Burn-out doesn’t happen overnight! Even if a lot of people are under the impression that one day, they are still ok, and the very next day, they feel miserable and they are suffering, , this is a misconception. It is actually the result of a long period of unhealthy habits that lead to disaster, little by little, day by day.
And what happens to you when burn-out kicks in? You go back to basics. You reconnect to your inner self. You tap into your own resources, often finding hidden treasures of resilience. You go back to doing what generations and generations have done before us, but what our current accelerated, digital society built on commercial surfaces seems to have forgotten.
The Corona-virus didn’t hit us overnight: it travelled awfully fast from Asia to Europe. But let’s take a closer look. Could it be that we are living in an unwell, burnt-out society? From my perspective as a Chief Happiness, we most certainly do. Here is why.
Have a look around. You don’t even have to be an engineer to see that we’re not handling our planet with the respect it deserves. The saying “there’s plenty of fish in the sea” should be adapted to “there’s plenty of plastic in the sea”. Only a couple of weeks ago, over a million animals got killed because of the virtually unbeatable Australian wildfires. And in China, people have been wearing face masks for quite some time already. This has nothing to do with Corona, but has everything to do with the polluted air. And oh irony! One of the remarkable outcomes of the attempt to stop Covid-19 (stay at home, folks!): the air has never been healthier in China…
Let’s go back in time and see what the good old behaviorists of the former century would have had to say about this Corona pandemic. Back in those days, people spent time with … people. Companies closed for an hour or two at lunch time, so that coworkers could enjoy their meal together. Children climbed up the trees, got into a play fight and said hello to friends and acquaintances they met in the street.
Nowadays, most people are driving to work and while driving, they think it’s important to scroll through their messages. Colleagues are eating a quick sandwich at their desk because time is money. And if we go out for drinks or dinner, there’s at least one moment where everybody around the table is staring at their phones… If you want to know how big my network is, just look at how many Facebook friends I have! Is that being social? Duh! The youngest generations don’t even know how to engage in social talk anymore!
Covid-19 is now locking us up inside our homes and all of a sudden we don’t seem to find social media to be very social anymore. Suddenly, we start craving hugs and we feel awkward not being allowed to shake hands anymore. Even the youngest generations are confronted with a kind of skin hunger they never experienced before. A lot of people are throwing their mobile devices away because the only thing they are throwing at us right now is Corona, Corona, Corona. And immediately, the fear of bore-out is kicking in. So what do we do? We start visiting our grandparents that are locked up in their caring homes. Waving at them from behind the window has never felt so heartwarming. We start sharing toilet paper with the poor shoppers who didn’t find any in the hoarded shops. And we start calling our loved ones and ask them how they are, what they’re feeling, how they are getting through the day. Back to basics…
Our bodies are tired. Our planet is worn out. Nature is inviting us to slow down, to reconnect and of course we are doing the exact opposite. We are pushing the gas even harder, running to the supermarket like crazy to grab the last package of toilet paper. We are going to lockdown parties in the pub next door that has to close for the next couple of weeks. We are crossing each and every border because in Holland the shops and the bars are still open when they were already closed in Belgium. When reality surpasses fiction…
We are doing the complete opposite, while we are actually urged to take a break. Give yourself a break. Stay at home, wait for the bad weather to pass, do the things you never get to when you’re speeding like crazy or just take the time to simply be. For the first time in modern times, nature is inviting almost everyone around the globe to sit down and relax. But for a lot of people, fear kicks in. Just like the little hamsters that are running like crazy in their little wheel (or through the supermarket). It just keeps on running because it doesn’t know what else to do. If it stops, it will start thinking. And thinking might lead to overthinking. And that will definitely lead to more worries. Who likes to worry? No one, right? So let’s just speed up.
No, thanks! I prefer to slow down. So let’s slow down and look at the situation as if it were an opportunity instead of a threat. It’s the exact same approach that I recommend when I’m a coaching a client who is suffering from burn-out. Just stop and take a good look around. Only this way, positivity can kick in. Only this way, you can discover a new approach. New ideas. Covid-19 might be resetting our world. And maybe, just maybe, we will be looking back in a couple of years, thinking it also was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. Much like how burn-out survivors often say, when they find themselves living a more grateful life, being reconnected to both their inner selves and their significant others and slowing down to enjoy each and every minute.