Yesterday was tough.
My husband found my nursing bra in one of my newborn son’s drawers. When he asked me why it was there, I couldn’t even recall how it happened. He told me I must have been tired, and to say that he was right is an understatement.
No, I’m not tired; I’m f*cking exhausted.
My sweatshirts smell like sweet milk and my hair is tied up in a loose bun since, well, I don’t know when. If it weren’t for my husband, I would skip breakfast altogether and maybe never refill my bottle of water.
I look at my husband and wonder if I have hugged him today. I look around and glimpse at my German Shepherd who has a frown on his face and is waiting for me to play with him because he refuses to play with anyone else.
Why did I put my nursing bra in my son’s drawer? I don’t know. It must be for the same reason why I kept looking for my iPhone last week when it was right in my hand. Oh, wait, there’s a name for that confusion I’ve been feeling. It’s called burnout.
I’m slowly learning how to cope with this new phase of life. Although I’m on cloud nine, I admit that, at the end of the day, I still find myself out of whack.
Burnout is ugly.
It makes us feel “less than” and keeps us stuck in a loop that we think we might never escape.
I might be tired for awhile now, but yesterday I said something that might forever change how I feel about burnout. I said:
I only need five minutes to recharge.
I stopped everything I was doing and breathed. I kept breathing as I imagined nothingness in my mind. There was no work at that moment, no baby, no dogs, no meals that needed to be prepped, no deadlines, no worries…there was nothing.
I held onto that empty place in my mind and stayed in it for five minutes. I kept breathing, I may have cried a little (which is okay), and delved deeper into nothingness.
When I opened my eyes, I could feel that my mind was calmer. And so I repeated this a few times whenever I needed to rest. And that was when I realized that my burnout was due to a lack of breaks.
How often do you give yourself a break when you feel overwhelmed? Really. I don’t think we give ourselves the “pause” we need when we’re on the brink of falling apart. In fact, we keep pushing and pushing and pushing until we break.
But it’s simpler than we think. I believe that burnout happens when we get too involved in what’s around us and forget about our inner space. That space needs frequent breaks. It needs care, love, and attention. It needs to be seen.
Believe it or not, all it takes is five goddamn minutes. You don’t even have to go somewhere special. Wherever you are right now, close your eyes, breathe, drop everything, and let the earth stop spinning for a few minutes. It’s your five minutes. It’s your break.
Pausing for a few minutes might not instantly alleviate your burnout or make it disappear, but it will surely help you to replenish your empty supply. One small break can make you feel so much better. Imagine what five or six could do.