I’ve been struggling with burnout lately.
I think many of us have.
Whether with work, exercise, having no desire to cook yet another dinner… or just a lack of enthusiasm about life in general, the feeling of monotony and exhaustion has been overwhelming for many of us.
And like most of us, my immediate response to these feelings has been to TRY harder - DO more - PUSH THROUGH.
But this only deepened my feelings of burnout.
As I became more and more frustrated with my own lack of motivation, I started to think about why this could possibly be happening-
Why every year around mid-September, the exhaustion would creep in, and by winter, my motivation would evaporate, leaving me feeling like I was trying to FORCE everything – my goals, my workouts, myself.
Everything felt like a chore by winter. Every single year.
I could see the pattern, but I couldn’t figure out why it was happening.
And then the answer came in a perfectly timed email from Daily OM that said this:
“In fall, the earth begins the process of releasing all the things she has been holding onto throughout spring and summer, and by midwinter she has let everything go. She sits clean and undecorated in her simplicity, free of the frenzy of life that defines her in the warmer seasons. There is a quiet humility about the earth in the winter months, as animals and people retreat inside to escape the wet and sometimes freezing cold that takes hold… We may find ourselves sleeping longer hours and yearning for downtime, just like the animals deep inside their caves and warrens taking a winter-long nap. Even if we live in a warmer climate, the longer nights and shorter days have the same effect on our cycles.
If we surrender to this time as nature intended, we allow ourselves to slow down, sleep more, and lower the volumes on our busy minds. At the same time, we crave company in our dwellings, and the insulated warmth of the hearth tends to bring people together, creating more warmth and fostering connections that last through the coming year. We laugh, eat, and talk, sleep, or catch up on reading, while outside our windows the earth grows dark earlier and stays cold longer, accepting as always of the process of change and her place within it.
We might remember to learn from her as she so gracefully surrenders to the emptiness that precedes all form, the peace that precedes activity, the darkness that precedes the light…”
Reading this, it became clear to me that I hadn't been honoring my own “yearning for downtime.” I was trying to FORCE myself back into spring and summer- to go go go!
To STRIVE and achieve.
Instead of honoring the emptiness, darkness, and peace as part of the natural rhythm of life, I was trying to FORCE them away with more activity... which only deepened the burnout.
But in reading that beautiful email, I realized that the burnout wasn’t the problem-
The burnout was my body, heart and mind SCREAMING for me to do the exact opposite of what I had been doing.
To SLOW down. To look around. To embrace what IS, right here. Right now. To care for myself. To let go.
If you’ve been struggling with burnout, I hope this resonates with you.
Allowing ourselves to slow down feels so foreign to most of us.
But our bodies, minds and souls know what they need, and they WILL speak up if we ignore them long enough.
Maybe we all need our own personal winter- a time to “lower the volume on our busy minds,” and free ourselves of the “frenzy of life that defines us in the warmer seasons.” To “surrender to this time as nature intended” (instead of fighting it), so that when spring rolls around again, we’ll be ready to bloom back to activity, refueled and full of LIFE.
Sending you a warm hug and a steaming mug of hot coco on this chilly winter day.