Buddhist teacher Mushim Patricia Ikeda shares her tips to avoid burnout.
There’s avoidable burnout, and there’s non-avoidable burnout. If you’re going through non-avoidable burnout — perhaps you’re a low-income single parent, or you’re the only person available to advocate for your medical needs and you have cancer — then you’re likely not reading this. Your back is against the wall, and I hope with all my heart that you’re able to get what you need. But, for those of us who can pull back from overload and overwhelm, now is the best time to make some choices toward more sustainability and joy.
A couple of tips (and I’m reminding myself as well):
First: If you feel exhausted and depleted, I invite you to have a cup of tea with yourself this weekend and remind yourself that you are a resource for your communities. When you show up grounded and rested, with a joyful, balanced mind, you are contributing to the strength and resilience of your communities at work, at play, and within your family. As has been said: self-care is community care.
Second: If someone you know is headed for crash-and-burn, intervene. It’s possible to be both pushy and loving. I recently got a text message from a friend who happens to be a life coach. It said: “I demand that we go to a park and sit on the grass.” I was overworking, ironically, in order to clear my desk so I could go on vacation for a week. I said “Okay,” and ended up blissfully lying on my back, looking up at clouds in the sky, for an hour or so.
If you need more encouragement and insight, try these three selections from the Lion’s Roar archives.
— Mushim Ikeda, guest editor
Mushim Ikeda is a social activist and teacher at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, California. She also works as a diversity and inclusion consultant.
The antidote to burnout is spiritual renewal.
“To be transformed by the practice of love is to be born again, to experience spiritual renewal,” bell hooks says. “When we commit to love in our daily life, habits are shattered. Because we no longer are playing by the safe rules of the status quo, love moves us to a new ground of being. We are necessarily working to end domination. This movement is what most people fear. If we are to galvanize the collective longing for spiritual well-being that is found in the practice of love, we must be more willing to identify the forms that longing will take in daily life.”
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Reframe what you’re doing from fighting against to loving because.
“We can be inspired to change the world because we love it so dearly, because it reveals its precious value each and every moment, because we hold it with such wondrous awe in its resiliency, creativity, and courage.”
And, finally, learn to be brave in a sustainable way — because we need you.
“Speaking as a mother and a woman of color, I think we’re all going to need to be braver than some of us have been prepared to be. But brave in a sustainable way — remaining with our children, our families, and our communities. We need to build this new ‘woke’ way of living together — how it functions, handles conflict, makes decisions, eats and loves, grieves and plays. And we can’t do that by burning out.”