7 min read

How You Know You Need a Fill Up: You've Had Enough, Already.

Our capacity to heal is as infinite as our capacity to burn out even further. It’s essential to our collective survival that you take a break.
Tea pot on blue background pouring red licorice into a white tea cup.
filip mroz on unsplash

Feeling bad, sad, or mad is ok.

Do you feel guilty for every little thing you do for yourself? If the answer is yes, how long have you been in burnout?? If enjoyment feels like a splurge, unnecessary, or extra, it's essential.

We don’t have to ration rest or fill up our souls like a gas tank. There is no way top off, because our capacity to heal is as infinite as our capacity to burn out further. We’re not binary so how could happiness or sadness be our only options?

To aid “rest and digest” we must calm and engage parasympathetic. To heal our stomachs (where 90% of serotonin is made), we need to take a break. One bad night of sleep destroys over half our gut biome…(now you know why I have heartburn).

Our souls don’t need diets–if anything they need feasts–but our media habits do! It’s not cheating to watch a rom-com instead of doom scrolling. We don’t have to starve ourselves of love and peace because others are suffering (or because people are actually being fucking starved on purpose). Yes, hunger strikes are admirable af. But recognizing that you've had enough or done enough is reallllllly important. Solidarity takes many forms.

It’s imperative to our collective survival that we take breaks (you and me both, kid). Seriously. We can’t ALL stay in an overwhelmed, activated, agitated, and dysregulated state 24/7.

"All feelings are welcome here."
"All feelings are welcome here."

Feeling good is okay, too.

When you see someone happy or enjoying their life for a hot minute, resist the urge to say "Oh how nice for them. How can they just can ignore this giant pile of garbage? Don't you see the tall AF flames?!"

First of all, yes, it is nice for them. Good for them. I'm here for that kind of living in the moment. Aren't we here to wish others peace and happiness? Why wish others pain, anguish, or suffering?

Second, PLEASE Don’t mistake someone who shows up full of energy and joy as someone who doesn’t know pain.

Showing up with a smile isn’t freaking easy. It’s often a Sisyphean effort. Don’t assume they don’t know struggle or fear.

I suggest you follow and surround yourself with these magical humans. Clearly they found a way forward, a way to #KeepGoing in the capitalist hellscape. Stop resenting others who got off the wheel or found a way not to doom spiral. Instead, celebrate them!

Don’t mistake healing or inspiring diatribes for something else. Don't dismiss good advice use more affirming language instead of negative words as toxic positivity. If you're wary of every happy face or laugh, I guarantee you'll miss whatever lesson they learned–and we all need some of what they have figured out.

Don’t diss the gift you’re being given with a CTA to put your energy into the good. Instead, you take a minute and enjoy something, because you cannot keep running on empty. Don't trust me; trust yourself.

We all need someone to snap us out of it, especially neurodivergent, justice-driven, hyper-focused creative types. We need to hear, “Just breathe” or “Sing” or “Nap” or “Pause”… And, when we bristle at the mere suggestion of taking a moment to find peace, we need it even more.

Am I suggesting you can't be sad, or go dark for a while? Absolutely not. Feel your feels; don't stuff them.

In fact, I have said this before, but it bears repeating.

"We can go down with this ship, but why? Why choose to remain trapped in golden handcuffs and work ethic that says “Do, and then die” instead of “Do less, and live well”? Instead of fighting being underrepresented, unionize. Instead of taking a break someday, finalize. Instead of “have to” — prioritize."

I'm only here as the canary–as a reminder. If you feel like you're suffocating, you gotta get some goddamn air.

"Human Givers" have needs, too.

If you have "human giver syndrome" as the Nagaski sisters call it in "Burnout," you're likely pretty bad at boundaries. You may struggle to asking for what you need. And you probably feel mountains of guilt when taking time for YOU.

I thought I was great at boundaries; apparently I have room to improve. I am, however, really good at asking for what I need and seeking comfort.

Sensory wise, everything has always been turned up to 11. This includes whatever causes discomfort. My mom called me the princess in the pea–feeling every fold or grain of sand in the sheets. A bad smell could send me running as if I was being tortured.

The plus side? Since I was small, I sought the "goods"–a soft blanket, the right temperature, the perfect salty chip. I have always been really good investing my resources in things that feel good. I spend my time and money now. Even when I am doing well, I don't hoard a lot away for someday.

I ignore what other people think I should enjoy or spend my money on. (ex: I drive a 20 year old car; I get take out a lot!) I've never had a problem spoiling myself, or asking for what I need. I've learned these skills are rare for a "human givers."

First, as givers and caring humans, we have to get real. Don't we matter too? We need to learn how to break the cycle of doing constantly, and for others more than ourselves. We don't have to give till we bleed. For activists, remember that's not a regenerative, sustainable approach.

Giving Double Chai Vibes: How to Give and Save Life
They will not maintain supremacy indefinitely. Oceans rise; empires always fall. They will not make me a believer or force beliefs on others. I already see: the Emperor is as naked as the day he was born.

A lot of my friends and clients, especially women or anyone raised in deeply religious, traditionally patriarchal household, deprives themselves of feeling good. "Spoiled" is bad.Worse, it's a sin. (Fuck that!)

Caregivers actively avoid it, until they learn the hard way it's the key to survival. When you're so used to struggling, being uncomfortable, or watching others do the same, you start to believe you're selfish for seeking comfort.

If you're frozen but want to move forward, remember learned helplessness can be unlearned. Even if it is self-indulgent to take a minute to be creative or dance in your birthday suit, my advice is this: Embrace your inner hedonist.

Go spoil yourself in the most extravagant way imaginable, or start small. Go lounge, eat in repose, take a long walk. Turn off your alerts, or your whole damn phone. Go lie in the sun, or shade, and read a book, or don't...for hours. You have to start somewhere.

Chill enough, together.

If we only Go, go, go! then we will break, break, break. We need to shift from ACTIVE to REST more often. Yes, it is hard, but we both know it's necessary.

This is a collective effort, so ask for help. We can't have people losing their shit on each other so give yourself and others permission to just be.

Listen to your innervoice, too. If it's shouting over the crackling fire or hot coals,"Stand back!" "Watch out!" "I see smoke!" maybe get the fuck out, and get some air. Alarms go off for a reason. We can't all fight the flames at once, or we'll have no one left breathing.

When you're over it, but you don't know what comes next, "we" do. The only way forward is together.

You were not meant to go it alone. The Beauty of The Collective: Preventing Founder Burnout. — Collective Flow Consulting
Startups and solopreneurs don’t have the luxury to hire 10 people—even 1 is a stretch. BUT we can invest a little more so we don’t keep doing it all ourselves and burnout. Not sure where to start? We got you.

It's ok to say, enough for today. Go, take a nap. Eat some mint chocolate chip ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. Read fairy-porn or some other YA series. Binge watch comic shorts on TikTok. Sit in the grass with your dog. Finger paint with a toddler. Rage-write into the night. Drink a giant glass of Pinot. Did I say, "Take a nap!" yet?

I promise the Dumpster Fire will still be here, if you take a minute to cool off. Unfortunately, even though we are making progress (and we are!) earth keeps getting hotter; politics does too. You don't need to fuel this hot mess. You need to fuel YOU, because the patriarchy sure AF isn't going to fix itself. As I said before, the The Sun Don’t Shine 24/7.

"Even the sun goes down, for half the day, so we don’t see it but it’s there, radiating and glowing. Close your eyes; listen to music; put on your favorite sweats; and log off. Stay hydrated. Go take a nap. Recharge.

Your burn rate should not equal full burn out. Your labor is not a favor. Workers rights include the right to opt out of work. Period."

If you find yourself buried by the weight of it all, it's okay to walk away for a day or two. You've given more than enough. We both know you're not going anywhere. I know you'll show up again tomorrow, because you my friend, are the goddamn sun.