There has been a lot of talk this year about BURN OUT. And yes, let's have that conversation. Never before has there been such a large group of people leaving the workforce. We are tired. In all the ways.
And yes, leaving a job that you hate or that takes you for every single thing you have to give is a good thing. Three years ago I would have been content with calling what we are seeing as burn out and leaving it at that. But we are not where we were pre-pandemic. We are here. Now. In the midsts of a tragedy that has us all begging for more stamina.
It is impossible to really have a conversation about anything right now without acknowledging TRAUMA. And there is good reason why we are making trauma a little bit neater by calling it other things. Because other things are neater. In fact, most things that we categorize separately from trauma are less messy, but nearly everything right now, psychological or not, is deeply connected to trauma. And trauma is hard. It is messy, pervasive, and impacts every aspect of our lives. Trauma feels like carrying an extra 30 pounds with you everywhere. Everything is harder. Everything has weight.
Trauma cannot be coached away, or taken to task in a mastermind group. I really wish it could be (give me all the coaching and mastermind groups). Then I'd be really great at processing my own trauma. But trauma is not orderly, convenient, or predictable. Trauma is life changing, for better or for worse.
And with that said, what do we do with something so hard and so messy? I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. It is not fun or hopeful to bring something to light that doesn't not have an easy answer. And that's not to say suggestions for navigating burn out, et al., are not helpful and supportive. They are, but let's remember that helpful and supportive is not the same as treatment.
And here's that question, again. So what do we do? Well, for one, we put TRAUMA where is deserves to be right now and that is included in all the conversations about burn out, fatigue, anxiety, depression, confusion, grief, all the things. Then, let's be real about what it takes to recover from TRAUMA. And it takes work. Mostly therapy (and there are super successful methods like EMDR to treat trauma), and also work, and commitment. Trauma is processed through therapy, rest, and a very incremental and intentional system of experiencing joy.
Often times trauma steals our capacity for joy. When we experience trauma, joy can seem really, really big and threatening. Joy would mean we would have to let loose enough and feel safe enough to let something else in. And when we are traumatized, that capacity can significantly diminish. The road back from trauma is about small, slow, intentional steps.
Ugh. Fuck slow. But here we are.
I do not have all my ideas about this fully parsed out, but I can say that I will be writing more and sharing more about trauma, including my own past experience with acute PTSD with hallucinations. Yep, you read that right. I have worked through my own trauma, treated those experiencing trauma and am currently working through the collective trauma of this pandemic. It's real. I know you feel it too.
In my recent search for information that I think can really help, I came across this podcast episode about changing they way we view mental health and work. If you haven't listened to WorkLife with Adam Grant, I cannot recommend it enough. He provides grey matter melt on a weekly basis. The episode linked below is brilliant and speaks to the necessary space we are all going to have to make for rest. Because, rest works.
Give a listen and let me know what you think. Also, let me know how you are incorporating rest into your life right now. For me, it's baths, getting in bed with the dogs and family and watching some Nailed It on Netflix, and skateboarding - not all rest needs to look like rest ;)