Please help me overcome these feelings of burnout.
November 30, 2010 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Please help me with the feelings of burnout.

I'm really feeling burned out lately and have been struggling with these feelings. Overall, life is great but I'm just struggling with feelings of never having enough time, and just never having enough time to relax...and when I do, that time feels so fleeting and wasted on doing something dumb like watching tv. Am I being a big baby about all of this? Do "normal" adults just suck it up and deal with it? Here's a rundown of my current situation:

- Ended a toxic relationship last winter
- Bought a house in the spring
- Turned 30, spent the summer as single with some very loose "dating" sprinkled in but mostly focused on the house, etc.
- Changed jobs in June (which resulted in having to buy a new car)
- Am a marathon runner; did 3 fall marathons, am now "taking it easy"
- New job has me traveling some but my workload is ridiculous. My boss understands this though and we are in the process of hiring more people for the workload.
- New relationship in past few months, things are going well, we're happy and taking things slowish.

See? Things are great and I shouldn't feel like this! I was seeing a therapist but stopped per her recommendation in June (she said that I was doing well). I would like to go back, but ideally, would like to try non-therapy first due to being pressed for time and I don't think my current health insurance would cover it. I just feel like I'm fighting mental exhaustion all at once lately and am trying to figure out a way to deal with it, or better yet, overcome it. Help? Exercise has always been a major outlet for me, but I'm also a little tired from my fall marathons. I know it's all a lot of change at once too, but I'm also used to things moving quickly. I've been trying to be easy on myself through all of this, but I feel like I'm at the point of enough being enough and something needs to be done to overcome it all and feel like a normal person.
posted by floweredfish to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I would first recommend meditation as a practice for dealing with these feelings. I always recommend the books of Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are and When Things Fall Apart especially, for those seeking relief from anxiety and stress.
posted by cross_impact at 7:22 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I recommend yoga, it might help you to enjoy slowing down.
posted by mareli at 7:44 AM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: That's actually quite a heavy list of physical and emotional stressors. Even the happy new relationship is likely to be putting you under a little bit of emotional strain.

Yet, in the face of that you're saying that you're not normal for being unable to suck it up.

Which is just wrong. It is entirely normal to get worn out by this sort of stuff.

May I suggest that you accept that you've had a bit of a hard run, that you take whatever time and opportunities you can to relax, that you try to be a bit more forgiving of yourself and your own feelings, and that you do check back in with your therapist. Odds are you're a little depressed.
posted by Ahab at 8:08 AM on November 30, 2010

Things are great and I shouldn't feel like this! feel how you feel. Looking at your list of recent events up there, I think you've had a pretty damn stressful time lately. (Stress can be both positive and negative.) Cf. this list of stressors. Lots of yours are there. Although IANAD, I think your former therapist's recommendation was way off the mark. Therapy is not just for the falling-apart. And don't forget, therapists Can Be Wrong. Perhaps visiting a different therapist could help you. Some have sliding-scale fees, and MSW-level counselors are usually cheaper than psychiatrists or Ph.D.-level psychologists. Perhaps you could find one who will work with your schedule, not just insist on the usual once a week or whatever.

But since you're focusing on exercise and not therapy, perhaps you could try a type of exercise that's less "go go go!" Rowing, for instance. Very soothing rhythm and a good workout.

Best of luck to you.
posted by scratch at 8:09 AM on November 30, 2010

When I've been in similar situations in the past (such as grad school), I found that taking a low-impact and brief vacation—not more than about four days—really helped. (I always found that long vacations just made me dread returning to my normal routine.) I tried to keep it simple, to not involve lots of people, and to work in plenty of "doing-nothing" time. I'd return feeling more balanced, feeling like things had been put a bit more into perspective. A "staycation" could work for this too, provided your dwelling doesn't come with stressors of its own (e.g. "I've gotta get around to this irritating maintenance task one of these days... and this is the first time I haven't been too busy to get to it...").
posted by AugieAugustus at 8:12 AM on November 30, 2010

Yes it's a lot on your plate and no you're not being a baby. Some people are more sensitive to becoming overwhelmed by things like this than others. Do you think maybe you have dysthimia? I know it sounds out there but like you, I felt overwhelmed by many "good things" in my life--new baby, job going well/solid, DH's business uplifting. But I have dysthimia and I'm overly critical/analytic of life and it seems that my depression makes it overwhelming.

I hear you on the therapy being much and perhaps it is. I would agree with others on exercising and/or finding a hobby to balance the "must do" adult life. In short--find time to be a kid again.
posted by stormpooper at 9:47 AM on November 30, 2010

You shouldn't feel bad about just watching TV. Everyone's brain needs some awake time to just be 'off'--to be concentrating on nothing at all, watching TV, or reading the web with a coffee, or whatever you find mentally easy to do. Meditation is one way to do that, or yoga, but fundamentally it's a scheduling thing--you need to set aside some time to just be off, and find a balance between on and off. You'll know you're having too much off time when you're dealing with boredom, and that you don't have enough off time when you feel like you do now.

Normal adults don't just 'suck it up'. Normal adults find a balance they're happy with and work to keep that balance.
posted by fatbird at 11:34 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can not suck it up and just deal with stuff like this. Emotions always leak out or explode and mostly hurt the people you love, or they hurt yourself. It kind of sounds like in your case they're hurting you the most. You may be doing well, but it doesn't mean you can't be stressed, or wouldn't benefit form more therapy. I note that you say you are pressed for time, however this is probably a big part of the problem and something that will need to be addressed for you to feel better

The main thing that can really help is taking time out and doing some of the things mentioned above. If you do as AugieAgustus suggests and take a four day break you'll probably buy yourself some time and feel better for a few days or a week after you return. But to really recharge your energy levels you need at least 2 weeks away from your normal life/routine. In those 2 weeks you need to focus on doing things that are soothing, slow, healthy, and restorative. You can do this at home, but it is probably better to get away for at least a few days.

Anything else will be like taking a single asprin for a migraine. I hope some of these answers help you find your way to a more energised state. Good luck.
posted by MT at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2010

I predict that you will feel much better when your workload becomes manageable. Stay on your boss about that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:54 PM on November 30, 2010

Is there anything pleasant you like to do that's NOT watching TV? I've found that setting aside a good chunk of time (two hours minimum) to watch something natural (waves, clouds, birds) can be really calming and somehow rewarding. It feels mentally and emotionally healthier than watching TV.
posted by kristi at 9:47 AM on December 1, 2010

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