Are you burnt out or just overwhelmed?

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Why don’t you make it to your yoga mat? I know the answer before you say it: you’re busy. You’re tired. You have a (job, child, aging parent, house to manage). Oddly, it seems like we truly believe no one can understand our level of busy. I hear it a lot, “When you have a kid, you’ll get it.” Or, “Well, my job is really hard.” With rare exception, everyone understands! We may not know the exact circumstances that led to your overwhelm. But, trust me, overwhelm is a natural part of being an adult.
This partly comes from our assumption that being busy is inherently good, or, in some cases, necessary. We think the only way to accomplish anything is to fill our plate. This assumption takes overwhelm one step further and into the territory of burnout.
Overwhelm can be extremely useful. When we are learning, growing, and adapting, we will be overwhelmed. I’m constantly overwhelmed these days. This has been the most dynamic year of my life, and that dynamism comes with moments where I throw my hands to the sky in exhaustion. Like you, I’m busy. I work constantly building our studio, I manage our home, I take care of the three best animals known to man, and I have an alien the size of a banana growing in my stomach who needs constant doctor’s appointments … and eventually will need a place to sleep. (Crib built: check).
And it’s because I’m so busy and so overwhelmed that I’m continually grateful for all I’ve learned through mindfulness practice. Because of my mindfulness practice, I sit on the beach several times a week and stare at the ocean. Because of my mindfulness practice, I swing in my hammock with Flapjack at my feet every single day. Because of my mindfulness practice, I just stopped writing this email to answer my sister’s phone call. Overwhelm is having a lot going on. Burn out is when we think all those things we have going on are more important than being present.
No matter how busy you are, no matter your level of overwhelm, if you can make time to be present you will never burn out. Give yourself over to your day. Fill your plate often. But, never forget to fill your heart just as often.