The Gift of a Burnout

*As a disclaimer, I need to emphasize that I am not a mental health expert. I am not trained to identify, treat, or support mental health challenges.  If you feel that you are in, or heading into a burnout, please see a professional for help.

Over the past 12-18 months (maybe more, it’s really hard for me to know), I’ve been in a slump.  I’m not motivated.  I’m not overly engaged.  I have no drive or ambition.  I’ve come to recognize that I’d essentially hit a burnout.It’s a hard pill to swallow, particularly when you’re in a leadership role.  At some point in late 2017, my family physician offered to put me off work if I needed it.  I told him no.  I’m too stubborn to take a step back and figured that I could handle this myself.  I’m a Reiki Master for crying out loud!  I can do this on my own!  I’m strong enough to do this without taking a break.

Of course, that’s the kind of mental self-talk that most people will throw up when they have something going on.  In reality, however, nothing can be further from the truth.  If you think you don’t need help, you likely need much help.

Over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot of self-help reading.  I’ve recently finished a book recommended to me by my wife.  It’s by Karine Drouin and is called “Un burnout en cadeau!”  (For the non-francophones, that translates to The Gift of a Burnout.)  It’s a workbook with 21 strategies to survive, or prevent, a burnout.  It’s helped me realize where I am currently.  If I don’t take care of myself I will be heading down a dark and dangerous path.

This book gave me lots of tools to help me through my challenges

By working through this book, I was presented with a number of tips and strategies to help put me on the right track.  Not all 21 of the tips will be applicable to all situations, but there is more than enough variety to allow you to find something that will be beneficial to you.  Provided you are willing to put in the time and concerted effort to do the exercises.  Most people will read a book like this and tell themselves “I know that.  I’m good; no need to do the work.”  I call bullshit.

Despite having read this book, and having been working on myself for some time now, I am still in recovery.  These are not things that are quickly remedied.  It takes time, patience and, most importantly, self-love.  You need to be patient with yourself and not get frustrated if you have a setback or a bad day.  Not every day will be sunshine and rainbows, no matter what other people’s Instagram feeds tell you.

It takes a lot of courage to ask for help.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed, feeling like you’re reaching the end of your rope, showing signs of depression, anxiety, disengagement… speak up!  Go talk to your family doctor.  Seek out a mental health professional.  Call someone!  You may think you’re strong, but you’ll be even stronger if you look for, and accept, help.

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