I was pivoted out.
One year into private practice.
Six months into Pandemic.
As practiced as I am at slowing down and taking time for contemplation and renewal, I struggled: depletion of motivation, lack of time for lengthy practice, and simply too much change too fast.
Then–Ruth Bader Ginsberg and our refrigerator died within days of one another–and fridges were back-ordered for months.
I felt flooded with Rage. Despair. Hopelessness.
A young protective part of me took over knowing that numbing out had helped me in the past.
That evening I drank a bottle of red wine. Not guzzling from the bottle. But not savoring over a long evening either.
The next morning I woke up feeling physically ill and emotionally and spiritually bereft. I’m no stranger to my numbing out part–I identify with Brene Brown and have a part that specializes in “taking the edge off.” I have spent much of my adult life tending and befriending this part of myself, listening for the deeper need, and developing more loving and self-sustaining coping strategies. I woke up to the reality that I had yet again started down the descent of burnout.
How was it possible that I had yet again found myself HERE and practicing cotton candy self-care?
In our culture, self-care has become a commercial industry, and we (women) are too often the products. My Self knows this. But when my adaptive parts take the lead (under times of extreme distress or crisis), I can easily split into all-or-nothing thinking and living: Mommy wine culture. Mommy taco bout it culture on one side and Perfect Mommy wellness culture on the other. Both of these treat to emotional exhaustion with the same medicine: numbing
And numbing isn’t living. It’s surviving.
But how do you thaw without losing yourself to the maelstrom of emotions inside? Is it possible to thaw without having to devote hours a day? YES!
Although I have long known that contemplative practices like meditation and journaling as well as exercise help me feel better, what I didn’t know was what provides the benefit is completing the stress cycle so that I was no longer in a threat response. More importantly, when I read the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle I learned how to assess when I had exceeded my stress limit and needed to focus on my stress rather than the stressor. Most of all, I discovered quick and simple ways I could complete the stress cycle so I wouldn’t store up my stress until I had a long chunk of time to release it. In the last year being alcohol-free and intentionally completing my stress cycle, I discovered my inner Jedi.
Learning the unique ways your body manifests and releases stress is the beginning of learning to live differently in the midst of stress…and believe it or not, GROW MIGHTY! Or become your own Jedi.
I have found the book so transformative that I led a virtual book group this February. And the group found it so powerful, I am offering it again this fall with the help of Sarah L., one of the previous participants and an elementary school teacher. We invite you to join us for The Well’s (Virtual) Burnout Book Club. If you feel emotionally exhausted, numbed out, and alone, we know that adding something may feel like too much. But you are worth it. You too can unlock your Stress Cycle and Grow Mighty! Join us.