August 25, 2022

When we’re on the Edge of Burnout, there’s only One Thing we Need. (Plus other Tools that Help.)

I found myself standing on the edge of burnout—so close to the flames, I could feel the heat.

The heat began at the soles of my feet, spiraling its way to my head, torching my insides, and drying my throat.

No wonder they call it burnout.

The smoke from the burn formed a cloud above my head, eating the air around me.

Clouded, sick, and vulnerable, I was ready to burn, fully…

until I drank in the only pocket of air not encompassed by smoke.

With each breath I sipped, I backed away from the edge and returned to a place of clarity. In the clearness, I could see what I needed. But first, I needed to breathe.

When we get so caught up in our nonstop, go-go-go, busy AF lives, how will we ever truly know if we’re breathing if we’re not stopping to listen? How will we ever live from a place of gratitude if we’re not aware of why we’re living?

We are here because of this breath.

Our breath will always bring us home.

Our breath will always bring us here. Now.

When I lose awareness of my breath, my life leaves me. Have you ever noticed how time slows when we stop to listen? When we slow down, breathe, and listen, we arrive at the present moment. And in the present moment, life becomes longer, fuller, brilliant.

In the face of burnout, breathe. Don’t let the smoke suffocate you. Step back, breathe, then ask yourself, what else do I need?

Turn off your phone and look up at what’s around you.

Leave your phone at home and go for a walk—anywhere. Don’t wear your shoes, if you can. Make eye contact with the people who pass you. Smile at them. Say hello if you’re feeling feisty.

Notice the trees around you. The flowers. The plants. The critters. Just notice.

Find the patch of grass that’s calling your name and lie on it. Look up. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you smell? Return to your senses. Drop into your body.

Stretch, if that’s what your body is asking for. Get up and dance even (especially) if people are watching. Life is short. F*ck it.

Or, be still.

Sit in your emotions. What comes up? Let it out. Cry. Cry the ugliest cry you’ve ever cried, then see how you feel afterward. It’s okay if you still feel like sh*t.

Go make a cup of tea. And taste it. Really taste it.

Eat some damn chocolate and eat it like you’ve never eaten it before—even if you eat it every day (like me).

Talk to someone. Tell them how you feel. Or don’t. Do you.

Hug your lover, a friend, a pet, a tree. Hug yourself.

Take a day off work. Take two days off work. Heck, take a week. Remember: your mental health deserves as much love and care as your physical health.

If you have to turn your phone back on, delete social media, even if just for a day. Take a break from all the stimulation.

When you’re bored, don’t fill the space right away. Sit in the boredom for a second or maybe even two.

Replace your social media scrolling with something new—go find some juggling balls and learn how to juggle (that’s what I did).

Or read or write or paint or dance or garden or eat or do nothing.

It’s brilliant to do nothing.

But, breathe. Always breathe.


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Juliana Otis  |  Contribution: 86,725

author: Juliana Otis

Image: Author's own/Colin Mills

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