What strikes me in the stories of many highly sensitive people is that, when they are just burned out at home, they have no idea of the help they need. And that they also do not know where to look and that they were not always offered appropriate advice or help.
The doctor often prescribes medication, but if you are highly sensitive, it can be much too intense. Plus it doesn’t really solve anything. ‘Medication? You don’t want to feel like a zombie anymore,” a participant in my lecture said recently. “The psychologist offered cognitive therapy, but when I was just burned out at home, I wasn’t ready for it at all,” another said.
Burnout can be accompanied by very different complaints
Contrary to what many psychologists and doctors seem to think, burnout is not just psychological or a matter of mindset . After you have robbed yourself for so long, the burnout has become a physical illness and you can have a multitude of physical complaints. Your recovery should focus on that in the first place.
Klaartje told me: “It started with a small flu. I wanted to get up but my legs were so heavy I could barely walk. I was very tired. At first I didn’t know it was a burnout, I was afraid I could never walk again. Now I see, my body said very loudly STOP! Stop moving and take a step back. There were already small signs, like always a cold sore, but I had never learned to pick them up.”
At Miram it started with panic attacks in the car. “Then I saw that something was not right. That’s not how I knew myself, I was never afraid and I was always very confident when driving. I started having trouble sleeping and feeling rushed. Then the anxiety and panic attacks also started at night, I woke up with a stuffy feeling. After a while I couldn’t do anything anymore, I literally couldn’t go up the stairs. I’ve barely been outside for three months, couldn’t go to the shops. Shuffling through the park, that was just fine.”
Recover on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels
Sleeping, resting, moving slowly, not wanting and doing too much, (temporarily) other food and supplements, body-oriented treatments and the like. After that, you can also involve the emotional level, because you can have a sense of failure and not know what you are worth. Then a process can begin of living through all kinds of feelings and emotions, which you may have hidden away for a long time.
And then you can get to the mental or cognitive level; your thoughts and beliefs. Finally, you can look back and wonder how it could have come to this and what is the meaning of this forced period of stillness, I call that the spiritual level.
Burnout is essentially an invitation to feel and thus be true to yourself, instead of wanting to meet the expectations and demands of others. It’s about learning to live in the now, instead of always focusing on what still needs to be done in the future. Because that just contributed to the process of looting. In a previous article I described the seven steps that lead to recovery from burnout.
Mapping the burnout pattern
The mental or cognitive level is important, because your thoughts and beliefs are -mostly old- conclusions you once drew and that still guide you. Negative assumptions about who you are that make you behave a certain way.
It is an essential part of the cycle of exhaustion, the pattern that led to the burnout. Among the beliefs about yourself is often fear of pain that makes you think ‘I have to…’ and so you can keep going round in the same circle and lose a lot of energy .
Overview of help at the different levels
I have listed which help or guidance can help you to recover, especially if you are highly sensitive. In the diagram below you will find an overview from the physical to the spiritual level with possible forms of therapy or guidance. I hope it helps you, or someone you know, find appropriate help or guidance at every stage in your recovery process.