Burnout. It is common in the business world today. There are new articles and books published every day, it seems, on the epidemic of stress disorders such as adrenal fatigue. Women are more susceptible, but it affects men, too. Most of us have at least a couple of friends who have experienced stress-related health problems, if we haven’t seen the symptoms in ourselves: anxiety, crippling fatigue, assorted health problems, over-reaction and edginess.
Anyone notice the parallels in our own bodies with the body of the earth herself? Over-heating, over-reacting through extreme weather patterns, tired soil, tired oceans. The patterns in each of us are reflected in our environment and vice versa. We are burning out the earth as we burn out ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and it is my greatest desire to show you how it can be otherwise. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that each one of us, individually as well as collectively has the power to ease this epidemic of burnout. And it starts in our own bodies. When I take care of myself by getting enough rest and joy, ease my own overheated striving, align with Nature herself in my daily rhythms, I am caring for the earth.
I do not mean this metaphorically, but literally. If we are learning nothing else from the new sciences, not to mention ancient wisdom, we are learning about interconnectedness. What we do to ourselves, we do to each other, and we do to our own planet.
I am made up of the same five elements as taught in traditional healing systems as is the planet and every created thing. There is no difference between the water in my body and the water in the oceans. When I nourish the water within, I nourish the water without. When I burn up the resources within, I burn up the resources all over.
It is simple, but not easy, to bring ourselves back into balance. It takes courage to step outside the accepted cultural norms, to begin saying no to being used up and depleted. To make simple lifestyle changes with profound effects on our lives. But the alternative is to continue a losing struggle. I quit my corporate career at age 50, and am still recovering my energy. I didn’t even know I was burned out until after I had worked with many others who were, and finally saw their exhaustion in myself.
I have a number of wonderful practices, such as dinacharya (Sanskrit for ‘following the day’, meaning natural daily routine), self-massage, meditation, deep rest (my term for yoga nidra) that nourish and rejuvenate the body. But the first step is the hardest, I’ve found, for most people: knowing that you, and every other person, are critically important for the health of the planet and therefore, all of us. Caring for yourself is the first step in caring for the world.