As a recovering stress junkie, I know first-hand how burnout feels.
It’s a horrible combination of complete physical exhaustion with an over-stimulated mind. The phrase tired and wired sums it up.
Our mind is in overdrive and unable to stop while our body is begging us to slow down and rest.
Burnout is usually the result of chronic stress. We experience it when our nervous system doesn’t have the opportunity to recover from a stressful event before the next stress trigger starts. This means that we never get to relax, and we remain in the fight or flight response.
When we’re chronically stressed, cortisol, the stress hormone peaks. This causes our mind to race and ruminates on worst-case scenarios while causing inflammation, tension, high blood pressure and digestive problems in our physical body.
The only way to recover from burnout is to minimise our stress and nurture our nervous system back to homeostasis. This is what we teach in the Art of Relaxation.
While we can take steps to reduce our stress, it’s crucial to understand how we contribute, often unconsciously, to our stress levels. And there is a particular personality type that is more prone to taking on stress than others.
Taking on more than our fair share
The personality type that takes on more than their fair share of stress and is most prone to burnout is the Rescuer.
The Rescuer puts others’ needs ahead of their own, and they’re always there to lend a hand when other people need them. Rescuers love helping people and take on the responsibilities, problems and burdens of others. They’re always willing to lend a hand and will drop everything to help someone in need, just like a superhero.
How to tell if you’re a Rescuer
I put the needs of others ahead of my own
I feel better about myself when I’m helping others
I insist on helping others even when they don’t need my help
I take responsibility for other people’s problems and emotions.
The link between Rescuing and Burnout
Rescuers have a hard time saying no to others. They will often compromise their own needs to feel needed by others. This can be both physically and mentally exhausting.
Rescuers will go out of their way to help others, yet when their help isn’t appreciated or acknowledged, the Rescuer will feel unappreciated and even resentful.
Rescuers mistakenly believe that if they’re there to support others in their time of need, that those same people will reciprocate. And when they don’t, the Rescuer will feel bitter, disappointed and resentful.
While it might seem altruistic to help others, the Rescuer is driven by a subconscious need to feel important and worthy. And they derive their sense of worth by feeling needed.
Without someone to rescue, Rescuers may feel unworthy.
Many Rescuers have poor boundaries, which mean others easily take advantage of the free emotional labour they offer. Compounding the situation is that Rescuers often rescue to avoid their own problems.
There is nothing wrong with helping and supporting our loved ones. It’s an admirable trait. But Rescuers take responsibility for others’ problems and issues and take it upon themselves to fix others. When we take responsibility for other people’s problems, we disempower them and enable them to be victims. Rescuers need people to rescue to feel good about themselves as they derive their identity and self-worth by how much they help others.
How to stop rescuing and beat burnout
- Awareness is the first step in any change. It’s only when we become aware of our rescuing tendencies that we have the opportunity to change our behaviour.
- Learn to say no and develop healthy boundaries. When we say yes to things we don’t want to do, we compromise our own needs and feel bitter and resentful. Learn to listen to these feelings and remember that no is a complete sentence.
- Cultivate a sense of self-worth and intrinsic value. This is the tricky part. Personal development work is not all sunshine and roses. Rather, we face our core wounds to understand how these wounds drive our unconscious behaviours. Self-reflection, therapy, meditation and journaling can all help. This is also the deep inner work we do in Yoga Alchemy.
Already burnt out? We can help.
At Cultivate Calm Yoga, we are the experts in stress management. We have a range of Yoga classes and workshops to learn about stress, release stress and cultivate calm.
Our Yin Yoga classes are perfect for beginners who want to learn how to slow down, connect with themselves and soothe their nervous system.
Our Meditation classes will help you to generate self-awareness and deal with your busy mind.
And our signature Art of Relaxation Course will teach you the practical tools to lower your stress and anxiety for good.
We also have a whole page of resources on Yoga for Anxiety.