Getting Brutally Honest About Burnout

getting brutally honest about burnout- Jessica Lawlor

A few weeks ago I sent an email to the Get Gutsy newsletter community with the subject line “I’ve reached the point of burnout.” In the email I wrote:

I have to be honest with you today.

I haven’t been feeling like my normal, chipper, go-getter self lately.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve reached a point of burnout.

I went on to explain:

As I was preparing an upcoming lesson for the 30 Days of Gutsy course titled, “Be Kind To Yourself”, I had to laugh a little because I realized I’m doing the exact opposite of my own advice.

In the lesson, I write:

“Remember: you can only be your best self and accomplish your goals when you take care of yourself first.”

Reading those words…words that I wrote only a couple of months ago, reminded me of how important it truly is to take care of yourself.

I was able to pinpoint a couple of reasons for my recent burnout/funk:

1. It had A LOT to do with weather and time of year. I looked back and realized I sent out a newsletter last March right around that same time all about how to deal when things aren’t okay. Winter has always been tough for me- I am NOT a cold weather girl and I seriously miss the sun during these murky, grey months. A few weeks ago in yoga, one of my amazing teachers, Cicelee, talked all about the coming of spring (it’s FINALLY HERE! Yay!) and how no matter what kind of “personal winter” we’ve endured, our moment in the sun is coming. I love this metaphor, both literally for the idea of standing in the warmth of the sun, but also the idea of emerging from a dark mental/emotional place for a lighter, happier one.

2. I’ve been in go-go-go mode since October. The Get Gutsy ebook launched in October. I ran the beta version of the 30 Days of Gutsy course in November. The Get Gutsy Essay Contest launched in December. We celebrated Get Gutsy Week in January. I promoted and sold the 30 Days of Gutsy course in February and actually ran the course in March. WHEW. I am exhausted looking at this list and thinking about how much creation and promotion I’ve crammed into almost half a year. Of course, I’m so proud and super grateful for all the amazing things that have happened with the blog/community over the past few months, but I also recognize that there is truly only so much you can do before you have to take a break. This month, it is time to rest and relax. It’s time to write and blog FOR FUN and not because I’m trying to promote something. It’s time to take a big step back to re-evaluate.

I shared these details with my newsletter community (and now you) because if you’re feeling the same way, I want you to know you’re not alone.

Guess what I realized in sending that email? I’M not alone either. After sending that newsletter, email after email came rolling into my inbox with members of the community, people like you, sharing YOUR stories of burnout. So many people could relate.

One response in particular stuck out to me. The email came from a college friend. Someone I definitely look up to; someone who appears to have it all together. She wrote:

“I don’t mean for this to come across the wrong way, but I’m glad that you are burnt out. And admitting it. And here is why: I am so, so, so beyond burnt out right now.

I think to myself, why am I so burnt out when she seems to do 10,000x the amount that I do! And I beat myself up for getting burnt out “so easily” and tell myself that I can be doing more.

It is so, so, refreshing and healing to hear someone who is as accomplished and successful as you are admit to having these moments of burnout and exhaustion because it makes me, and the many people like me who read your blog, feel like it’s ok to be tired sometimes. And ok to be weak. And ok to accepting that you can’t do everything at all times and that sometimes you need to give yourself a moment to heal and recover.”

My friend’s email let me know that no matter what kind of front we put on for the world to see (whether we mean to put on a front or not) we’re all dealing with our own internal struggles…our own personal winters, if you will.

We ALL struggle. Every single one of us.

And it’s okay to talk about it.

Talking about it brings those worries, those fears, those anxieties to the surface. It brings them to light and helps us tackle them head-on. It makes them less scary.

So, the next time you feel that burnout coming on…open up about it. Journal your feelings. Share them with a friend. Blog about it. Do something.

Acknowledge that it’s okay to feel burnt out. And it’s okay to find your own ways to deal with it.

Here are some ways I’m dealing with my recent burnout:

  • I’m saying NO left and right to a lot of things right now. A few months back, I detailed my reverse to-do list (the things you say NO to) and I’ve really taken that to heart. Instead of simply saying no to things that don’t excite me or fill me with joy, I’m also saying no to things I *normally* would like to do, but know that I don’t have the energy or capacity to handle right now.
  • I’m talking it out. Instead of keeping the stress and these feelings bottled up inside, I’m sharing it. I’m writing about it here and sharing it with you and I’ve talked about it at length with friends.
  • I’m letting myself feel it. A lot of times, we push our feelings aside, especially if they are negative or uncomfortable. Instead of brushing myself off, I’m allowing myself to recognize this period of time as not my favorite and embracing the feelings of discomfort because I know that this will pass.

Let’s get really honest with one another! Have you ever felt burnt out? Share your stories (and how you coped!) in the comments below.

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  • Again, I really appreciated that newsletter but I’m glad you bring it up on the blog too. Although what you’re experiencing isn’t fun or ideal, it can clearly help you help others. That’s how I look at most bad situations that happen to me, that maybe God let it happen to me so I can foster to others that are having the same issues.

    I have to say I’m really burnt out with blogging in general right now too. I’m not sure why, as I’ve had the last 5 weeks off work with nothing but free time. Something about a baby coming has just totally shifted my mindset though. I thought I’d be spending these weeks preparing my blog for once baby arrives, but I haven’t want to do any such thing! I’m just taking it in stride and realizing that there are many seasons in blogging and that it will always ebb and flow.

    • Thanks Melissa!

      I totally hear you on being burnt out even though you feel like you shouldn’t be! Sometimes those are the times we most want to turn everything off. In your case, you have so much else going on that I think it’s totally fine to let blogging take a backseat while you prepare for such a massive life change.


  • Want to know the ironic twist? I really wanted to reply to that email a few weeks ago. But between the weather, burnout, and other not-great things going on in my life impacting my mood, I kept putting it (and everything else in my life) off!

    • Haha, I hear you! 🙂 No worries on not replying. I hope your spring is off to a great start! Lots of changes afoot for you.

  • <3 A topic near and dear to my heart! Hopefully this spring weather and warm, along with your renewed commitment to self-care, will help. It sounds like you have been doing SO much and giving a lot of yourself to external efforts that are meaningful, but in total, leave you with less to nourish your own spirit! I like what your yoga teacher said about going through a "personal winter" as well…one of my all-time favorite quotes is this one from Camus. Might be an inspiring one for anyone else going through burnout, too!

    “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

    And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

    • I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that quote, OMG. It’s so perfect for this situation. Thank you for sharing.

      This comment made my whole day. Thanks Alicia! <3

  • Burnout or not, you’re amazing. And you’ll keep being amazing even if, and ESPECIALLY if, you take some time out for yourself and get suuuper protective of your time and energy. Thumbs up to that. Way to be brave! Or, you know, way to Get Gutsy 😉

    • Aw, thank you <3 Love your support and appreciate it so much!

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  • Michelle

    I totally know what you are talking about with the burnout. I just threw a huge pity party on my blog and the wonderfully supportive writers at ROW80 helped pick me up and set me on another path. I am using the pomodoro technique to help me focus and avoid distractions. Good luck from a Twitter friend.

    • Hi Michelle! It’s always nice to have a great network of people to lean on for support…and sometimes a pity party is totally needed 🙂 Good luck with your burnout and productivity. We can do this 🙂 xo

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