I love the quote “when you hit a wall lean against it and rest“*. I wish I had heard and understood it sooner.

I have seen a lot of social media posts and articles with Social Workers talking about feeling burnt out, exhausted, fatigue. Positive advice from others about how they can bounce back while remaining working, memes normalising this toxic martyrdom.

Now the advice I am reading is great for example take a lunch break, only work your hours, meditate. But the timing sucks. The truth is when you hit that wall of burnt out, it infects every aspect of your life

  • your relationships
  • your diet
  • your hobbies
  • your work
  • physical, mental & spiritual exhaustion.

No area protected from that zapped energy. Even if you struggle on and force yourself to keep your commitments, it is a chore, the guilt, the shame, the weight of responsibility is huge to keep showing up.

That fear of failure…. it is a losing battle, one your body is telling you to retreat from. If you do not listen your mind and body will eventually force you to retreat.

The self-care rituals without the stopping is like that scene in Pixar’s Inside Out when Joy just keeps piling on the positivity when actually sadness has a role to play too.

Learning the hard way

There are many things I have learned from hitting the wall numerously and not learning my lessons. One of the hardest was I was replaceable. I mean this in the kindest, self-loving sense.  All the tasks that my ego told me “only I could do” and “only I could do well”. The families I was trying to support, kids I was trying to protect, staff I needed to support and manage. All those people that NEEDED ME.

In fact, as I finally hit that wall and had no choice but to stop their needs were still met. Others stepped up. Yes, some tasks were not completed as I would have liked. Other things were better. The thing about struggling on is that nobody gets the best of you.

When you are feeling burnt out you

  • think slower act slower,
  • do not engage fully,
  • get caught up in the wrong details,
  • communicate weakly.
  • You can take on so much you forget who really the responsibility has for creating change in your caseload… spoiler it is not you.

When you are feeling burnt out and life is a struggle you need to stop. Do not go on holiday, take up open water swimming, meditate etc. These are awesome ideas for recovery and maintaining balance.

Try and bring them in when you already have nothing left to give? they become more tasks on an already overwhelmed soul. Even with the most positive of intent. Imagine staring at the most wonderful view on your dream holiday and feeling nothing. Just being there felt an effort, enjoying it is asking for more than you can give… urgh!

When you are feeling exhausted you need to STOP. Give your body and mind time to recover. Sleep, clear the noise swirling in your mind, cry or just stare into space. Like your computer sometimes you need to turn off and on again.

It does not have to be long it could be a day lay on the sofa binging  anything where you do not have to think. It could be sleeping for 48 hours or even a week, a month what ever it takes for you to not have to tell yourself to breathe in and out, or needing to concentrate like you are on Mastermind just ordering a coffee.


Then rebuild with balance, joy & boundaries

When you have stopped and accepted that you are in fact invincible, that is when you can start taking steps, so it will not happen again.

That is when the great advise about meditations, getting outdoors, eating well. Generally treating yourself with love, is needed.

Learn to treat yourself better, show yourself more compassion. Learn to enjoy being you again and love your life. Restore balance.

Self care is not all nice and fluffy

If you really want to go deeper and love yourself more so you do not hit that wall over and over again. Understanding and addressing why you allowed others needs to take priority over your own if key. Why your need to be needed, be the hero, make a difference (insert your own unconscious barrier to self care here).

We can and should blame the system for poor conditions, expecting more than it financially values you for and less respect than our professional peers standards. But there is also a part of you that normalised and accepted this relationship. Allowed yourself to become last in your own list of priorities.

The repair and rebuild post burn out takes energy which is why stopping is essential. What I found was it is hard and it hurts. If you really want to come back stronger you need to do a lot of work on yourself. You need to admit what you did not realise had become your self believe. Make every effort to unlearn what holds you back from seeing yourself as important. To evidence your own capacity to change based on the evidence.

The weekly yoga class that you love and maintains your sanity consistently being a priority over anything and anyone else is hard if you have not addressed your why. So it is unlikely to be maintained. You will be back with your new friend wall in no time, if you have not addressed those unconscious believes.

It is 100% worth it but as you can probably guess you need the energy to do it another valid reason why STOPING has to be part of your plan.

Another thing I learned the hard way is that had I listened to my body, acted sooner giving myself permission to rest sooner. I would have recovered so much quicker. My fear of stopping then, became my fear of going back.

When returning I had repair work to do in some of these relationships colleagues and clients. That was ok as I then had the energy to manage these situations, knew myself better and had stronger boundaries. Added bonus I had places to be that also brought me joy.


To create that long term change you need to, understand your why. and then put in the appropriate boundaries, take those breaks, say no more and allow more balance and joy away from the trauma and unhealthy work environment for a job you love and want to do.

Most importantly you need to listen to yourself when everything is telling you to stop and rest do not wait for permission or to just finish that one task… STOP.

If this is something that you need support with why not message me.


*Pictured quote image source