In the process of piecing life together after burnout, healing has to come first. Any attempt to rush back into ‘normalcy’ will set you back further and potentially cause you to sink deeper into burnout.
I speak from the lived experience, 12 years ago, of being a highly impatient and deeply burnt out person.
At the lowest point of burnout, my Spark was totally extinguished. I felt disconnected from life as if I was just going through the motions.
In my book, I outline the four first steps to healing after burnout: Breathe, Restore, Nourish and Talk. By taking these steps, deliberately and with patience, you create space for your body, mind and soul to heal. Your physiological systems replenish. Your nervous system finds equilibrium after prolonged exposure to chronic stress.
This. Takes. Time.
Then, something almost imperceptibly shifts.
One day, eventually, you notice you have a little energy. Your Spark is starting to relight. Your curiosity stirs. Perhaps you even feel tentatively excited about what lies ahead.
When you’ve done the hard work of healing, you come to a point where your sights are no longer on the floor. Your gaze lifts.
You pose questions you had long avoided.
You know the kind.
What makes me happy?
What are the things that make me feel alive and in flow?
What are my values?
Which things would my older and wiser ‘future self’ advise me to do, right now?
How do I want my day-to-day life to look?
This process of inquiry is not always easy. For me, letting go of the prestige of saying I was a finance lawyer at a top firm impacted my ego. The yoga teacher training used up a chunk of my savings and I worked a minimum wage job so as not to plunder the rest. I felt compelled to reevaluate friendships: A few strengthened, several faded. My relationship with my partner, which had been damaged by my burnout, did not survive.