Thoughts on burnout. From a mental health perspective:
I work as a therapist and was recently finding myself teetering on the edge of burnout again. I seem to ebb and flow out of these two states. One of having enough capacity to hold space for people and one of reduced capacity where I literally feel my body aching from the emotional labor.
One thing was different for me this time around....I stopped blaming myself. I use to think burnout was a result of my own personal failure to set stronger boundaries and be firm in my resolve to not give in to the stress of the rat race. However these last few weeks I finally saw another angle to it, that it is impossible to live within this current economic system and not submit to burnout from time to time. Its built into the very laws of the system.
From this vantage point I can now exercise more compassion for myself and see how I am entwinned in a system that is hell bent on working me to the bone, literally. It's another example of how the culture I am a part of is failing us all.
So I take the necessary steps towards "self-care" - a word that irritates me more than soothes me, because once again the onus is on the individual to fix the problem. A problem that is so large scale it is beyond any individual action alone. The same can be said for those struggling with anxiety and depression - what if its not entirely your fault?
If we only see these things as personal and a result of our individual action or inaction then we are simply operating from within that system. Its not personal, its actually a crisis of of our time and it demonstrates to me that I am part of a failing, ruptured system. One that doesn't serve its people but only serves profit. I'm referring to the dominant Western Culture, the one I was born and raised within.
So this leaves me feeling less guilty for not being "better" at avoiding burnout and more aware of the cracks and failings of this troubled time we're in. I actually feel relieved albeit dumbfounded by the power of these times and how deprived and deeply lost we are as a culture that places so much value on economic "success" and hyper individualism over community, support and wellness. Maybe, just maybe, its the system that's burning out.