Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing the inspiring stories of passionate women who inspire me, in addition to snippets of my own journey in purpose-driven and intentional living.
Given Numi’s ongoing theme of wellness and self-care, I felt that it would be a meaningful addition to these stories to talk about the inevitable burnout that comes with passionate living, and how to counteract it with good self care practices. For many who are invested in causing positive change in the world around them, there is a dark side effect. In order to live differently or pursue a cause you’re passionate about, you need to engage with the dark and ugly parts of the world or society that you are trying to change. This can cause stress, disillusionment, and in extreme cases, even a breakdown of one’s physical health.
Here are a few strategies that have I have personally used, plus ideas from other passionate people within my circle:
Surround Yourself With People Who Ground You
Whether you’re isolating yourself, or throwing yourself into your work without taking time to rest or spend time with your community – I find that both of these patterns result in a lot of loneliness. When you’re a passionate person, it’s easy to develop “tunnel vision” when it comes to your cause or advocacy and to live in a narrowed world focused on that one singular aspect of live. In order to care for yourself properly and sustain a long, happy life while pursuing your passion, it is so essential to have relationships that help you stay grounded and focused. Look for the people in your life who encourage you to see the bigger picture, and cultivate those friendships.
Practice gentleness toward yourself, and be gentle toward others. When you’re passionate about purposeful living and others don’t share your values, it can cause feelings of judgement or even bitterness. Those feelings of anger or bitterness fester and become poisonous to your soul and may even cause rifts in relationships or conflict. It is a challenging journey to learn to accept that you cannot always change the perspectives of others, but ultimately being able to let go of the need to “convert” everyone to your way of thinking and to love them the best that you can, differences and all, is so freeing. Gentleness with yourself can be even more difficult than being gentle with others! For me, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome in being gentle with myself was releasing my deeply-ingrained perception that “self care” is selfish. Though, as with all things, self care must be practiced in moderation or it does run the risk of becoming self-indulgent in it’s most extreme form, I now accept that it’s not only healthy but necessary to spend time caring for my body, mind, and soul.
Create Rituals That Calm and Relax You
Though rituals like meditation, taking a relaxing bath, or practicing yoga might be the activities that spring into your mind when you hear the words “calming ritual”, take time to really discern what activities are uniquely best for you and your lifestyle- and then make room for them in your schedule. Spending time with my closest circle of friends on a weekly basis is one of the most life-giving rituals in my life, for instance. I also like sitting in bookstores or libraries and reading a good fiction book, burning candles, and spending time being active outdoors.
Breathe and Release Negativity
Whether it’s an ignorant or inflammatory comment from an online troll, or the drain on your emotions that is the result of intentionally putting yourself in a situation where you witness injustice, negative emotions come with the territory of purposeful living and advocacy. Don’t underestimate the power of breathing techniques to release unwanted feelings, calm the nervous system, increase focus, and reduce stress. Download an app that will help you practice breathing techniques like Prana Breath or Breathe2Relax, or simply google a few you tube videos that will give you a toolbox of techniques for the next time you’re caught feeling overwhelmed.
Do you have any tips for overcoming burn out and practicing self-care? Leave a comment below!