When healing from burnout is on your mind and it is your goal, then nothing can stop you from getting there. In the real world, though, there are many stressors that throw obstacles on the way. How can you evade them or handle them when you have no mental strength to deal with it anymore? “Don’t push yourself” is easier said than done; sometimes so many factors seem to be pushing against us, which can be discouraging or even send you spiraling back down that path of darkness known as burnout.
Let’s talk about stressors in our private lives and work, and how we can do our best to keep them away from us.
What to Avoid
Before you think, “yeah, sure, as if I can avoid these things,” let me tell you that I know it isn’t easy, since you have no control over external circumstances and certainly not other people. I’ve been there too …
Let’s list a few first, and then we’ll see how we can deal with them.
- Angry neighbors
- (in school), students that talk back or interrupt your class
- Customers / patients yelling at you or being rude to you
- Additional work loads being dumped on you
Back away from them. Just do not get involved in them, at all. They only drag you down into a vortex that pulls you far from your healing process. If anyone is looking to argue, then I guess it will have to be: sorry but not sorry, I’m out of here.
Even under normal circumstances, why would you want to get involved in arguments? They drain you of your energy. I suppose that some can’t be avoided, especially if you have a teenager living at home 😉 but at least stay clear of the useless fights. Senseless quarrels are like vampires, sucking you dry and leaving you empty. You don’t need that.
Angry Neighbor … uh oh …
Some things just can’t be avoided. When your neighbor is standing at your gate and yelling at you like a crazed banshee, it is not always easy to stay calm. Perhaps it would be best to suggest to them to get professional help, lol, but somehow I have a feeling that would not go down so well 😉
This actually happened to me when I went through burnout, and it is needless to say that the experience was extremely unpleasant. When you suffer from burnout, you do not have the capacity to deal with and digest such verbal aggression. The man left me shaking, and I did my best to calm down and breathe.
And that’s all you can do, breathe, take deep breaths, in and out, in and out. Remember the five-breaths technique I recommended in How to Heal From Burnout? That was what I did.
The point is, though, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, go for a walk, and most of all, do not engage in an argument with someone who approaches you with extreme verbal aggression. Nothing will be solved, it only makes things worse, and you will get thrown back to square 1, having to work on healing again.
Avoid such stressors, let angry people fix their own issues, and focus on yourself. That’s really all you can do.
If a teacher has burnout and is still working, he or she continues dealing with the factors – or part of them – that have led to his/her burnout. Those stressors are in many cases unavoidable.
As much as I love teaching and my students, it is a fact that students will always notice when their teacher is not feeling at his/her strongest and they will take advantage of it, trying to push you to your limits. Not all of them do that, but there are plenty who will jump at the chance of pushing the boundaries.
When a student talks back, do not engage in it. Do not take the bait. Take a deep breath – or include the five-breaths technique – and continue your class. If the situation gets out of hand, let the school principal or whoever is the disciplinarian deal with it, but do not get pulled into it.
Make sure that your bosses know what you’re going through, so that they understand why you are involving them and they have your back.
Yelling – is the Customer Right?
We have all heard it before. The customer is always right. Attached to that saying should come, as long as he behaves with dignity and respect. I have witnessed some appalling behavior where the customer was definitely not right.
Many years ago I saw a tourist get mad at a cashier in a café in Barcelona, because he did not speak his language. Well, we were in Spain, and last time I checked, the language there was Spanish … Fortunately, the man did not get much support from other tourists.
Many issues are not always communicated with tact. Voices are raised, fingers pointed, and before we know it, someone gets hurt or insulted.
When conflicts happen, it may be hard to escape from them. If you can get someone else to handle the situation, that would be ideal. However, if that is not possible, just remember to breathe and not get pulled into arguing. During burnout, you don’t always have your emotions under control.
Even more so, be the “rude guy/gal” and walk away. Let someone else pitch in. It’s better to be considered rude than to be picking up the pieces of your shattered psyche. If you have never had burnout, this may be hard to understand, but arguments or any other type of aggressive confrontations are extremely hard to deal with when you have burnout. That is why I insist that you should run from them.
The best solution would be, of course, not to work and to take a very long break from all that, but that is not always possible. It would be fantastic, however, if you could get permission to have leave of absence.
I am going to make this short. Just, no.
If someone, your boss or a colleague, dumps extra work on you, knowing very well what you’re going through, the answer is a straight and clear No! Let someone else do it, seriously. You have to focus on getting better, not on getting worse. So, one more time, just say no.
The workplace often seems to be the place where we have to constantly please others. It’s okay, though, to think of your own well-being. You cannot perform when you are not doing so great.
If you have to continue working during burnout, then the best thing to do is to inform your boss what is going on with you, so that he/she knows not to give you overtime or too much work and to have your back when it is needed.
Although many stressors simply cannot be avoided and seem to head towards us into a collision course, there are ways to handle such pressure while not allowing it to interfere too much with your healing process.
Some things can’t be solved, some people may remain angry, but you must focus on yourself and on getting better. Many situations are not ideal, but you can never forget that you can’t allow others to interfere or even damage your healing process. Sometimes, if there is no other solution, walking away from a conflict may be the most peaceful thing to do for yourself.
During burnout, you must avoid all kinds of aggression and quarrels; and you must stay in or create a calm environment. Even if it is not easy, as long as you always have this on your mind, then you will always take steps to achieve that. And every step in the right direction is a step towards the end of the dark tunnel and back into the light.