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Are You in the Exhaustion Funnel?

How to live a more balanced, sustainable and fulfilling life—even when things get busy, stressful or overwhelming.

I love to dance. In fact, I love to do a lot of things. I love to be cozy and content at home with a book. I love yoga. I also really love getting out into nature, you know, going to the beach, hanging out in the forest or by a river.

These are things I naturally love doing. So I make time for them as much as I can. They nourish me. They feed my soul. Think about the things you love doing.

Maybe it's cooking or reading that you enjoy, or maybe taking walks on the beach or painting or gardening. Whatever it is that you love to do, hopefully you're able to make enough time for it in your life to enjoy these things. The things that make you happy, the things that feed your soul and recharge the batteries. But, life. Isn't just about the things that we love to do.

There are certain things we have to do. You know, we have families to take care of, jobs to do, errands to run. Some of these things can be really nourishing and rewarding, but some of them, we just have to get them done. And it's a bonus if we get some joy from the experience. In a balanced life, we're able to keep all the plates spinning, so to speak.

So we can have some time with our friends and family, we have time for our hobbies and interests, all while holding down a job and keeping some semblance of order at home. If our lives are in balance, there should always be time for the things that nourish us. But life, hmm, isn't always so balanced, is it? Sometimes work takes over or something unexpected happens, like a family illness, or maybe we allowed our personal to-do list to get a little out of control and take over our lives so we can feel like we're under constant pressure. I'm sure you can think of a time in your life when that work-life balance started to unravel a bit, or you started to find every day a little more tiring than the one before. If that sounds familiar, you may have been feeling what we call burnout.

Something, I think, we all feel from time to time in this busy frantic world that we live in. But burnout you have to be careful of, because it can really creep up on you if you let it, and it can make it harder and harder for you to bounce back into a more balanced and positive way of living. That's when you risk falling into what Swedish psychiatrist, Marie Asberg calls the exhaustion funnel. So if you imagine a funnel, like the one you have in your kitchen at home, the top of the funnel is nice and wide and this represents where your life is at its most balanced. At the top of the funnel, you're able to make time for the things you love doing alongside all the things you just have to do.

So you have the fun things you could say and the less fun things. So going dancing is balanced out with doing all the housework and your fullwork day or care-taking day is balanced out by a walk in the countryside. Now, it's not a strict weighing scale, but basically here at the top of the funnel, you're able to make enough time to do the things that nourish you and fill you up along with those things that might deplete you. So you have balance in your life and it feels at the top of the funnel, sustainable. You could live like that for a long time and keep the batteries charged.

Now, if you start to sink a little bit further down into that funnel, life starts to get a bit narrower. And this is where it can start to resemble the exhaustion funnel. So perhaps you had a big deadline at work and you need to work late a couple of days to finish the job. And that's not so bad in and of itself. But quite often, it's the start of a descent into burnout.

So let's say for a few nights you skip yoga, skip time with friends or walks in nature and you start to work through your lunch break rather than taking proper breaks. You know, if this sounds familiar, it's not just you. We've all been there. But how do you feel afterwards, after a couple of days? As the batteries and not being recharged? I know for myself, first thing that happens is I start to feel a little bit more fatigued and I start to get a bit more irritable. I also start to lose focus at work and I start to lose energy.

And if I'm not getting enough exercise and I'm missing social contact, my mood really starts to drop and everything starts to seem harder. You know, life starts to lose its sparkle. Can you relate? That is how burnout starts. First, we decide to give up a few of the, what we might call, optional things in life, just for a while so we can meet all the expectations on us. But then we start to feel lower and lower physically and emotionally because we're giving up the most nourishing things in our lives, the things that really sustain us and give us joy.

Your journey down the exhaustion funnel from here gets deeper and deeper as you decide to give up more and more of the things that energize you, lift you up, and make you happy. If you continue doing this, you end up doing only the things that drain you and none of the things that nourish you. And if you keep doing that, you end up at the smallest and narrowest part at the bottom of the funnel where you've gradually let go of all the things that give you joy and nourishment. Now you're getting really close to burnout if you stay here. And what it's like here at the bottom of the funnel is usually you're trying to do as much as you can, there's lots of doing, doing, doing, but you're tired and drained of energy, low mood, and often feeling anxious about some of the choices that you've decided to make.

So you might be feeling guilty about missing a school event with the kids, maybe feeling socially disconnected because you've stopped having time with friends and fun with people you love. And the more you strip out all the fulfilling and sustaining aspects of your life, the more you feel burnt out, unhappy, depleted, and lost. Eventually if you stay here long enough, you hit total exhaustion and get to a point where you actually cannot function well anymore. This is burnout. Now the trouble with this is it's not easy.

Once you hit burnout and you're completely depleted, it's quite hard to bounce back. You'll already be tired and unhappy, but also often living a life that's full to the brim and has a bit of pressure and expectations from other people. Sometimes when people hit this point, they start turning to other bad habits to help them cope. Drugs, drinking, sleeping tablets, to name a few, bad eating habits. Now, if you're hearing this and you think you might've fallen into the exhaustion funnel, do try to show yourself some self-compassion to help you begin to find your way out.

Even if you're just looking after yourself a little bit more, just looking for those signs of tiredness or stress changes in mood. This might give you the clues you need that something's not right and then you can start to respond. So after all, if your best friend was showing the symptoms, you'd look out for them. Right? So why not apply the same kind attitude towards yourself? And something really important to us always remember is that it, it really is vital to take care of yourself when life is getting busy. This is how we stop falling into the exhaustion funnel and how we regain and stabilize that sense of balance in our lives.

And here's the really good news. All of those enjoyable and energizing things that you love doing are not just optional extras. They're not just luxuries. These are the things that allow you to function at your best when life is staying in balance. These are the activities that increase your psychological wellbeing, help you face the challenges of day-to-day life.

These are the things that sustain you, bring you joy. So it's important and vital even to try to find time for them. Try to keep an eye out for identifying if you start to feel more exhausted. And notice why you might be feeling tired and stressed out. So what has changed in your life? What are the things that maybe are new or have changed in their timeframe? Maybe there's more draining things in your life.

Maybe there's a busy phase at work and it started with one overdue report and now it's morphed into you regularly skipping your yoga or exercise or bailing on nights out with friends. Maybe your movie nights been postponed a few times. So just as an act of kindness towards yourself now, always tuning in to: have you fallen into any routines that are draining you? Are you doing enough things that are nourishing you? When you identify the things that are draining you in life, you can start to work with them more skillfully. Perhaps eliminating some of them or trying to do what you can to regain balance. You might be able to implement the simplest of self-care boundaries and rituals.

Things as simple as switching your phone off at eight o'clock at night, so you won't be tempted to reply to any more of those work emails or look at social media. Often the most draining things could be traded for more sustaining and nourishing ones. So just having a, a think about that. Is there parts of your life where you could bring in more of those sustaining things, more of those nourishing things to keep lifting you up and lighting you up, keeping that balance again? So, and soon when you do this, the positive energy from bringing more sustaining activities into your life will help you feel more balanced, more focused, and more content. With self-awareness and self-compassion like this, you can discover so many things about yourself that you may not have noticed before.

You can keep noticing what's nourishing you and what draining you, what lights you up and what's depleting you. And this deeper awareness of yourself will help you stay clear of falling into the funnel's black hole. Through these kinds of more mindful living, we can make wiser choices, keep things in balance, and then we can live more happy, healthy, and nourishing lives. And life is meant to be nourishing. It's meant to be enjoyable.

After all, life isn't just a to-do list. It's meant to be enjoyed.

Talk

4.7

Are You in the Exhaustion Funnel?

How to live a more balanced, sustainable and fulfilling life—even when things get busy, stressful or overwhelming.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

I love to dance. In fact, I love to do a lot of things. I love to be cozy and content at home with a book. I love yoga. I also really love getting out into nature, you know, going to the beach, hanging out in the forest or by a river.

These are things I naturally love doing. So I make time for them as much as I can. They nourish me. They feed my soul. Think about the things you love doing.

Maybe it's cooking or reading that you enjoy, or maybe taking walks on the beach or painting or gardening. Whatever it is that you love to do, hopefully you're able to make enough time for it in your life to enjoy these things. The things that make you happy, the things that feed your soul and recharge the batteries. But, life. Isn't just about the things that we love to do.

There are certain things we have to do. You know, we have families to take care of, jobs to do, errands to run. Some of these things can be really nourishing and rewarding, but some of them, we just have to get them done. And it's a bonus if we get some joy from the experience. In a balanced life, we're able to keep all the plates spinning, so to speak.

So we can have some time with our friends and family, we have time for our hobbies and interests, all while holding down a job and keeping some semblance of order at home. If our lives are in balance, there should always be time for the things that nourish us. But life, hmm, isn't always so balanced, is it? Sometimes work takes over or something unexpected happens, like a family illness, or maybe we allowed our personal to-do list to get a little out of control and take over our lives so we can feel like we're under constant pressure. I'm sure you can think of a time in your life when that work-life balance started to unravel a bit, or you started to find every day a little more tiring than the one before. If that sounds familiar, you may have been feeling what we call burnout.

Something, I think, we all feel from time to time in this busy frantic world that we live in. But burnout you have to be careful of, because it can really creep up on you if you let it, and it can make it harder and harder for you to bounce back into a more balanced and positive way of living. That's when you risk falling into what Swedish psychiatrist, Marie Asberg calls the exhaustion funnel. So if you imagine a funnel, like the one you have in your kitchen at home, the top of the funnel is nice and wide and this represents where your life is at its most balanced. At the top of the funnel, you're able to make time for the things you love doing alongside all the things you just have to do.

So you have the fun things you could say and the less fun things. So going dancing is balanced out with doing all the housework and your fullwork day or care-taking day is balanced out by a walk in the countryside. Now, it's not a strict weighing scale, but basically here at the top of the funnel, you're able to make enough time to do the things that nourish you and fill you up along with those things that might deplete you. So you have balance in your life and it feels at the top of the funnel, sustainable. You could live like that for a long time and keep the batteries charged.

Now, if you start to sink a little bit further down into that funnel, life starts to get a bit narrower. And this is where it can start to resemble the exhaustion funnel. So perhaps you had a big deadline at work and you need to work late a couple of days to finish the job. And that's not so bad in and of itself. But quite often, it's the start of a descent into burnout.

So let's say for a few nights you skip yoga, skip time with friends or walks in nature and you start to work through your lunch break rather than taking proper breaks. You know, if this sounds familiar, it's not just you. We've all been there. But how do you feel afterwards, after a couple of days? As the batteries and not being recharged? I know for myself, first thing that happens is I start to feel a little bit more fatigued and I start to get a bit more irritable. I also start to lose focus at work and I start to lose energy.

And if I'm not getting enough exercise and I'm missing social contact, my mood really starts to drop and everything starts to seem harder. You know, life starts to lose its sparkle. Can you relate? That is how burnout starts. First, we decide to give up a few of the, what we might call, optional things in life, just for a while so we can meet all the expectations on us. But then we start to feel lower and lower physically and emotionally because we're giving up the most nourishing things in our lives, the things that really sustain us and give us joy.

Your journey down the exhaustion funnel from here gets deeper and deeper as you decide to give up more and more of the things that energize you, lift you up, and make you happy. If you continue doing this, you end up doing only the things that drain you and none of the things that nourish you. And if you keep doing that, you end up at the smallest and narrowest part at the bottom of the funnel where you've gradually let go of all the things that give you joy and nourishment. Now you're getting really close to burnout if you stay here. And what it's like here at the bottom of the funnel is usually you're trying to do as much as you can, there's lots of doing, doing, doing, but you're tired and drained of energy, low mood, and often feeling anxious about some of the choices that you've decided to make.

So you might be feeling guilty about missing a school event with the kids, maybe feeling socially disconnected because you've stopped having time with friends and fun with people you love. And the more you strip out all the fulfilling and sustaining aspects of your life, the more you feel burnt out, unhappy, depleted, and lost. Eventually if you stay here long enough, you hit total exhaustion and get to a point where you actually cannot function well anymore. This is burnout. Now the trouble with this is it's not easy.

Once you hit burnout and you're completely depleted, it's quite hard to bounce back. You'll already be tired and unhappy, but also often living a life that's full to the brim and has a bit of pressure and expectations from other people. Sometimes when people hit this point, they start turning to other bad habits to help them cope. Drugs, drinking, sleeping tablets, to name a few, bad eating habits. Now, if you're hearing this and you think you might've fallen into the exhaustion funnel, do try to show yourself some self-compassion to help you begin to find your way out.

Even if you're just looking after yourself a little bit more, just looking for those signs of tiredness or stress changes in mood. This might give you the clues you need that something's not right and then you can start to respond. So after all, if your best friend was showing the symptoms, you'd look out for them. Right? So why not apply the same kind attitude towards yourself? And something really important to us always remember is that it, it really is vital to take care of yourself when life is getting busy. This is how we stop falling into the exhaustion funnel and how we regain and stabilize that sense of balance in our lives.

And here's the really good news. All of those enjoyable and energizing things that you love doing are not just optional extras. They're not just luxuries. These are the things that allow you to function at your best when life is staying in balance. These are the activities that increase your psychological wellbeing, help you face the challenges of day-to-day life.

These are the things that sustain you, bring you joy. So it's important and vital even to try to find time for them. Try to keep an eye out for identifying if you start to feel more exhausted. And notice why you might be feeling tired and stressed out. So what has changed in your life? What are the things that maybe are new or have changed in their timeframe? Maybe there's more draining things in your life.

Maybe there's a busy phase at work and it started with one overdue report and now it's morphed into you regularly skipping your yoga or exercise or bailing on nights out with friends. Maybe your movie nights been postponed a few times. So just as an act of kindness towards yourself now, always tuning in to: have you fallen into any routines that are draining you? Are you doing enough things that are nourishing you? When you identify the things that are draining you in life, you can start to work with them more skillfully. Perhaps eliminating some of them or trying to do what you can to regain balance. You might be able to implement the simplest of self-care boundaries and rituals.

Things as simple as switching your phone off at eight o'clock at night, so you won't be tempted to reply to any more of those work emails or look at social media. Often the most draining things could be traded for more sustaining and nourishing ones. So just having a, a think about that. Is there parts of your life where you could bring in more of those sustaining things, more of those nourishing things to keep lifting you up and lighting you up, keeping that balance again? So, and soon when you do this, the positive energy from bringing more sustaining activities into your life will help you feel more balanced, more focused, and more content. With self-awareness and self-compassion like this, you can discover so many things about yourself that you may not have noticed before.

You can keep noticing what's nourishing you and what draining you, what lights you up and what's depleting you. And this deeper awareness of yourself will help you stay clear of falling into the funnel's black hole. Through these kinds of more mindful living, we can make wiser choices, keep things in balance, and then we can live more happy, healthy, and nourishing lives. And life is meant to be nourishing. It's meant to be enjoyable.

After all, life isn't just a to-do list. It's meant to be enjoyed.

Talk

4.7

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