June 4, 2012

The Eight Basic Salves for Burn-Out.

I spent this evening with a childhood friend…

…in town visiting from NYC, just talking and being tired and she was okay with that—she, for whatever reason, didn’t need me to be charming, didn’t need me to convince her to do this or that or text funny things…she was just happy to dress beautifully and join me at a political party and go out with me to the theater which turned into dinner at Oak, then gelato/sorbet then, just talking and safely chaste cuddling, at home.

(She has a better half, so we’re just like brother and sister, and I wouldn’t want to cross a line that would violate the comfort of our relationship, her relationship, her integrity, or mine).


But our evening together confirmed what I’ve suspected. A month ago, I burned out. Most people have told me I need a vacation.

But I don’t need a vacation: work piles up too fast if you take a vacation. Returning from travel is what burned me out in first place.

It’s like this:

What I need is cuddling.

So here’s a little list of things I need that I’m not getting. I’m making this list for myself, so that I begin to attend to my poor, blown-out mind and tired body…but I know many of us are stressed, wiped out, burnt out, deflated. So hopefully this personal rumination will serve as a personal reminder to a few of you.

Eight basic cures for stress:

“And the antidote to burnout is, symbolically, a return from adventures, from trials and tribulations, to the womb, to an inner sanctum where we can relax completely and finally, once again, experience vulnerable, wide-open love. Then and only then may a deeply feeling sigh of relief come, like rain on a parched field.”

1. Water. I think that’s probably why I rely on weekly baths, so—hot water hugs me on every side, soaking out my stress. That’s why I love hot tubs, not that I’ve had the dough to work mine for…five years. And that’s why I love hot springs, though I haven’t been to one in…10 years? Well, that’s why I love swimming pools, and I hope to make it at least a few times, this summer. That’s why I love reading a non-digital…you know, a book…by the river. I’ve done that three times in the past five years. (Clearly, this here entrepreneur needs to make more of an effort, now, to take care of myself) In any case, that’s why I love water of any kind.

2. Intimacy. Another cure, if you’re lucky enough to have someone to love you, is intimacy. Cuddling. Equivalencies if you’re alone: getting a massage, or sleeping in the fetal position, or even perhaps going for a hike to a beautiful spot with a beautiful view, and spending some alone time.

3. Exercise I enjoy. This is vital for maintenance, but not enough for me for recovery, now that I’ve really blown out my mind and body for the first time in 10 years of building my life and business. For me, this category includes my commute: switch driving for your bicycle or walking, and it’ll make a world of difference.

4. Real Food. Real food as defined by Michael Pollan, as nothing you’ve ever seen an ad for. The less packaged, the better. Less than five ingredients. Food that your great-grandmother would recognize as food.

5. Meditation, in the morning after waking and in the evening before sleep. Even a few minutes each is vital.

6. Community. Depressed, stressed, overly introverted, blown out from extending outward too much, shy, angry, confused…whatever I’m feeling is fast fixed by community. I bike downtown, wait in line to get a coffee, and before I know it my grunts of hello have turned into inarticulate mutterings of honesty. Soon, my gruff “Well I’ve been having a hard time” has turned into talking about the problem…of re-taking a view from the top of the hill, seeing the problems and questions clearly, and being “more-over” it.

7. Animals & Nature. Working with the earth—gardening. Hiking with your dog—nature, no wifi, no cell phone, just you and your (rescue?) dog. Unplug, literally. Leave your phone behind. Get some fresh air.

8. Sex. Orgasm is, in Buddhism, said to be one of the three moments in which it’s easiest to attain enlightenment. And it’s by far the funnest of the three (the other two are sneezing, and the moment of death—but, really, any sharply defined moment of sudden transition will do. Perhaps that’s why some people love horror movies. Boo!).

*Again, vis a vis sex: many of us are single, alone, lonely—let’s remember that making friends with being alone is a wonderful power—liking oneself means we’re always with your best friend, wherever we go.

What’d I miss?



Bonus: Stress! Salves:


Meditation for Busy People!

get thee to a garden like this one:

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anaguardia Nov 2, 2014 1:43am

Yes, yes. I love this. And it's not easy, I even like that you also fail. I was reading No. 1 like: I need a bath tub, no wait, he also doesn't have one, maybe a river the pool? oh, yes, then I'm too lazy but when I do, I love it.

I guess touch is a big thing here, so lets all also touch ourselves. Burnout warriors unite 🙂

Annie Jun 2, 2014 12:14pm

Ooh, that's a good list. I understand completely the need to be near water. For me, that's the sea. I'll settle for a nice river, lake, swimming pool… even a good garden pond. But you can't beat being by the sea.

I totally agree with what someone said earlier about laughter. A good laugh can really change your mindset.

I also like what someone said about volunteering too, but personally I couldn't do that if I felt too burnt out. I know helping others is amazing and powerful medicine but it can also demand a lot and when I've reached burn out for a while I've just had nothing more to give.

Rogelio Nunez Jun 26, 2013 9:58pm

Well don’t forget the power of yoga asana n pranayama. It can

Consist of active n inactive restorative poses. Inversions r magical

Try a handstand by wall. Bipartisan karani 10 minutes. After teaching

2-3 classes n driving everywhere this pose brings me back to life.

Just a few mins per day consistently.

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Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.