Burnout sought to explain woman-specific stress: where it comes from and how to deal with it. The authors’ goal was to “show you the science that proves you’re normal and you’re not alone.” Don’t let that it is a ‘feminist self-help’ book stop you from reading it. If I had underlined in the book, most pages would been marked. Rather, I transcribe meaningful quotes from books that I read into a notebook; Burnout now has a large section in my notebook dedicated to it. Here’s why.
The authors indeed showed the science, which I specifically appreciated about this book. It is not fluffy in content; 40 pages of small print are dedicated to footnotes and references. They are clearly very intelligent authors active in their fields. As dense as the content is, it was delightful to read. They were very intentional with how they wrote the book, knowing that people respond most to story, and brains absorb information in chunks. So they broke up their information with story and anecdotes that proved each scientific point.
They explained that women suffer from Human Giver Syndrome, that is, the relentless need to give to all humanity around them every waking (and sleeping) hour. Human Givers serve the Human Beings, almost always at the expense of their own health. Rest and care for self induce guilt, because the ingrown belief is that tending to our own needs is selfish. This relentless giving of self leaves women empty. To push back against Human Giver Syndrome, one must recognize their own worth by connecting to their Something Greater, and re-formating their life for rest. One must allow themselves to Be, rather than Do, if they are to be restored from Burnout.
Burnout’s definition of Something Greater is your source of meaning, such as “a God you believe in or a dream you have for the future.” But I believe humanity’s Something Greater is not mutually exclusive. When connected to God you become aware of your value as well as your specific purpose, which produces both the confidence and efficacy to achieve the dream that your purpose points to.
Much of the science pointed to connection and rest as a way out from underneath burnout. To recover it will take time. It will take kindness toward yourself, a realignment of personal goals and expectations. It will take deep-heart connection with at least one other person. It will take holding onto meaning and working toward something larger than yourself. And it will take rest.
This section of the book surprised but did not astonish me. as biological beings, we actually need 42 percent of our time, daily, dedicated to rest – not just sleeping, but connecting with others and moving your body. Not doing or thinking about your day job. This is not to be lazy or to bask in our first-world comfort. This is simply the time required for our minds to heal and integrate information, and for our bodies to be at optimum health. This percent is non-negotiable; if you don’t take it, it will take you. For me, lesson learned.
What this rest time does is allow us to complete our stress cycles. Like dozens of open windows on a computer, having unresolved stress slows down our functioning. Each point of stress begins a cycle, which we can bring to completion or not. When one reaches burnout, they have many, many of these unresolved cycles using physical and emotional energy.
What Could Be Added
What this book was missing, for me, was two options for further information through contrast. I closed the book wondering how men respond to stress and if the same methods that were pointed to in Burnout would be effective for them. I also wondered if this information would be reflective of LGBTQ+ women, or those identifying as women; the authors relied on studies already done, and those were exclusively done on heterosexual women.
This book is science, rather than religion. But it was interesting how parallel the science comes to Christian Truth. An interesting book would be how science and Jesus intersect in achieving and maintaining a restful mental health.
I intellectually fought against the Human Giver wording all the way through the book, especially for their explanation of the cause of it. They blame The Patriarchy. The centuries-long behavior patterns where men are in charge, and women’s role is to serve at all hours, look their best self, and need nothing.
My faith-based worldview doesn’t blame The Patriarchy for this syndrome. Rather, it is the un-gendered problem of seeking to prove one’s worth through production rather than resting in knowing you are valued. I do not believe that you can successfully seek to fix and perfect one’s Self by Self alone. One needs to be connected to Something Greater to be able to rest in their worth.
My Final Thoughts
After reading this book I will be more mindful of completing as many stress cycles as I am aware of, as well as ensuring I get the amount and type of rest I need to reset.
Because really, as the author’s wrap-up point was, I cannot be helpful unless I’m at a point of health. And my individual health positively impacts the health of my part of the world.