Adult Children and Burnout

Written by Judy Klipin

I spent most of March resting.  I was supposed to go to America but was grounded by my ear (please see previous blog post!).

I found myself at home with nearly three weeks blocked out of my diary. For about three seconds I considered filling the time with work and then I was overwhelmed by a need to sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep some more.

I realized just how tired I was.  For the few months leading up to my three-week rest, each of my key life areas had been affected by my exhaustion.  My physical health had not been optimal for some time.  My mental functioning had been missing in action.  I was emotionally exhausted.  My daily practice of quiet time and spiritual connection had fallen by the wayside some time ago.  My relationships were not quite as harmonious as I like them to be.

Scarily, I hadn’t been aware that any of this had been happening.  Sure I had vague inklings that I was slightly off kilter, but I didn’t have the time or space to connect the dots and realize that I was – yet again – teetering on the edge of burnout.

Ironically, I had and have been collaborating with the other adult child coaches to develop a Burnout Recovery Coaching Programme.  We had identified a need amongst our clients to offer information, support and tools to address and prevent burnout.  (This life coaching programme will be ready for the public in the next month or so – contact me to find out more.)

Adult children are prone to burnout; the characteristics and quirks that define us make us sitting ducks for exhaustion:

Adult children find it hard to say no.  Even when we don’t want to do what we are being asked, our ‘others-centredness’ compels us to say yes. 

Adult children are very empathic and scarily intuitive.  This means that we don’t only feel our own pain, sadness, joy, despair, hope – we also feel the emotions of and for the people around us.  Often overwhelmingly so.

Adult children are very unforgiving of themselves.  When tired and not as productive as usual, we push ourselves even harder, rather than taking a rest.

And so it goes on…

The unexpected rest allowed me to viscerally see and understand how being an adult child pre-disposes me to burnout.  I relived – thankfully briefly – the horror of burnout and remembered the importance of rest.  My late father, the wisest person I know, always used to tell me that the only cure for tiredness was sleep.  And last month, I really, really got what he meant.

As a result of my rest, I am back to my usual level of joy and productivity.

I am sleeping properly and waking feeling refreshed.

I am able to exercise again.

My creativity has returned and my intuition is even sharper than usual (sometimes a little disconcerting for my clients).

My sense of humour and energy levels have returned, I am journaling and spending quiet time with myself again.

And I am less cranky and irritable and more gentle and generous in all of my relationships.

The trick with burnout is to rest enough to regain our selves and our life-force, and then to put in place structures to maintain our relational, physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health.

What are some of your techniques to regain and/or maintain your life force?  Please share them with me by posting a comment…

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4 people commented on this

Thank you for a great post, Judy! I am reminded of when I burnt out. At the time I was still unaware of the many adult child limiting beliefs that were driving me so hard and I expected that 2 weeks of rest should be enough… and ended up being resentful that my body needed more.

I am better now at resting but still need to learn how best to manage my energy. I have discovered that I tend to spend all my energy – no matter how much I have to start with – and often find myself “energy broke” by the end of the day. It is like reckless spending as though there is no tomorrow… I need to learn how to budget my energy and even save some like I would my money. 🙂

I love this analogy of money, reckless spending and budgeting Kerstin! Thank you for it – helpful to see energy flow in cashflow terms!

Hi Judy
I love this post. Thanks to Martha Beck I discovered Dan Howard and use his “Deep Rest” recording as many afternoons as I can. It’s twenty minutes of deep relaxation for tension and pain. It works wonderfully for me covering every part of the body including the mind.
I am also taking things a lot slower even if it means I get behind with my reading, like this post :).

Hi Gwen
Thank you for this! I am going to look up Dan Howard and “Deep Rest” (again) and do the same!

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