Burnout Solution 4: The Help Team
A lot of the reactions I get are from the people who support burnout victims, help people with creative anxieties or step up to the plate for those who get depressed for not achieving their creative life goals. So I thought, let’s give a few quick pointers on what to expect when you are part of the Help Team.
A shoulder can be enough The first thing is: you don’t always need to offer full-blown help. When we see someone in need, we have the natural tendency to reach out and try and help them. And it's true, a burnout patient is feeling bad. But here’s the kicker: they should be allowed to feel that feeling. You don't need to fix the feeling, or try to make them feel better. Feeling bad will steer them into knowing what behavior they need fix in order to feel good again. So trying to help them or encourage is not always the way forward. Sometimes they just need to feel it all sucks. It is good to just acknowledge the negative, even when you don’t understand it. It could be enough.
Back off when needed Another tip is to back off when you feel like doing so. If the burnout patient is taking too much of your own energy, you should simply back away. Don’t hesitate and don’t give in to passionate pleas, just take some distance. Of course, you can monitor. But if it takes too much from you, its better to back away. This will actually help the victim. First of all they need you to remain strong. And secondly it is good for them to be confronted with reality, as it will speed up their recovery.
Don’t be harsh… but do be firm.
Know that you're dealing with trauma It is also good if you have a sense of what the victim is going through. A good way to look at it is that they are suffering a traumatic experience, comparable in stress levels to accidents and war traumas. That's no joke. A burnout patient has so much stress hormones flowing through their body they have trouble living and connecting to the present. They are either mentally reliving the past constantly or creating non-existent scenarios in their mind about what could happen in the future. So if things are going really bad you should reconnect them with the here and now. Connect them with their surroundings, with their body (a hug for instance will work) and by talking to them.
Stay positive through the grind
This one might sound weird, but in a way, being in a burnout is like being in the hardest part of an exercise or training. You want to stop, give up, let it slide. But you can't, you have to finish those push-ups or that run, even if it hurts like hell. Afterward the victim of a burnout will feel better, even satisfied, just like you feel when you've conquered that training. In other words, it's a grind. And when they feel that they can't continue the grind, you can be the coach that reminds them why they are going through it: they'll come out much, much stronger. Staying positive will remind them of that light at the end of the tunnel. So, those are just a few first pointers. Remember, they feel bad and need time to rebuild their body and psyche. But they will inevitably recover. So standing firm is often enough. Be there for them. And make sure they feel that love. And take it easy. Love.
(Check out the book Restart here)
Rogier van Kralingen