Burned Out? Fix it with this.
Every now and then we all hit the wall. Whether it’s stress from your career, care taking for a family member, or any other massive life event, we can all relate to being exhausted and feeling like we’ve lost the joy.
The good news is that there is a whole team of people waiting to help you recover. It’s time for you to discover your personal wellness team.
I’ve totally been there. Twenty years ago I was living on Diet Coke, takeout food, five hours of sleep every night, and a work schedule that was truly insane. On the outside I seemed to have it all; husband, nice home, thriving career, and I looked healthy. But I was exhausted, constantly sick, and had lost my joy. Thank goodness I had yoga and a wellness team that kept my head above water, and when my marriage ended I had my wellness team on speed dial! Fast forward twenty years and lots of healthy habits later and now I’m sharing my tips with you. You get to learn my top tips for finding a wellness team that will help you recover from burnout.
My friend, your ability to be productive and joyful is directly correlated to your health and energy. Watch now and take that first step to creating your personal wellness team and bring back your joy!
Tips for a few starting places for your wellness team! This is just what’s worked for me and my yoga and music students. You may have people you already work with, that’s awesome! See what works for you and build a team that will work for you.
1. Go to your primary care physician. Reality check. When is the last time you had a full physical? When is the last time someone looked at your biomechanics system and made sure it’s in working order? There may be biological causes to some of your wellness issues, or issues lurking that you can nip in the bud. Lean on your medical support team and let them give you their perspective on your health and wellness.
2. Massage therapy. Your body is a network of tissues and organs that is designed to work together. A good massage therapist can help your physical system work harmoniously. You can reduce pain, decrease high blood pressure, increase lymphatic function, and reduce stress. In my book, this is a “need to have” not a “nice to have!”
3. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner. If you’re new to this modality it may be really fun for you to learn something new. TCM folks have a completely different way of looking at how our bodies, minds, and spirits interact to create health and longevity. Their perspective can give you a new way to look at chronic issues, can ‘unstick’ bad habits, and relieve pain. If cost is an issue, find an acupuncture school if you can, they often offer reduced rates. Back in my twenties I went to only students of TCM and rarely paid; I got great treatments that helped me get over colds more quickly and healed a really debilitating neck issue.
4. Personal trainer. If you’re new to the gym and want to get more fit, consider spending a little coin on this. Or if cost is an issue, save up for a bundle of classes and tell them that you want them to train you to be able to work on your own. This will save you time and maximize your time in the gym. Don’t be one of those people who try to work out but don’t have a clue about body mechanics, proper alignment, or injury prevention, or how to meet their goals. A few sessions will teach you so much; then you can work on your own safely and effectively.
5. This one is free! Go outside. Nature is powerful, balancing, harmonizing and enriching things you can do for your health. The Journal of Environmental Research did a meta analysis of studies involving 290 million people from 20 countries. People who spend time in green spaces have significantly reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower levels of coristol (stress hormone!), reduced heart rate and blood pressure, and lower cholesterol. Need I say more?
6. This one is free, too! Let your friends and family know that you are working towards health and wellness. Tell them why it’s important and how they can support you.
Ask them for their recommendations and direct support. Communicate to them that your health and wellness is a priority and let them support you!
Take one small action today to build your wellness team. Lace up your shoes and pop outside for a walk, call a friend and ask them for help, or schedule a check-up with your doctor! Build your wellness team and bring back your joy!
Gita: Hey guys and welcome to The Gita Brown Show, bringing harmony into your everyday life. Get inspired with practical tips for your creativity and spirit. If you're a musician, artist, or writer, or creative minded soul, you have found your source for guidance and inspiration. I am so excited that you're here with me today because today we are talking about burnout. So I'm Gita obviously and I'm super pumped to bring this to you. I have distilled over 30 years of experience in yoga, and music, and teaching, and I'm going to share with you all of my secret weapons to beat burnout and to manage your way back into health and wellness.
I've been a teaching artist for 30 years. I've been a yoga practitioner for 30 years and oh my, I have learned a lot about how to balance creativity and wellness. I've also guided a ton of students through performances and productions and busy moms through a busy school year with all of their kids. And I've seen the peaks and highs and lows of creativity, and especially as it relates to burnout. So I wanted to distill all of that information down to you today and really talk about burnout, but specifically how you can recover, recover more quickly, and most importantly prevent it from ever happening again.
I have found out that my secret weapon is to create a wellness team. One of my students just the other day said to me, "I feel like I need to be the CEO of my own health." And I'm like, that is a great way to think about it. Because if you don't manage your health and wellness, nobody else is going to.
Just for a moment here, you're a creative person, if you started picking up this podcast and you chose this episode of this show to listen to, it's probably because you're feeling a little bit of burnout, right? You saw that word and you thought, "Oh, that's me." Or you've been there before in your life too and thought you want to avoid that. So take just one moment to pat yourself on the back for listening to this episode because you have already taken a necessary step forward, a step forward in educating yourself, a step forward in getting new ideas, a step forward in creating a new pattern of health and wellness in your life. So you are already a winner because you are taking those next step. And winners always rule the day. So feel really proud of that, but also do a reality check, you know, how are you actually feeling? Do you feel burned out right now? Or can you feel burnout coming? Do you wake up pumped and ready for the day or are you living on caffeine and sugar? I have been there.
Are you a busy mom and feeling like, man, you're just not being super creative with the kids anymore or you're just running on empty and not feeling the joy in your creativity anymore? Whether your creativity as a hobby or your career advocation. Do you feel it kind of eroding around the edges that you forgotten why it is you're doing all of this work in the first place? So where ever you find yourself on that spectrum or you might even find yourself feeling pretty good and you want to stay there. Wherever you find yourself on that spectrum, remember this please, you are important. Your health and your wellness is super important. Your energy and health is directly correlated to your ability to enjoy life and to be productive. Can I say that again? You are important. Your health, your wellness is important. Your ability to be productive and joyful is directly correlated to your health and energy.
This is super important and it gets overlooked in the rush and the busyness of the day. So put that first and everything else follows. If you are already burned out, it is time to step up your game. If you're heading towards burnout, it's time to course correct. If you're doing really well and want to avoid this for the future, set up things today that I'm going to share with you in a moment so you can avoid getting burned out in the first place.
So here's where building your health and wellness team comes in, but I'm just going to back up for one moment and tell you just a tiny bit of my story so that you understand that I'm coming from this from a place of having been there and rehabbed myself out of it and into a life of health and productivity and wellness. And I really feel like if I can do it, you can do it too. And all the students that I've worked with for decades now, if they can do it, you can do it too. This is totally doable.
In my late 20s, I was what you would call a high performer, had been through all the top level conservatories, I had a board certification in music therapy, I was teaching college. By all external measures, I was a success, right? I had all the career accolades and was doing fabulous and gigging musician. Everything was great on the outside. However, my home life was crumbling. I was married to a man who was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and although I loved him very much, of course, it was immensely personally draining to go through that experience. At the same time, I was forgetting why I was playing music in the first place. I was so busy collecting those external achievements and running around, seeing more clients and doing more gigs.
I was living on Diet Coke for caffeine and energy, which is so bad, and I was living on takeout food, and I was living on like five hours of sleep a night. Now everyone looking at me from the outside thought, "Wow! She's performing this. She won that award. She's teaching here." But I was doing it on fumes and I could feel when I was performing and playing and working at the time with music therapy clients that I was not bringing the joy. And then add to that a personal life or relationship that was in deep distress and I was headed towards burnout. And friends, it was not pretty when I actually burned out. I hit rock bottom and I managed to tunnel a little bit deeper too. I caught every cold and flu that came along. I was constantly sick. I was constantly cold. I was never just at a healthy body temperature. And more than that, my personal zest for life was starting to erode.
Thank God I had been doing yoga for about 15 years before that ever even happened. So I had enough of a daily practice that kept my head just above water. But that was it. So I decided for myself, it was time to do a deep dive into yoga. I'm going to share a lot of that information with you today. And also that I needed to start to assemble a team around me that could help build up my health, my spirituality, my capacity for joy, and also the way that I thought about the world. Because I could see if I continued on that path, even though I was productive in my life, I would never reach my full potential because I was always just barely getting by. So I managed to switch it. It took a lot of work. It took a lot of years. And yeah, it took some money, but I invested in me and now I'm here to share that with you today.
So if you find yourself in that situation, know that I feel you. I have been there, I have been there unable to sleep at night, stressed, overworked, over worry. It is possible to change. So let's get into it.
I'm going to give you a sort of my top tips for wellness team today and let's set you on that path. I want to frame the conversation of the wellness team a little bit so you know what to expect. This list is not going to be comprehensive. I'm going to give you sort of my top suggestions that have worked for me and I've also seen work for dozens and dozens of students. You may already have practitioners or care providers or friends you go to. Keep going to them. This is just to get your neurons pumping, to get some ideas flowing for you so that you can start to decide for you who's going to be on your team, who are you selecting to help your health and wellness and recover from burnout or prevent it. There is going to be homework at the end, so the whole idea is for you to take this information and use it for you. See what's going to work for you.
Okay. The number one person you need to go see if you want to build a health and wellness team to help yourself avoid or prevent or recover from burnout. This may not be popular, but I'm going to say it, your primary care physician. Groan, it's not very exciting. It's not very sexy, but seriously, reality check, when is the last time you went to your doctor? When is the last time they took a peek at your cholesterol levels? When's the last time they looked at you as a total functioning organism of a biomechanical human being and made sure all the parts were working how they're supposed to? It's so easy to overlook this, especially if everything is going along just okay. If things are just okay, there may be problems lurking that you don't even know about that are affecting your health and wellness. And especially if you have reached burnout, it's really important to lean on a medical professional and have them give you that piece of the pie of how to look at and consider your health and wellness.
I get a checkup every single year. If you have insurance, most insurance providers now have that for free, which is fantastic, where you can get that primary care, the full physical, the blood work, the fasting blood glucose to see if you have maybe some prediabetes going on, thyroid check, all that great stuff can be covered by your insurance. It's super important and it's so, so easy to overlook. But remember, this body that you have is the only one that you get. At the start of the game, you get one. How are you treating it? Are you taking care of it? So go see your doctor, people. Come on.
Okay. This next one is a little bit more fun and it's one of the things that I absolutely swear by, especially if you're a performing musician, especially if you're someone who has to do something that's a desk job where you sit a lot or if you even do a more active profession or if you're just a busy person. This is really what I consider to be a need to have. It's not a nice to have. It's not a luxury. A massage therapist.
You've got to work out the kinks in your body. Your body is a massive network of tissues and organs that is designed to function together. You have this amazing connective tissue. If you can imagine for me, if you close your eyes. This connective tissue called fascia, it's kind of like saran wrap and it wraps all around your internal organs and on top of your muscles. And when that fascia gets bound and tight and hard, it's like clothes that have been wrinkled up and a good massage therapist can get in there and literally smooth that fascia out. Relieving pain, relieving tension, relieving muscle soreness, but most importantly improving your blood circulation. And guess what that does, more oxygen to your heart, more oxygen to your brain, and all you have to do is lie there.
A good massage therapist will also be working on your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. And the lymphatic system, it's this network of organs, which we won't get into, but you can ... You know when you go to the doctor and they put the hands on the side of the neck and they sort of try to see if your lymph nodes are swollen. So they're part of the immune system, but they don't operate on a pump. You are the pump for your lymphatic system. So that means if you don't move, you're not pumping your lymphatic fluid, which means your immune system isn't functioning properly. So a good massage therapist will be targeting those areas and helping you to drain and mobilize that lymphatic fluid so you can avoid things like sinus infections, colds, and improve your overall health and wellness.
Massage is absolutely mandatory I think if you're a performing musician once a month. Now I can hear you already. I hear the objections. I hear you people. This is going to cost me money. Well, yeah, it's going to cost you money, but I have a couple of points. If it's important to your health and wellness, you will make a plan for it. You might be able to afford it now by rejiggering your budget. Maybe instead of the Chardonnay, you put that towards a massage or you think, "Okay, I can't afford it now. There's no way. It's a nonstarter, but I could put it in the plan for six months for now. I want to work towards being able to afford that monthly massage." You can absolutely plan on it.
When I was starting out in grad school and I was getting massages regularly, I went to a massage school where they gave massages at a hugely reduced rate. I went to the beginner massage therapists. It was great. I saved a ton of money that way. I also, a lot of times, will barter services. I'll teach them some yoga, they give me a massage. When there is a will, there is a way. If it's important to you, you know you will find the money, so make it a priority.
Another really great person to have on your team. This is for me, one of the indispensable ones is an acupuncturist or a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. So if you already have an acupuncturist, I'm preaching to the choir. If you've never been or you're a little squeamish about needles or it seems like you don't know anything about it and it's easy to poo poo it, stop for a moment and think of this, wouldn't it be nice to catch an illness before it starts? Wouldn't it be nice to go through a cold and flu season without catching the cold and flu? Wouldn't it be nice to have such a highly functioning system that you can shrug off any pathogen that comes your way?
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine works on a little bit of a different modality. They're definitely in the preventative mode. In fact, one of my care providers from China, she's wonderful. She says, "You know in China we don't pay our doctors when we get sick because the doctor considers it to be a failing." If their patient has gotten sick, they've done a poor job and it's the doctor's responsibility to get them back to health. They pay their doctors for preventative care only. If they get sick, they don't have to pay. It's a completely different way of looking at things.
What acupuncture has done for me is it helped to stimulate my overall health and wellness. It's helped to balance the symptoms of perimenopause as I enter into middle age and I have the gray hairs to prove it. And it's also given me the ability to sort of overall tune down and tone down my neurological system and my stress response. So if my baseline stress, I'm an anxious person, runs around a seven, monthly acupuncture for me brings my overall sort of baseline level for stress and tension down to a four, which is huge. And all I have to do is show up, talk a little bit, lie on a table, take some herbs, maybe get a few needles. And no, the needles don't hurt. Why would you go to do something that's super painful? It doesn't hurt. A skilled acupuncturist is very gentle and if you're really squeamish to needles, they can do acupressure where they're simply using touch. So it's a really interesting way to get a different modality and different look at your health.
Okay. I have another little tip for you. We're just going to keep going through our care providers again, just to get your neurons pumping and think about different ways for you to build a health and wellness team. This one is what I'm putting in as a cautionary tale because I see this a lot. People come to me as a yoga teacher and as a musician's way yoga teacher all the time because they're like ready to make a change. They're pumped, they're fired up, and then they do something like they sign up for a 5K even though they've never run before, or they buy a little ... You know, this really popular little mini trampolines that people bounce on for health and they throw out their back, or they sign up at a gym and they go to the gym and they start to lose crazy amounts of weight without any instruction and then they get hurt.
I see it all the time that people who are embarking on a health and wellness initiative in their life, they go all gung ho, but they don't hire a personal trainer. And I think it's a huge mistake because I regularly, and I'm talking guys every single month and I've been teaching for 30 years, every single month have had a yoga student come to me and say, "Oh, so I went to this gym and I started doing this thing and I threw out my back." Or, "I bought this piece of exercise equipment and I started using it and I hurt my shoulder." Or, "I started to train for a marathon and I didn't hire a coach or didn't even work with a running club and now I have shin splints and it hurts to walk." And they ended up setting themselves way back, months and months back, and needing to rehab out of injury when what they were trying to do is get healthy and well in the first place.
Personal trainers do cost a little bit of money, but here was my work around for that. I worked with one really intensely for about three months, like every week and had her teach me everything that she knows about how to set myself up in the gym, what type of workouts I need to do for my health and wellness, what I can do when I'm feeling a little burnout and tired, what I can do when I'm feeling like I have more energy. I had her just teach me and train me so that I could train myself. And now I see my personal trainer a couple of times a year. That's it. A couple of sessions, maybe three, four hours a year. So I did that initial investment. Now I can go to the gym and feel totally confident that I'm meeting my goals for health and wellness, but I'm not sapping the bank in it.
There's always a workaround. And you can also find different levels of personal trainers. You can find someone who's just starting out and who's hungry for clients or is maybe still in training themselves and needs clients for free. Again, if you really want to do this, you will find your people.
The other objection that I hear a lot is that it takes a lot of work. I went through things one time with a person. I told them everything I was doing to help correct from some issues I was having with anxiety and perimenopause and I labeled out all the things I was doing: acupuncture, massage, working out, meditation, sleep, diet. And this person looked at me and said, "Ugh, that looks like a lot of work. It's just too much for me." And I'm like, what is the alternative? Do you really want to keep feeling the way that you're feeling?
Again, if you're listening to this show today, it's because you're feeling a little burned out and you want something better for yourself. So challenge yourself, know that you can start small. You can start with simple things you can do. And right now, I'm going to give you two very simple and free things you can do.
My number one favorite simple and free thing you can do is to go outside. Please go outside. Nature is one of the most powerful balancing, harmonizing, and enriching things you can do for your health. It's like a bridge that connects you from your stress to your higher self. There is just this fascinating meta-analysis from, let's see, it's the Journal of Environmental Research, and they found that people who spend more time in green spaces have significantly reduced risk for a number of chronic illnesses. So they tracked 290 million participants, not in this study. Obviously, they collated from lots of studies, but 290 million participants from 20 countries and here's what they found. Spending more time in green space is linked to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It lowers the heart rate, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, lowers blood pressure, lowers your cholesterol, reduced risk of type two diabetes. Can I get an amen yet? Go outside. Reduces over all cause related mortality and death from heart disease. Going outside.
Isn't that amazing? Do you need any more evidence? And that is free my friends. You can do it anywhere. If you live in a city, if you live in a suburb, if you live in the great rurals of Vermont, you can absolutely go outside.
In Japan, they have a practice that's becoming a bit more fashionable these days to talk about here, which is called forest bathing, which is where you go outside and you don't take a power walk, you don't jog, you don't run, you just slowly and mindfully walk through nature, take in the senses. This is one of the number one ways that I rehabbed myself from that total burnout that I was experiencing. I take a walk every single day, and there is not a single walk that I've taken outside that I have ever regretted.
Beethoven took walks for his daily inspiration. Margaret Thatcher frequently took her walks outside for meetings. Going outside is free, it's simple, it's easy, and it will greatly improve your chances of preventing burnout, recovering from burnout, and just basically bringing the joy back into your life. It's a beautiful thing. Remember, you are functionally an animal, right? Your body needs sunlight. It needs the fresh air. It needs the microorganisms that you breathe in through the earth and the trees and their respiration. Your body needs that so honor it and go outside.
There's one more little freebie and very simple thing you can do, which is to let your friends and family know that you would like them to be part of your health and wellness team. So often, we are working towards a goal or an objective and we have things that we're working towards. You know, a CD release, a book coming out, a big project that your kids are working on, anything that you're ... A big presentation at work. And we're just doing the work but we don't stop to let our friends and family know what we're doing, why it's important, and how they can help support us. It might be asking them to help you cook. It might be asking them to understand why you can't be there in a few evenings of the week. It might be just letting them know that you need a little more personal space or less personal space.
But let your friends and family know that you're looking for a team. Ask them for their referrals, their recommendations. Ask them to be part of your team so that you can rebuild from burnout or prevent happening it in the first place. Communicate with the ones that you love, that your health and wellness is going to be a priority. And I promise you, your burnout will slowly start to change. Take it slow, one step at a time.
So this is where your homework comes in because I'm a teacher, I'm always going to teach you and this homework is optional. It's your life. But you know, let me give you this, what are you going to do today? What are you going to do to build your health and wellness team today? Let me challenge you. Is it time for a physical? Do you have a massage therapist that you like haven't called in ages and they're probably wondering if you moved? Are you just going to call a friend and asked for a few recommendations? Maybe you're just going to lace up your shoes and just take a walk.
Keep it simple, but take one action today to improve your health and wellness, and to age yourself in recovery from burnout. Remember, your energy and health is directly correlated to your ability to experience joy and to share that joy with the world. If you're listening today, it's because you know that there's another level of health and harmony available to you, so take a step today to build your wellness team.
I'd love to just close today with a little chant for peace. This is a chant for peace. I'll do it in the original Sanskrit because it does come from India. I'm a yoga teacher and that's how we roll. After I chat in Sanskrit, I'll give you the English translation. It's a chant for universal peace. And this is also one of the number one ways that I help myself build my energy is by singing beautiful things. So you can chant along with me or you can just listen. It's very short and it's very sweet. It goes like this. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.
And it means may the entire universe, that means especially you, be filled with peace and joy, love and light. And now I send you peace and love. Om Shanthi, which means peace.
Thank you. And my friends, if you like this episode today, please share with your friends and spread the love. You can sign up at my website for updates. It's just my name, Gita Brown. I'll give you insider deals there and new tracks on new courses that I'm releasing, or just follow me over on social. Give me a shout out, gitacbrown, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, however you roll. Have a peaceful day, my friends. Thank you so much. Om Shanthi. Peace to you.