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Ep #82: Handling Burnout | Becoming You Again Podcast

Burnout is when you feel a combination of emotional exhaustion, you stop caring about those around you because you have nothing left inside to give and you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. Every woman going through a divorce has felt one, if not all of these things leading to huge amounts of stress that piles up and eventually creates burnout.

Listen in to this episode where I’ll teach you effective strategies to deal with your stress when it presents itself so you can avoid burnout altogether. This episode is based around topics talked about in the amazing book, “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski.

Things you’ll learn in this episode:

1. What is burnout.

2. How stress leads to burnout.

3. The difference between the stress cycle and stressors.

4. Concrete ways to complete the stress cycle. To join the free monthly group coaching and support call click here. To schedule your complimentary consult with Karin click here. The Becoming You Again Program for divorced women is coming! If you want to be the first to know when it's available then you need to join the waitlist by clicking here. Make sure to follow and rate the podcast on your favorite podcasting app.

List to the full episode:

Do you find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day, but it's from something more than just living your life. You try to sleep and toss and turn your mind spinning from the anxiety and worry of what the future will hold. The next day is more of the same and you're constantly seeing your life as one crappy turn after another that feels heavy, hard and too much to deal with? You're stuck in a stress cycle and no one taught you how to complete it to feel safe in your body. I can help you and teach you how. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.

Featured on this episode:

  1. Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.

  2. Are you lost and confused about who you are after divorce? Don't worry. I've got 51 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Again. Click here to download.

  3. Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to apply to work 1:1 with Karin as your coach.

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Full Episode Transcript:

I’m Karin Nelson and you’re listening to Becoming You Again episode number 82.

Welcome to becoming You Again. The podcast to help you with your mental and emotional wellbeing during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the trauma of your divorce by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so your life will be even better than when you were married. I’m your host Karin Nelson.

Hi. Welcome back to the podcast. I am excited for this week’s episode because I have been reading an incredible book called Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle and I am learning so many amazing things from this book. It is written by twin sisters, Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I hope I am saying that right. I am probably not but it is okay. Emily is a health educator and Amelia is a choral conductor. And they came together and wrote this book specifically for women or anyone who identifies as a woman in today’s world because they wanted to help with the burnout that women go through so prevalently in today’s society. And so I wanted to use some of the things I am learning from this book as a guide to teach you some tips around handling your stress and burnout in today’s episode.

So burnout is a term that was presented in 1975. Nobody had ever really heard that word before then, by Herbert Freudenberger and technically it consists of three components: Emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a decreased sense of accomplishment. So to break each of those down with definitions so you kind of really understand what that means. Emotional exhaustion is when you are tired from caring too much about everyone else for too long. Uh, does anyone recognize this as basically your entire life? Anyone, anyone? I know I definitely can relate to that one, the emotional exhaustion right. And then there is depersonalization which is when you lack feeling empathy or even really caring about others, even those close to you because you have been doing it for so long and you just feel done. And then a decreased sense of accomplishment means that you feel like nothing you do makes any difference or will ever be enough.

After defining those three traits to burnout and if I was in a room of 100 women and asked anyone who had ever felt any kind of burnout using those three definitions, I can say with assurity that every woman in that room would raise their hand. I have felt this way, my clients have felt this way and you listening I would almost guarantee have felt this way. So first that I want you to know that you are not alone in feeling this burnout and feeling the stress. This is a problem that women are facing for much of their lives all over the world. But it does not have to be this way. And this is literally the reason why Emily and Amelia wrote this book.

According to Amelia and Emily one of the main components that leads to burnout is stress. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. Right. Stress can help us achieve goals. We can meet challenges with stress. We take initiative. We become problem solvers. When you experience stress in that way you can even grow and evolve yourself. The problem with stress is becomes when you get struck in stress and you don’t know how to complete the stress response cycle. And this, when this happens over and over and over again, is what creates burnout.

So I had this experience the other early morning. I was in my bed asleep to be woken up from a really loud crash that I had heard downstairs. My body immediately activated into the fight mode. It was like let go. It is Christmas time. I am thinking someone has broken into our house. They are stealing our presence. They are robbing us. Something terrible is going to happen. And I ran downstairs and I find my elderly cat sitting on the floor surrounded by water. He had knocked down a water bowl that had been on the counter and it had made this loud crash sending water all over the kitchen floor. And I realized, my brain realizes rate that everything is fine. Nothing terrible is happening. It is just some spilled water. But my body at this point was on full alert. My muscles were tensed. I felt a tingling, energized feeling throughout my entire body. My heart was racing. My body temperature had risen significantly and very quickly. I was in a stress cycle.

When it comes to stress there’s a difference between what we can control which is our own stress cycle and the ability to complete it and to take care of ourselves in those moments. And then there is the things outside of our control which are the stressors. Sometimes we can control the stressors. Right. We can cut back on things. We can say no to things. Sometimes we can control those things. We can take yourself out of the situation but most of the time there are things and people who create situations where we are feeling stressed and we have no control over those things.

So in my situation the stressor was the water bowl crashing to the ground, and my stress response that kicked in was fight response. Right. We have got fight, flight and freeze. I was going full tilt. I was ready to fight whatever had made that sound in my house in the middle of the night, only to find out it was actually just some spilled water. But my body didn’t know that. My higher brain, my prefrontal cortex could totally comprehend that everything was safe and everything was fine. But my lower brain, my primitive brain was still in the stress cycle. It was still controlling my body. My body continued to be in the high alert physiologic reaction that I just described for about 30 minutes after this happened.

Here’s the key. Because I have been reading this book, I understood that instead of just telling myself it’s over. Everything is fine. Nothing is wrong. You’re safe and then I could just move on with my day I knew that was not going to help complete my stress cycle because my body and my brain need the opportunity and the space to complete the cycle – otherwise I would just carry around that stress in my body, keeping me exhausted. Compiling on more stress, feeling more out of sorts, feeling like everything is too heavy and too hard. And by the end of the day I would have been completely exhausted because of that one thing that happened in the morning and then I did not complete the stress cycle. So essentially taking me one step closer to eventual burnout.

Emily and Amelia offer several ways to complete the stress cycle which I’m going to lay out for you here for you today so that when you feel stress in your life you have a way of completing the cycle as well. And the whole reason behind completing the cycle is to connect your mind and your body by letting them know that you are safe internally. Because when our stress response kicks in and goes into either fight, flight or freeze mode, it’s because our primitive brain senses danger in some way. Right. My body was like, my brain and body were like, let’s go. There’s a lion downstairs and we have got to kill it. That primitive part of my brain just kicked in. I had no control over it. It just did what it did. So in my situation my brain and body thought there was real physical danger present, only to find out that everything was actually fine. But this happens on a daily basis in terms of emotional danger. Our brain cannot tell the difference between physical danger and emotional danger – it just perceives it all as just danger. That’s the label. And something bad is happening. So it responds with the fight, flight or freeze response all the time, even when we don’t realize this is happening. Like when your ex texts you something downright nasty and mean, and you read the words and have the temperature rise and you feel tingles and electrical sensations moving for your body because you are so angry and frustrated and just done with him and he treats you. Your body is having a stress response. Most of the time you will ignore it or send back another text that answers his nastiness or we will pretend like nothing is wrong but your job is to actually complete the cycle, that stress cycle for yourself so that the stress does not stick around and build up inside of you and eventually create burnout.

There are three ways I’ll be talking about completing the stress cycle in this episode but Emily and Amelia talk about more ways in the book. Many more than three. In fact probably a dozen at least which is nice to have options to know what works for you. You kind of become an experimenter and you experiment and figure out which one works best for you and your body. And they talk about the science behind each one so I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to go more in depth about handling burnout and stress or somebody who just wants to read a really great book in general go pick up this one. It is amazing.

The first way to complete the stress cycle is exercise. I know, this sounds very cliché and it’s something we’ve all heard before but the science is there to back it up – when you do some kind of physical activity you are speaking your body’s language. The sisters explain in this book that our body doesn’t understand what getting a mean text from your ex is or dealing with tired, hungry kids means. But it does understand what running, jumping, swimming, walking or any kind of movement means. Speak your bodies language to complete the cycle. As they say in the book, “Physical activity is what tells your brain you have successfully survived the threat and now your body is a safe place to live.” So get moving in some way as often as you can for 20 to 60 minutes a day. Do what feels good to you.

Now of course getting physical exercise is the most effective way to complete the cycle and tell your body that it’s safe, but there are other ways to complete the cycle. So for anyone who has chronic pain, or a disability of some kind that keeps you from being able to move your body physically or maybe you just really, really, really don’t like to give physical or exercise in some kind of way here are some things that you can do to help complete the stress response cycle. And I am going to talk about a few of those as well.

Breathe. Breathe deep, long and slow. There’s a great book that talks about the science behind breath work and the importance of paying attention to our breathing and of course it is aptly called Breath and its by James Nestor. So if you want to know more about the science behind breathing and why it is so important to help us understand and complete our stress response cycles you could read that book. But the idea is to help re-regulate your body simply paying attention to your breathing for a minute here and there throughout your day. An effective breathing strategy is to breathe in over a count of five, hold that breath for a count of five, let the breath out really slow until you reach the very tail end of the breath over a count of ten and then hold for a count of five before taking in another breath. And you do that a few times over a minute and see how you feel.

Another way to complete the stress response cycle is to laugh. Now I’m not just polite social laughter or when you think you’re laughing and say out loud, “Oh that’s funny” but no laughter actually comes out of your mouth. Right. I do that a lot. But deep, whole body, your eyes close, your breath becomes wheezy and eventually you can’t even breathe in because there’s so much sound and joy and elation coming out of you. That is the kind of laughter that I am talking about. This is one of my favorite ways of completing the cycle because I love laughter. I love to laugh. I love to smile and you can’t laugh without smiling. My boyfriend and I laugh a lot together. Like this kind of laughter together. He is very funny and when we are together we laughed so hard and it is so much fun and I love laughing with our kids. It is the best part of my day is when we are able to do this, when we are able to create this in our lives. We like to play Jackbox games and if you’ve never played those together as a family it is so much fun but we like to do it is a family and when we do that there is so much of this kind of laughter going on in our house that it is guaranteed that every person in the room is not only having so much fun but we’re all actually completing the stress cycle individually as an added benefit. And all five of them, besides myself, have no idea that it is even happening which is even more fun that they are doing it unknowingly and creating a safer place inside their bodies. It is such a great thing.

And the last way I want to talk about completing the stress response cycle to help with your burnout and your stress is to find some kind of creative outlet or expression. Paint, sculp, play a sport, write songs, join a theater group, learn or play an instrument, write a book, or a blog, come up with funny ways of telling short stories on Tik Tok or anything else literally anything else that gets your create juices flowing. Even if you tell me I am just not creative. I know that is not true because I have thought that about myself and I promise you I have found ways to be creative. I have this podcast. I have a Facebook group. I create things on Canva every single day. So I even, who don’t find myself artistic. I don’t play an instrument. I don’t sing other than what I sing along to songs which is not great. I don’t do… I don’t play sports. I don’t do any of those things. I don’t think of myself as creative in the more general sense but I have found ways to create in my daily life and you can do the same thing.

Expressing yourself creatively helps to connect your body to the big emotions that we tend to hold inside and we resist being a part of us. This expression allows those emotions to be expressed and processed, and that again is allowing your body to recognize that it’s a safe place to be. When I was going through my divorce there were two things that I did regularly that helped me to complete the stress cycle – although at the time I didn’t know anything about this so I didn’t realize that that is what I was doing at the time – I now can look back and see how healing this was for me. I went on a walk or a run six days (sometimes seven) but mostly six days a week. This was my time to process and allow those big emotions to be present inside my body. Sometimes I would cry while on my walks or runs. Sometimes I would listen to music that made me feel alive and powerful and sometimes I would just be with nature and brief. And the second thing I would do that goes right along with this third way of completing the stress response cycle was I started a YouTube channel. This was my way of creatively expressing myself. I made videos about things that I liked and that I wanted to talk about or see or do. It wasn’t for anyone else. It was for me. It was a create way for me to heal through so much of the stress that I was going through with my divorce that I was holding inside of me.

So my suggestion to all of you is to pick one or two or all of these ways and help you complete the stress response cycle and do them as often as you can. We are all feeling stress every day so be gentle and be loving to yourself and your body and speak it’s language by reminding it that you are a safe place to be.

That is what I have for you today. Thanks for listening. I will be back next time.

If you like what you’re learning on the podcast and you’re ready to create lasting change and results in your life then you need to be working 1:1 with Karin as your divorce coach. This is where we take everything you’re learning in the podcast and 10x it with implementation and weekly coaching where you start to see change in yourself and your life immediately. To find out more about how work exclusively with Karin go to . That’s www dot Karin nelson coaching dot com.

Thanks for listening. If this podcast episode agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give it a rating wherever you listen to podcasts. And for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married, make sure to check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.



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