Reviewing: Healing Burnout by Charlene Rymsha
I’m a huge fan of guided journals, but I have to admit that I’ve found those in the healing / spiritual space to be a little lacking lately. So I was actually pleasantly surprised by this journal, designed to help you identify, prevent, and heal from burnout in your life. It wasn’t exactly what I expected—you’re not going to be learning to transition fully out of a situation that caused you to burn out, such as a job that’s not working—but it does offer support in a number of modes that will increase your resilience and help you soften your approach to life so further burnout is less likely. The techniques are solid, and while I would recommend maybe pairing this journal with a book that might give you a more systemic look at burnout, it’s a great practical support.
Fortunately, I’m on the other side of my big burnout healing experience, so I read through this book without doing all the exercises, from the lens of whether I might recommend this to one of my change doula clients who needs more support for self-reflection. What I didn’t expect was how many exercises are included beyond simple journaling prompts, and I think this is a big plus for folks who don’t want to read a cover-to-cover book but also need a little more of a push in the right direction, or might want to employ different approaches to healing—not only journaling but also somatics, more structured exercises, and practices to employ in day-to-day life.
Many of the strategies author Charlene Rymsha offers are about resilience. You’ll be encouraged for example to identify your stress triggers and ways to counter them, develop a gratitude practice, learn how to activate the vagus nerve to access calm in the moment, and evaluate your current “head to body” ratio. I love how many exercises are included to just get into your body, with lots of options to find one that works. And if you’re a brainier person, you can engage with more conceptual challenges like finding your burnout metaphor. There are also more traditional journal prompts for deeper reflection scattered throughout, e.g. “who am I without stress?”
I really like the way Rymsha weaves in exercises that will be extremely practical to apply in the day-to-day, as these are the kinds of interventions I’ve found most helpful both as an individual and as a practitioner. While it’s useful to have a journal as a dedicated place to reflect, you also really do need practical ways to adjust your life when you’re experiencing burnout and ways to respond to stressful situations in the moment.
Rymsha teaches techniques that can be really handy such as monotasking (not my favorite as an ADHD person, admittedly, but it works for a lot of people!), identifying your “why,” and auditing your media consumption. And at the end of the journal you get a continued wellness plan template, so you can continue to apply what works beyond your immediate period of burnout healing.
While I would always recommend working with a therapist, coach, or a change doula like me if that’s accessible to you, I’m also highly aware that such supports aren’t available to everyone! This is one of the better self-guided books I’ve seen if you’re interested in one of these services and can’t afford it—the techniques are very akin to what you might expect a coach to recommend, with a focus on being able to identify what’s coming up for you. Identifying your own “mind traps” is something my coach does with me regularly, for example. You’ll get guidance on emotionally regulating, coming back to your body, discerning thoughts that are and aren’t helping you, identifying your “shoulds,” and celebrating successes, all of which are things I’ve supported clients with and been supported in by other service providers.
As I noted at the beginning of the review, this isn’t so much a guide out of the situation that’s causing burnout, and if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll probably want to at least supplement with another book. Rymsha does have a book called Burn Bright that I haven’t read, and I’d imagine it provides more context for mindsets she’s only briefly able to address here, such as the problem of busyness. I do think it’s important to have a lens on the systemic context, which I focus on in my own work, but this is a great tool to have in your burnout healing toolkit!
ARC provided through Edelweiss. Purchases through the above button support me as well as local independent bookstores!