Burnout, Adrenal Fatigue, etc.
This is a stub and needs more work.
There's a conference presentation on this topic ("Better Spoons") here.
There's an online course on this topic ("Developing Better Spoons") here.
What is (personal) Energy?
Our physical body runs on energy. Our metabolism is about how our body produces energy.
And it's controlled by neurotransmitters, hormones, etc. — we have basically 3 modes.
It's all controlled by our autonomic nervous system, and the modes are sympathetic, parasympathetic, and some kinda between 'coasting' in neutral. This is an oversimplification, science & medicine is still sorting it all out — as are folk working on PolyVagal theory, but it works to rough it out.
Sympathetic is the "panic" system — basically cortisol + epinephrine focused. Emotionally it's fear-based, avoidance-based. Even the "fight" response is "make it stop".
Parasympathetic is more passion-based/love-based stuff like "wanting" or desire, gratitude, compassion, love, etc. — running "towards" things. Seeking things out. (exploration, adventure etc.)
When our lives are not in danger, running our life in fear mode burns energy differently than if we can switch over to a more secure "desire" mode.
A car going from reverse to forward requires a brief moment (at minimum) of "neutral". So does switching between panic & passion mode when it comes to our metabolic energy. This is generally a missing element in a lot of grounding work or presence work.
Therapists often try to get folk into neutral — grounded etc. and don't seem to teach people how to get into the desire mode. When people go back into the real world, they switch back to their habitual mode (panic mode) in order to get things done. Society generally tells people they have to "run life in overdrive/panic mode" with deadlines and caffeine and adrenaline and avoiding punishment. A lot of shoulds and have-tos.
What's missing is that once people enter neutral mode, they have an option to switch to love/desire/want energy. Digging for their big WHY they are doing the thing. Do you want to work for fear of poverty, or work to achieve your dreams? Which feels better?
We call this "choosing better spoons."
What is burnout?
Burnout is what happens when someone is running their life in panic mode so often, or to the point, that their reserves or resilience runs out.
What does burnout look like?
Burnout is a drop in motivation and resilience to the point that someone has nothing left to give, and they lose motivation. It's different from major depression in that the person still generally goes through the motions and is not fully immobilized by it, but they're mostly checked-out, on a short fuse/tether (ready to explode, gets angry easily, very "fed up"), and a classic sign of burnout is the temptation to ragequit & run away — a fugue state — or actually doing it. So the person who quits their job and moves to another town and takes up a totally different career without having consciously planned to do so was probably burned out.
Burnout doesn't need to be career-centric. Folk can burn out from college, relationships, social circles, volunteer work, etc. Someone who drops out of college suddenly, or who maybe changes colleges & degree programs, etc. may be burned out. Usually burnout centers around some type of perceived obligations that one feels bogged down with — so caregiver burnout is a real thing as well, one can burn out from caring for disabled relatives or children, or from family obligations, etc.
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