Dodging the burn-out: a holistic guide

Disclaimer: I am merely speaking from personal experience – as someone living with a chronic illness, an educator, an acupuncturist, person of colour, peaceful social activist and social entrepreneur. I have no background in feminism, anti-colonialism, religion or any specific spiritual practice. I have been conscious to keep the nature of this article as neutral as possible. I will ask the same of anyone that chooses to read it.

There is so much important work to be done, so we need to look after ourselves so we can be present for the long-term. Avoiding burn-out involves many aspects including self-care, self-love – open-mind, open-heart and of course, a wicked sense of humour.
Be well, work hard and practice makes perfect.

~Christina Chan, R.Ac.

Learn the art of saying “NO”.
Be honest with yourself, if you already aren’t busy enough, why are you taking on even more responsibilities. One of the most common causes of anxiety is when an individual feels over-committed. You can’t save the world if you’re swamped and stressed out – multi-tasking has a saturation point. Your efficiency, concentration and focus will improve when you’re not spreading yourself too thin.

Stand up for yourself.
If you don’t, nobody will.
Quoting Dr. Gabor Mate, “Its painful not to be validated”, he goes on to say, “You need to make room for true, internal authenticity. If you do not, it can lead to depression and anxiety because you are suppressing your need to express yourself.” It is possible to speak your mind firmly, yet with kindness, whilst you grow a spine and a thicker skin.

All things in moderation.
“Toxic substances can be life saving, and normally harmless substances can lead to death. It all has to do with balance.” ~ From ancient TCM theory.
“Substance” can be interchangeable with just about anything we are addicted to, texting, shopping, complaining, rushing – now think about the opposite of that. Strive to be moderate, it is one of the secrets to longevity.

Its OK to ask for help.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is the healthy acknowledgement of your limitations. Attempting to be entirely self-sufficient can be exhausting and alienating, even superheroes need a side-kick. Build trusting relationships by working together, sharing experiences, creating solidarity.

Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, you are only (a perfect) human being after all.
Allow room to laugh at yourself, fumble around and (re)discover. Fall down 7 times, get up 8. Mistakes or not, your intentions are there. The journey is just as valuable as the destination, so you might as well enjoy (and learn from) the ride. Please remember to accommodate that same room for others.

Looking out for each other.
If its something the Occupy Movement has taught us is our power in numbers. All living things exchange energy and when we join together, the level of connection increases. Each time you help someone who is struggling, our collective energy increases. Look out for your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers, classmates, etc, etc, etc.

Freely give and receive random acts of kindness.
Karma, its only a bitch if you are. Share your joy and it will come back to you a hundred-fold. Just be patient and try to expect nothing in return (challenging I know).

You are allowed to enjoy yourself.
You should enjoy your work, your food, your friends, your life. If you don’t, what steps will you take to change that? We do not thrive from toxic, negative environments or attitudes. Following your bliss has some wisdom to it, it can save your life.

Making time to wind-down and power-off.
For your mental health and well-being, it is necessary spend time with your body-mind, simply to check-in and observe. No analyzing, no judgements, no guilt-trips. Just be.

Ways to help you enter that space include:

  • Practicing sleep hygiene and stopping stimulating activities (work, computer, vigorous exercise) and allowing your body 45-60 min. to decompress before bed.
  • Develop a mindfulness practice such as meditation, qi gong or yoga to help you develop a relationship with whole body and focused, intentional mind
  • BREATHE, I really like focusing my breath using the “Microcosmic orbit”
    INHALE: visualize energy traveling up from your tailbone to the top of your head
    EXHALE: visualize energy traveling down from the top of your head to your pubic bone
    ->repeat 10-20 times
  • And acupuncture is an ideal medium to bring your attention within, which may allow people to safely release old emotions and tensions, while providing a potent and healing rest. You didn’t think I’d forget about acupuncture…

Go forth and be the change you want to see you the world.

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