If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that each of my blogs corresponds with a pillar of my burnout recovery model, THRIV.
T - Tending to Yourself
H - Harness Social Support
R - Recharge Through Detachment
I - Ignite Compassion Satisfaction
V - Vow the Honor Your Humanness
I cycle through these on the blog, through the THRIV Newsletter, and in the Support Communities. This week is about Harnessing Social Support, so last week I was supposed to write the blog by Friday. Most weeks I have a draft done by midweek so my copywriter can proof it and make suggestions. But last week, Friday came around and I still hadn't written this blog.
And I just couldn't make myself.
I was sitting at my desk staring at the blank page and nothing was coming. So finally, with great frustration, I Slacked a message to my copywriter and said, "No blog this week unless I get inspired." I closed my laptop, left my desk, and went and sat in the living room.
I turned on the tv, which is rare for me. I'm not a typical "tv watcher." In fact, when I married my husband in my late 20s, I had a small tube tv in my living room that had never even been hooked up. But nonetheless, I turned on YouTube TV and started scrolling through the shows. Something caught my attention and I selected it: Halloween Baking Championships.
I started watching it and took a nice, nostalgic trip down memory lane. When I was a kid I loved baking with my mom around the holidays, and she passed away earlier this year, so watching the show felt so joyful and sad at the same time.
And I watched and watched and watched. And then I made a list of ingredients I needed to do a bunch of baking and texted it to my husband. He arrived at the end of the day with arms full of baking groceries. And I watched and watched and watched.
I binge-watched an entire season of Halloween Baking Championship last Friday. On Saturday, I made a grocery list for dinners — the first I've made in a long while. My husband has been steering the ship in this department because I've been in a bit of a funk with it.
Then on Sunday I baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (click for the recipe) with my 3 1/2 year old son and also cooked dinner — again, a first in a good, long while!
I sat this morning thinking about what has gotten into me.
What causes a busy burnout strategist to abandon the weekly blog, binge-watch a baking show for an entire day, and then suddenly have this re-emergence of a love for cooking and baking?
I thought and thought and thought.
And a couple of things came to mind that I want to share with you today:
1) Rest doesn't always have to be planned and strategic
I talk about purposeful, planned, strategic rest A LOT. The reason I talk about that is because most folks don't purposefully and strategically plan for rest. They don't engage in what I call "active resting," and active resting is so powerful! But all rest doesn't have to be active or strategic. It's okay to take a day to binge-watch a show that brings back warm feelings. In my focus on strategic rest, I had stopped engaging in spontaneous rest --- perhaps even shamed myself in moments where I desired it. Spontaneous rest has value!
2) Grief can't be ignored and must be expressed.
My mother was the most influential, supportive, and consistent person in my life. During her last 6 months, I didn't work a lot. I turned down a lot of opportunities. One of the last conversations we had was about my business. I had applied to present at a national conference and had been accepted, and I was considering canceling because I didn't want to leave her. But Mom believed in my work almost as much as she believed in my ability to do it, and she knew presenting on a national stage was an opportunity for potential clients to meet me and see the value of my work face to face. She urged me to go, regardless of her impending passing, and I told her I would — but I didn't book the ticket until after she passed.
After she passed, I threw myself into my work, publishing a bestselling book in record time, booking clients all over the U.S., and pushing myself to do the work that I knew she believed in — and to some extent, forcing myself to work instead of feeling and expressing the grief.
I started to feel the overextension in the beginning of October, and I began to slowly re-evaluate my burnout prevention plan.
But this past weekend was big for me.
It was three days of doing nothing related to this work. Watching TV. Grieving. Baking. Therapy. TV. Grieving. Family. Family. Family.
And it revitalized my enjoyment of my regular, everyday life in ways I didn't even realize I was missing.
I am a human, and you are a human. There is no mission or job that is more important than or that circumvents our need for deep rest or deep grief.
Plan your rest. Actively rest. But when you need to binge-watch a show, do it without guilt and shame.
And allow yourself to feel the sadness you need to feel about whatever it is in your life that is sad right now.
It made a huge difference for me this week, and that's why I'm sharing it with you.
Being emotionally healthy and avoiding/recovering from burnout isn't a perfect journey, but it's a journey worth taking.
And I love being on that journey with each one of you!
I'd love to hear about your wins & struggles in the Teacher Care Network Support Communities.
-Jen Johnson, PhD
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