What We Forget When We Talk About Burnout
July 23, 2018
It was supposed to be a relaxing Saturday night: dinner, with her best friends at one of her favorite restaurants. But as Brittany Luse, the co-host of Gimlet Media's podcast The Nod —a podcast focused on Black life in America—sat in a cab on her way there, she suddenly found herself bursting into tears.
“I went over all the things I felt grateful for: I’ve got a good job, a healthy, beautiful family, a great relationship with my boyfriend, and the kindest, loveliest friends,” Luse tells Shine. “And I was about to meet a bunch of them for dinner. I should have been feeling happy and excited, but instead I was sobbing.”
The reason: Complete and utter burnout.
You Can’t Run on Passion Alone
We tend to think if we love what we’re doing—our 9-5, our get-togethers with friends, our side hustle—we can become invincible to burnout. It’s as if running on passion will magically exempt us from one of our body’s most basic needs: rest.
But, as Luse learned, it’s not the case. You can’t run on passion alone, no matter how much your hustle lights you up. Hours giving your energy—whether it’s enjoyed or not—always add up.
You can’t run on passion alone, no matter how much your hustle lights you up.
“At The Nod we work really hard to put out the best possible episode each week—not just for ourselves, but out of a responsibility to show all the dimensions Black folks possess,” she says. “That desire will sustain me when nothing else will, but I got to a point when I looked at my calendar and every day was jam-packed from morning to night!”
Luse took a hard look at her schedule and realized in saying “yes” to everything—all things she enjoyed—she constantly said “no” to letting herself recharge. And, ultimately, it started to take away the joy in the things she loved.
According to Psychology Today, loss of enjoyment is one of the first signs burnout has come to town. “At first, loss of enjoyment may seem very mild, such as not wanting to go to work or being eager to leave,” explains Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. “Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends.”
“Without intervention, loss of enjoyment may extend to all areas of your life, including the time you spend with family and friends,” explains Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D.
And that’s what Luse felt. Suddenly, running on “everything’s great” didn’t make her feel so great. “I felt like taking a nap for days,” she says. “I was robbing myself of the ability to step back and truly love what I’m doing and enjoy my life.”
Start Saying ‘Yes’ to Yourself
So, how did she bounce back from burnout? Luse said she learned to say “yes” to herself and “no” to other things—even if they were things she enjoyed.
She started small—making time to go see a movie solo, something she loves doing. Now, she makes a regular date with herself—right there on her calendar next to her other commitments—so she prioritizes me time. It helps her know when to say no.
And instead of feeling guilty for missing out, she reminds herself that she has to feel well to enjoy the things that are going well. “There’s no way I can be the best possible creator, friend, partner, sister, or daughter if I’m not in the right shape physically or mentally to do so.”
'There’s no way I can be the best possible creator, friend, partner, sister, or daughter if I’m not in the right shape physically or mentally to do so.' - Brittany Luse
Her advice to other people burned out—but loving what they do? Don’t feel guilty for it. Slow down. Say yes to less things. Say yes to yourself more. And know that you’ll enjoy everything all the more for it.
“By slowing down like that, I’m able to work harder on The Nod and still have energy for the things outside of it that I love,” she says.
And know that if, say, you’re sobbing on the way to dinner with your friends wishing you could just be home in stretchy pants, you’re not alone—and you can bounce back from burnout one “me time” sesh at a time.
Get a sneak peek of Brittany's Shine Story above, and check out the full version here.
Read next: You Are Your Most Important Relationship