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Battling Burn Out

All I want to do right now is scroll through Facebook, watch the rest of The Tudors and jam as many chocolate chip cookies and pretzels into my face as I can.  

It sounds innocuous, I mean who doesn't want to do that sometimes?  

The problem is, lately that's all I want to do, washed down with half a bottle of wine.  I don't want to be present, I don't want to be productive, I don't want a spiritual life, I don't want anything but to zone out.  

That's fine for a a couple days, maybe even a week.  More than that it becomes a serious problem.  And that's what I'm sitting with.  Depression/anxiety are factors, of course.  I'm under the care of professionals for those issues.  I know what those things feel like and they're there in the background, tugging at me.  

But what I'm really struggling with is burn out.  

The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard, PsyD describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.”

“A lot of burnout really has to do with experiencing chronic stress,” says Dr. Ballard, who is the head of the APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program. “In those situations, the demands being placed on you exceed the resources you have available to deal with the stressors.”

Left unchecked, burnout can wreak havoc on your health, happiness, relationships and job performance. - 10 Signs You're Burning Out, Forbes

Chronic stress is a problem that many of us are dealing with.  For me, it's from working over fifty hours a week (and usually six days a week), working on building my business, working on paying off the last bits of my personal debt, maintaining my fibromyalgia, trying to find time to a social life, family time, and maintaining a household.  Usually small things make me feel better; a new purse, a favorite television show, books on cd, a new publication but none of my coping mechanisms have been working.

I haven't heard the voices of my gods and spirits in a long time.  It's really hard to talk about that, after all if I have blogs about witchcraft and spirituality, shouldn't I have an amazing spiritual practice at all times?  And if I don't, shouldn't I be silent about it so that you still respect my work?

Being silent about anything has never been something I excel in, however.  I haven't done japa, I haven't had rituals, I haven't gone to rituals, I haven't done puja, I haven't cleansed my home, I haven't even made light and water offerings.  Sometimes, I make offerings to my ancestors, not in the murky long line of humanity sense but my people who have passed in my life time. I pile a small plate full of chicken milanese, arugula salad, antipasto and italian pastries.  I place it silently on their altar.  "Do you ever talk to your uncle or ever hear him?  Do you ask him for things?" asks my husband.  I mutely shake my head.  It's still too painful to talk to any of them directly.  We just engraved my uncle's name on the tomb that holds him and my grandparents last week.  

So I curl up inside like a little pill bug and cocoon myself in mental blankets so I can't hear anything.  Not from my gods, not from my beloved dead, not from my dreams, nothing.  It takes a long time for me to figure out I've done this because I'm a perpetual motion machine; working, working, working.  But I stopped writing.  At first I was glad to have a break but as a writer and someone who has kept blogs since 2003 and was a voracious letter writer before then, when I stop spilling out my internal world onto a page it means something is not right inside me.  

I don't have an easy solution for you for burn out.  I can't tell you to light x colored candle and burn y herbs on z day and you'll be healed from it.  But I can give you a few solutions.

Heal Thyself


1. Ground yourself.  Often.  Many times throughout the day.  Use whatever methods work for you personally.  Bare feet in the earth.  Eating a bit of salt.  Jacki Smith's little chant, My nose is in my nose, my toes are in my toes, my spine is in my spine and my spirit is in my body.


2. Cleanse yourself.  However you do it.  Sage.  A dip in the ocean.  A bath.  A shower with a salt scrub, imagining all the negative energy you've been building up going down the drain.

3. Self care.  Make sure you're drinking enough water and then drink a glass more.  Are you eating a lot of crap?  Eat whatever makes your body (not your emotions) feel good.  For me it's lots of fruit and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.  Get enough sleep.

4. Do what makes you feel most in touch with yourself.  For me, that's writing.  I've started writing again but it's a struggle.  I don't want to.  I want to unplug and zone out.  But I feel better every time I make myself.  I feel better doing it now.  I'm working up to taking my spinning wheel back out and creating for the love for creating and not just for production.  I also need to get my living space back in order because I feel cluttered when my living space is cluttered.  I also find I feel better about myself/more when I have a nice manicure and a pedicure. 

5. When you start to feel steady on your feet again, slowly unravel some of the blankets and allow yourself to slowly and gently open yourself back up to your spiritual practice.

I'm still working on these steps.  It's really hard to not just tune out.  But slowly, I'm coming back to myself.  

I am a work in progress/ dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding/ offering me intricate patterns of questions/ rhythms that never come clean/ and strengths that you still haven't seen. . . . - Ani Difranco, "The Slant"

 

 

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Deborah Castellano is featured in the 2015 Llewellyn Herbal Almanac. She is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches&Pagans magazine.

Deborah's book, The Arte of Glamour is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid and The Crow (www.mermaidandcrow.com) specializes in Hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers, euphorically scented mason jar beeswax candles, tempting small batch ritual oils, Dream Ambassadors (tiny sheep to help you sleep!), lofty unique nuno felted scarves, airy hand painted silk chiffon scarves and more.

Her Craft shop, The Glamoury Apothecary (www.etsy.com/shop/glamouryapothecary) specializes in handcrafted Occult and Magical items such as gods and goddesses vigil candles, loose incense and hand rolled chime candles.

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