means is that burnout is not just a state of exhaustion that can be cured with a few nights of good sleep but rather a chronic, low-grade form of trauma on your nervous system that drains your energy, saps your creative juice, sabotages your relationships (it’s hard to have much empathy and compassion when your biology is fighting for its life) and, ultimately, degrades your health.
(Yeah, surprise, those aches and pains and stiff joints aren’t just a symptom of “getting older.”)
for ambitious creatives, operating at peak performance is imperative.
You’re like a Ferrari.
But when your nervous system is suffering the effects of burnout, you’re redlining your engine just to get through the day to day.
Translation: you’re headed for engine failure.
What’s (possibly) worse is that chronic burnout causes an enlarged amygdala — the fear center of your brain.
That means that not only are you revving your engine to max capacity, but you’re unable to make rational decisions based on a qualitative assessment of all factors. Instead, all your actions and decisions will be driven by fear.
Here’s what burnout does to you:
Loss of passion
Sore, aching muscles and joints
Digestive issues and complaints
Cynicism and detachment
Lack of motivation and creativity
Daily fantasies of escape, usually to an isolated, uncomplicated life
Feeling a lack of personal or professional accomplishment, or regret for past decisions that led you to your current state
An inability to move forward in any direction — decision paralysis
So, what do we do about it?
The approach I employ for healing burnout (and making sure it doesn’t come back) is two pronged:
- First, we address the aspects of your nervous system that are frozen in fight or flight.
- Second, we expand your window of tolerance to enable you to handle more chaos and frenzy.
Because, let’s face it, life’s not going to get any simpler. High-performing creatives need to handle whatever the world throws at them — without sacrificing your health and sanity in the process.
I use a body-based approach because, well, burnout is in your whole system — not just your brain.
Ready to Get Started?
Schedule a risk-free Escape Hatch Consultation.
During this hour-long consult, we’ll do a full assessment of the impact burnout is having on your business, health, relationships and creative endeavors. You’ll have the opportunity to ask all the questions you need while simultaneously getting a feel for how we might work together.