Raking it in without
breaking your soul

Signs of Burnout

The surest sign of burnout is when your emotional reactions are disproportionate to the event itself.

The real work is in understanding how that disproportionate reaction manifests for you, so I’m gonna lay out some examples from my life in hopes that you can recognize yourself somewhere in here too.

Personally, when I’m burned out, my emotions become so fried and fragile that I cry at just about anything.

Another email from someone interested in booking a workshop with me? 😭 because I just can’t handle one more thing. When an appropriate, proportionate reaction would be to hit reply and politely decline.

I’ve also overate or overdrank. One glass of champagne to celebrate the launch of a new product makes sense. Three glasses is an attempt to drown your stress.

In 2020, I quit sleeping well. Getting 4 hours, max. Usually woken up by a pounding chest and drenched in sweat. I thought it was very early menopause. Or possibly a heart murmur. Turns out it was just stress. Your body disproportionately reacts on your behalf. (Other body clues: You get sick.)

Friends of mine have gone blank. They’re so overextended and exhausted that nothing really registers anymore. I get texts like “I don’t even remember the last three hours of my life.”

Like, the kids said they were hungry and you went through the motions of throwing together some mac and cheese while answering work emails while the preteen prattles on about what happened in Mythic Quest while….

A normal reaction would be overwhelm. You’d close your laptop. You’d focus your preteen on dumping the powdered cheese food product onto the noodles. A disproportionate reaction would be to fracture yourself into so many parts that you aren’t you anymore and therefore your brain doesn’t function.

Other forms of going blank: mindlessly binging TV or social media (this includes YouTube), playing solitaire on your phone for hours, not wanting to get out of bed.

Readers show me they’re burned out when they reply to my newsletter with an angry five-part essay about how wrong I am.

Hear me out – I’m definitely not always right.

But a point-by-point fiery dissertation? When someone starts multiple sentences with “In fact,” inside the same paragraph? Honey, you sound like you need a hug, a nap, and…

The only solution to burnout is to *permanently* cut back your responsibilities.

Some ideas:

Shrink your team.

Institute a 4 day work week.

Raise your rates and take fewer projects.

Drastically shift the distribution of household labor.

Pick a date that will be your final day at your salaried job.

For sure:

Burnout can’t be solved by sending the kids to the grandparents for the weekend.

A vacation in the Caribbean sun will be nice but it isn’t a cure because as soon as you get back on Monday you’ll be stepping directly into all the burnout-inducing chaos once again.

Tools to regulate your nervous system, like yoga and meditation, can help you bear the current stack of (too many) responsibilities but they don’t fundamentally change your circumstances.

Do you see yourself in here anywhere? What are your burnout signs? How long have you been experiencing them? What permanent changes are in store? Tell me.

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