We talk about preventing burnout, but what happens if we're already there? — R Voice

We talk about preventing burnout, but what happens if we're already there?

Shruti Turner
Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited March 10 in Self-care & Wellbeing

There are often conversations about how we should prevent burnout, recognise we're heading in that direction and self-care..but what happens if we're already burnt out and we don't know what to do now? I don't think I've ever seen a conversation about that..

I'll be totally honest with you, for all my talk about self-care and looking after ourselves, I'm terrible at it at times. I think I've reached burnout. I'm tired, I have so much on my list, I know what I need to do, I know how to do it, but the prospect of facing my unfinished list is making me stressed. I just want to sit under a fluffy blanket with my giant puppy and watch films.

I have no leave left, I have 2.5 weeks left of my contract and 3 unfinished papers all open and being ignored. So what's the deal now? What do you do to pull yourself out of a "rut" like this? Welcoming all suggestions and pet pictures! :)

Thank you, R Voice family! I know you won't disappoint.

Comments

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Step 1: I'm going to try closing 2 of the unfinished papers and just focus on one at a time. Will let you know how that goes!

  • Karen Hall
    Karen Hall Member Posts: 14 ✭✭
    edited March 16

    I am there too in a rut. I am writing a mini book and seem to have lost all the information in my head. So I am recording a rant on my frustration and I put the timer on for a five mins rant. After that I will edit the paper hoping the thoughts will return afterwards..

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    Hi @Shruti Turner . This is very very relatable. I specifically aim to plan small resting moments into my days. My therapist has told me to just release air while blowing raspberries regularly throughout the day. She told me that my issue is that I think that If I relax, I will not be able to make it back into the work flow. That's why she told me to take these small moments off that then aid me to actually continue and do not hinder me from it.

    I really try to plan rest into my days, in terms of different time spans, be it 5 minutes, 30 minutes or an entire evening. I also plan different restful activities, some of them being watching the movies I am asked to watch for university. It is definitely difficult but planning it surely helps.

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 881 admin
    edited March 11

    @Shruti Turner I'm so sorry to hear that you've reached this point. No one should have to cross that threshold of exhaustion and inch towards burnout 😔 Please don't give yourself a hard time about not getting self-care right. I just wrote on another thread that I don't get it right on most days. Most of us don't and all we can do is keep trying. I wish I could tell you to do just what you've said - sit under a fluffy blanket with my giant puppy and watch films - but I also understand that not trying to get through that list of things to do somehow feels worse. 😖

    You're right about post-burnout conversations being relatively less common. I wish I had a simple answer for you but I don't think I dealt with my own experience of burnout well. I used to feel flat and demotivated and couldn't make sense of why I was doing what I was doing. Being productive can be so painful when you're struggling to connect with the why of what you're doing. Sorry I know that wasn't helpful advice but I hope it makes you feel like you're not alone, because you really aren't!

    Not sure how helpful this will be for you but I follow an Instagram account called doodledwellness that often talks about burnout. I found this one post that explains the 3 dimensions of burnout and what to do about it. I'm sharing a snapshot below but there's a lot more here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CXbkz-yrBqy/


  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    Isn't it so much of a coincidence @Shruti Turner that I just mentioned you in another thread feeling grateful to you for making me feel less burdened by all the to-do list that I have on my home/work checklist❤️. Hope this already IS making you feel better and that you ARE making a difference to someone out there by just sharing beautiful thoughts and photographs!

    Your burnout is exactly what I have gone through MANY a time (so many that I lost count of it), hence your distraught feeling is very very relatable. But the steps I took to overcome them are what I shall pen here, hoping they help you get mentally and physically rejuvenated 🤗

    • Let your partner or bestie be the sounding board to vent all your frustration and cry your heart out (you feel 50% less burdened already). If both of them are unavailable for any reason, turning to your favourite God to just recount everything that is troubling you (He is one person to whom you can speak your heart out with no inhibitions since he resides inside you and knows you BEST) and find solace in meditating on him/her.
    • Try your best to stick to what @Andrea Hayward has posted from Insta above. They are truly golden words that when translated into action gives you a LOT of time for self-care and tons of mental peace as well. I have done exactly the same, and the benefits are so much that it can become addictive and you start applying these pointers without much effort later.
    • Sometimes it is good to keep chanting to yourself that YOU ARE IMPORTANT and that everything else will find a way to sort out by themselves. The work can be completed only if we are in good shape, isn't it. I do this when I am at the brink of a breakdown. I tell myself that everything else can and will WAIT. My health issues taught me to do this, coz when I was forced to go on long leaves, I understood that those leaves help me sort and prioritise lab work efficiently and that those experiments which I thought were time bound could actually wait for my return and guess what, they worked out better than expected!💃 What I have said here is closely related to what @Vivien Kretz has mentioned - ....my issue is that I think that If I relax, I will not be able to make it back into the work flow. And, that is not at all true.

    I really really hope you get out a much brighter person (you already ARE!) after applying these techniques🤗. Or have you already done all of this and its still not worked (?!)

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    Thank you so much for these amazing tips@Gayatri Ramachandran ! I especially needed the third one: "I tell myself that everything else can and will WAIT."

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    No mention at all @Vivien Kretz. We all are doing "ouR" best. Like you mentioned today in another post, this community is all for going hand in hand to bust stress and give life while holding the shoulder and giving a big hug to those in need of it. And I super love this platform for all that!😍

  • Jayashree Rajagopalan
    Jayashree Rajagopalan Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 319 admin

    Hi @Shruti Turner ! It took me a while to be able to figure out how I could share my thoughts with you. First. I hear you and am also here for you. It must be a stressful phase and I am sorry you have so much to deal with at once. I liked your approach of getting the two papers out of the way. Burnouts are the worst. I am very much like you - I keep going even though I know I need to slow down a bit. I other words, I am not the best at the "self" in "self-care". You're right there are many conversations about preventing burnout, not so much about dealing with it. There's so much others have already shared here and going through that I realize how we've all probably faced this at some point or other. In my case, I just crash - physically, emotionally, or mentally. I then slow down - also mainly because I can't function at all. I then take up the most mundane task from my list (running routine CTRL+Fs on something I wrote, cleaning up folders, watching something I've seen a million times knowing it will make me feel better, eating salted caramel ice cream, and just taking a lot of deep breaths). Often a few hours of mundane tasks help me recenter and feel a little better - of course the feeling of exhaustion only dissipates in time and the process could be somewhat low. But for me, incorporating the mundane into my schedule every day helps me deal with my burnout. Something I've just started doing is positive self-talk and a lot of affirmations. It is very difficult at first (as I am experiencing ight now) but it does help knowing that you can be your worst critic as well as best cheerleader. Feeding the former is easy, encouraging the latter takes work. During burnouts I celebrate small victories - something like one sentence at a time, or one hour at a time - and often include at least one task that doesn't need me to think too much.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 16

    @Karen Hall @Vivien Kretz @Gayatri Ramachandran @Andrea Hayward @Jayashree Rajagopalan

    Firstly, I must apologise to you all for not replying to your kind and supportive messages on this thread I started. It was so rude of me to go AWOL after posting such a thread and eliciting responses. Please know that your words mean the world to me even though I haven't responded.

    Clearly, my coping mechanism this week was to switch off from things to focus, but I should have given some warning.

    It's been a crazy turn of events in my own head. I turned a corner on Sunday and in 1.5hours of work I achieved more than. had all week (I know I shouldn't be working on a Sunday, but sometimes a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do!) With some headspace clear I realise that perhaps (only perhaps....) I have been too harsh on myself. I have not yet come to terms with the (not so) recent diagnosis which I know rationally affects my joints but also can lead to fatigues and brain fog. I didn't realise it was happening until after it was gone. I don't like to say or think these things as I feel everyone has difficulties and experiences these times. I don't want to make excuses or make it seem like my issues are because of this. It just feels like I'm making excuses. This week has been much more productive and I feel like I am back on a bit of a track. I've accepted that I am unlikely to finish all my papers before the end of my contract but I'm making a good stab at some progress.

    For now, I will leave you all with this. I hope you can forgive my rudeness. I am now getting back to paper writing before I spend all day on R Voice with you all. I will get back to each an everyone of you personally as soon as I am able <3

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 241 ✭✭✭
    edited March 16

    @Shruti Turner please don't apologise for coming back to us earlier. If you are burnt out, there is nothing that makes more sense than spending some time offline. Please do not apologise for that.

    I feel very empathetic towards you regarding the things you are working through. You are never alone and I agree, please treat yourself less harshly. I really hope that you can take some time off to recharge and treat yourself with understanding, love and compassion in the meantime. Nothing you do needs to be perfect, in times like this, it is important to remember that the bare minimum is just enough.

    Even though we all struggle, that does not diminish your hardships. Everyone's issues are equally in how much they should be taken seriously. You are not making any excuses. You have a cause for why you are feeling this way. Please don't tell yourself these painful things for they are not only hurtful but also not true.

    Please do not feel pressured to reply to this message, you can also leave it here as it is. I just wanted to reply to your thoughts. :)

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    Something did tell me that you were taking time off to focus on priorities when I hadn't seen you up and about as always, for sometime now @Shruti Turner. And guess what, I was fervently hoping you were doing just that, coz priorities ARE priorities and prioritising something urgent doesn't make anything else less important. And, definitely there ain't no apologising needed here Shruti🤗. We understand and we ARE here to understand, support and grow.

    First of all, I am doubly glad and happy that you are already making progress!😍 Accepting the fact that the papers will move slow. That is one BIG step to reducing burnout. So keep easy at it while keeping up the tempo of applying "not burning out" techniques that you are implementing. And please don't feel bad, ever, or feel that you are making excuses when you share your health status. In fact I am immensely motivated by you if I didn't convey this to you earlier-that despite your health issues in a cold atmosphere (pun intended), your involvement in so many spheres of life is very commendable and a BIG booster for me😊.(thats an ear-ear smile-full teeth smile I call it. I love people who smile that way. It gets me attracted to them)

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 881 admin

    I echo everything @Vivien Kretz and @Gayatri Ramachandran have said in response to your comment, Shruti. Thank you both so much for being so supportive and kind 🤗❤️

    @Shruti Turner you have NOTHING to apologize for! And please don't worry, it wasn't rude at all. You're doing whatever you think is best for you right now and you don't owe anyone an explanation for that.

    I'm very sorry to hear that the joint condition has gotten worse (apologies if my understanding of it is incorrect). I just wanted to remind you that you're not making excuses at all. Both brain fog and fatigue can seriously hamper executive function. So to say that working on 3 different papers against a tight deadline while dealing with all this has been difficult, would be a serious understatement. I know it's really hard to look at it this way, especially when you're someone who is used to being productive all the time. Try thinking of this like this - if a loved one or even a colleague was going through a similar situation, what would you tell them? I know you and you'd be the first person to reassure them and not even let them use the word "excuses" once. As cliché as this might sound, try and be that friend to yourself right now 🤗

    Take care! And don't feel pressure to hurry back. We'll patiently wait and welcome you back when you're ready to come back. Sending you a big long distance hug!

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 18

    I am genuinely feeling so much love and gratitude for you all ❤️ x


    @Andrea Hayward @Gayatri Ramachandran @Vivien Kretz

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm sorry to hear that you were feeling this way too @Karen Hall. I hope you are feeling better since and you have been able to get your frustrations out of your system to get back to editing :)

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 18

    This advice is great for me too I think @Vivien Kretz ! I know that (especially when I'm not feeling motivated to work) that taking a break for too long only makes me give up on work entirely. Netflix and autoplay doesn't help.."I'll just watch one episode, oh where is the remote control..oh no, the next episode has started..." then it's I'll start after lunch, ah well I need to eat..oh it's nearly the end of the day now. Oh well. I'm so bad when I'm not feeling disciplined anyway!

    I have to say, I did try this a little this week and it felt good. I got up to make my own tea and get a biscuit which gave a 5 min break to stretch the legs and get a treat. Usually I don't bother or wait until my husband gets up and offers. Taking the step to do it myself was great to get my away from my screen. Thank you for sharing this with us :)

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Please please, don't apologise for "not having helpful advice". I hate that I was not alone in the feelings that I had, because they weren't a fun experience, but I'm so grateful for you sharing a similar time in your life. Having a conversation about things like this is how it becomes a common topic to talk about and tackle that stigma around mental health and struggling (which I know you know and appreciate too!) I hope together, as community, we will be able to find a way to make things like this easier to tackle.

    I love tips and tricks to help myself, I'm not necessarily good at following them myself but it's good to have the reminder. I feel like something will stick if I see them. Thank you for sharing the Instagram account.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Your post is like a ray of sunshine @Gayatri Ramachandran !! I feel your warmth coming through my screen. Thank you for sharing your strategy and showing so much support and understanding. I'm sorry you've had to go through the same sort of thing, as I'm sure many of us have had to!)

    I have to admit, I am not a believer in any god, and so my husband's stresses this past week and mine together have been an interesting combination. We are both thankfully feeling much better, and I have been able to emerge from the hole I was in when I posted this thread.

    I definitely tried to focus on the good parts of me, that I often forget, thankfully I have your post to remind me here but also I'm ever grateful to my husband for being my personal morale booster too!

    For me, I think turning the corner with my brain fog was a big factor in my productivity and mindset. I am still learning to adjust to the "new me". But also, lists..lots of planning and scheduling (with breaks too, thank you for the reminder @Vivien Kretz !). I find that planning things in more detail helps me when I'm struggling, because even though my list may look bigger, I get to tick more off the list. It also helps me to realise when tasks are actually too big e.g. instead of writing work on paper X results, I break it down into analysis, figures and write up. That has helped me a lot too this week.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Ahh, as always @Andrea Hayward you are a women after my own heart. This is exactly what I say to others being hard on themselves...what would you say to a friend or loved one?!It's so true, if only I could take my own advice sigh Thank you for reminding me of what I need to remember as always x

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us @Jayashree Rajagopalan - I think you're totally right..most of us have probably felt this in some way or other. Just looking around R voice I feel that too. Your tips for preventing burnout and maintaining yourself are great, definitely something I should. befactoring in. I think I don't count those mundane tasks as jobs, so then stress when they take up time - something I know I need to work on!

    I am definitely not a judge or all of us still working on the 'self" in self care - clearly I really can't be!! I think the awareness we have more progress to make and the willingness to get there are key.

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    Exactly, I have the same issue. I read this quote the other day that said "When you get home, do anything BUT sit down" and it is true. When one sits down, exhaustion often most easily hits.

    That is a great thing to do what you did with the little break! It is important to know that you are in control of your breaks, too. 😊

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 881 admin

    @Shruti Turner just read through all of your responses to our comments. How are you doing today?

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    I am relieved that you are have already charted your break-the-burnout- strategy by yourself and already feeling better🤗. And since your better half wasn't doing well too, it must have been really tough :( Now I get why the burnout felt so heavy on you. Like my husband always says, "Every single time, work and personal troubleshooting always happens together as a package, unmercifully", it can be very daunting when that happens. I'm glad you did post about it and reduced your burden. Just conveying "I am in stress" and acknowledging it to those who understand is a great way to feel lighter and help yourself - help yourself. The mind gets clearer automatically, like you mentioned about tackling your brain fog on your own, just like @Andrea Hayward suggested- Self help is THE best help!

    Breaking things into tiny bits instead of looking the big picture is what my partner keeps telling me so often when he sees me stressed. So when I saw you mention that there was BIG smile on my face; one of familiarity that doesn't breed contempt, but breeds love!😍

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    Yeah its Monday @Shruti Turner! Hopefully you had a lovely view again this morning. How has the past weekend helped you and hopefully your health is improving to uplift your motivation for this week😊

  • Gayatri Ramachandran
    Gayatri Ramachandran Member Posts: 172 ✭✭✭

    I so so vouch for that quote @Vivien Kretz. Specially being a mom, when I return, there is enough "home-work". I did sit down (thinking of self care(LOL)) once or twice for a cuppa as soon as I reached home and my! it was sooo difficult to get up and do all those chores. Which meant I regretfully ended up being an onlooker as my husband completed most of them, despite completing all his load of the home-work on those days. And that is when I decided I WONT sit down immediately after I touch base, unless I am sick. I complete some work and then relax to talk with family (with the self-satisfaction and anticipation that I'm halfway through the chores already😂)

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 241 ✭✭✭
    edited March 21

    Man @Gayatri Ramachandran , I really really feel this. It is so hard to find a balance between self-care and finishing enough chores in order to be able to get through the day. I guess that “do not sit down rule” really only counts for the most important stuff.. We really need and deserve a break but sometimes it’s just about the moment to figure out when to take it in order to not block ourselves.

  • Shruti Turner
    Shruti Turner Member Posts: 465 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Andrea Hayward @Gayatri Ramachandran @Vivien Kretz I feel so blessed to have you here on this community supporting me <3 My break from pretty much everything other than what I had to do for work has been very beneficial. I have pushed myself to be productive and even done things *just for me*. I don't really remember the last time that happened. I think mixed with some good weather and time, I have been feeling much better in myself. I can not thank any of you enough for the support you have shown me <3

  • Andrea Hayward
    Andrea Hayward Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 881 admin

    @Shruti Turner This is the best news ever! You've been on my mind this week but I didn't want to spam you with messages and make you feel like you had to respond. So I decided to wait. So glad to hear that you're feeling much better and even got to have some "me time". Hope things continue to move forward this way 🤗

  • Vivien Kretz
    Vivien Kretz Member Posts: 241 ✭✭✭

    Wow I am so happy to read that @Shruti Turner ! I am so happy you got to rejuvenate a bit!

  • Kakoli Majumder
    Kakoli Majumder Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 296 admin

    Just back from a really long holiday and reading all of this - sorry @Shruti Turner I couldn't respond earlier, but I'm really sorry to know that you were actually going through a burnout. It must've taken a toll on you - but I'm glad you recognized it and decided to talk about it. I'm really happy that things are under control now and you're feeling more like your usual self again. Huggggs! And I hope you can take some time off soon and snuggle into that fluffy blanket with your doggo. 🧡