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May 21, 2008

Burn Out

A colleague and long-term friend of mine sought my help recently when we met. “I’m burning out,” she told me. She loves what she’s doing, does it magnificently and doesn’t want to stop, but is running on empty. I asked how her self-care was–how much time she was taking just for her. She looked at me quizzically.

“Do you meditate? Do you have quiet time? Is there any time when you’re not serving others?” I know she’s got a more than full-time position, an active family life and a happy marriage. These ALL take time and energy. Again, a blank stare.

I told her I had an assignment for her. “For one hour this weekend, I want you to simply BE. Sit somewhere quiet and relaxing (the beach, the reading room at the library or her favorite rocking chair) and do nothing.”

“You mean, like, just watch tv?”

“No. Do nothing.”

“Like read a book?”

“No. I really mean NOTHING.”

It occurred to me that she, along with many others out there, never stop DOING. You must! Our bodies need time to integrate, to assimilate, to process what’s happening in our lives. Burnout is a sure sign that you’re not giving yourself the time to do that.

An additional tip: if you do your nothing assignment in nature, you’ll double its effectiveness.

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