Is getting sick the only way you rest?
This Is an Invitation to Take Your Power Back. What happened to the spark you had as a child that powered curiosity, engagement with life, and creativity? Has it burned out? Are you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted and cynical, wondering if you've got what it takes to make it in this rapidly changing world? Burnout looks a lot like depression, but it's not a biological bogeyman that medication or simple stress management can cure. It's a disorder of hope and will that sucks the life out of competent, idealistic, hardworking people like you; and it will be an ongoing challenge for you to take your power back.
In this breakthrough work, Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. a Harvard-trained medical scientist, psychologist, and renowned pioneer in stress and health, straddles psychology, biology, and soul in a completely fresh approach to burnout. Joan's deeply human (and often amusing) personal accounts of burnout and recovery; the science of helplessness, hopelessness, and empowerment; and the rich wisdom of people who have gone from "fried" to "revived", including many of Joan's vibrant community of 5,000 Facebook Friends?make this powerful and practical book a must-read for our times.
My friend Tom Zender is a minister, author, and business consultant with very strong values. One reason why he doesn't burn out is reflected in a comment he made on my Facebook page. It was in response to a discussion on how getting sick is often the only way in which busy people can get a rest. Tom wrote: "We've got to block out at least an hour per day for meditation, silence, prayer, reading, journaling, exercise, communication with family and friends?er, make that two hours, Joan!"
Well, I know that all of those things are important, and I not only subscribe to them, I teach them. But when burnout takes over, values get shoved aside so that you can spend every minute working. Priorities shift from living a balanced life to chasing an unobtainable moving target. A good example of this is in the movie Avatar, where a degenerate culture (which was modeled on our own) was willing to destroy a peaceful planet (which was in tune with the natural world) in order to excavate a mineral aptly named unobtanium. The metaphor wasn't lost on me, nor was it on the millions of others inspired by this mythical film.
When you re single-mindedly chasing after your own unobtanium, you eventually flatline, effectively becoming deadened to the richness of life unfolding all around and within you. The little blips of joy, relaxation, fun, and spiritual refreshment that give meaning and texture to life disappear. When I've been in this state, nothing seems to matter anymore. I don't care about going to the movies, seeing family and friends, exercising, getting a massage, or gardening. It s as if all of my interests and pleasure receptors have dried up and fallen off.
I know I'm flatlining when the holidays are coming up and instead of making plans to travel and see the kids, I decide to work. I know I'm flatlining when I stop wanting to take care of the plants and delegate the job to my husband. I know I'm flatlining when the sight of skis in the closet awakens zero interest in going out on the slopes. I know I'm flatlining when meditation, exercise, being in the kitchen, and going shopping for anything, from food to clothing to gifts, feels boring.
How do you recognize when you're flatlining?
Self-Reflection Exercise: What Did You Once Enjoy Doing? When I was a kid, we lived about three blocks from a bowling alley. I?d been initiated into the joys of duckpin bowling by my older brother, Alan (duckpins are the smaller pins found mostly at bowling alleys on the East Coast). I lived to bowl, which is where most of my allowance went.
As I grew older, bowling became less important, but unbeknown to me, those narrow lanes had left corresponding grooves in my neural circuitry. Several years later, when I'd flatlined once again, Gordie and I happened to drive past a bowling alley. He turned the car around and pulled into the parking lot despite my protestations that I had too much to do and didn't like bowling anyway. However, the simple act of picking up a ball and rolling it down the alley reawakened youthful neural networks primed by possibility, and soon I was laughing and having the time of my life.
You may not remember the joy you once felt in a hobby or activity that has fallen off your radar, so you may need to enlist a friend or loved one in helping you remember.
Think back to a time before you were burned out when you were at your prime and filled with enthusiasm for life's possibilities. What did you enjoy doing? Choose one activity (like bowling, for example), and put it on your calendar. This is an experiment. If it rejuvenates you, add it to your regular schedule. If it doesn't, choose another activity from an earlier time in your life. Make sure to get out your calendar and actually add this to your schedule.
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