Burnout.

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I woke up this morning in Chicago and remembered that I am an hour behind my normal schedule here, and kind of freaked out.  I was busy yesterday and last night and didn’t have time to prep a post for today.  And I woke up completely exhausted to boot.  Between finishing my book, other random shoots and projects, keeping up with client work, writing this blog, taking care of the dogs, Christmas preparation craziness and attempting to maintain friendships and a marriage I have to admit, I am burned out.  In Blogland I feel like everyone seems to do everything perfectly in perfect outfits with hair and makeup done to Pinterest perfection, but my truth right now is this: I feel and look like hell because I’m so freaking tired.

Really, really tired.

I love being busy and I thrive under the high pressure environment I create for myself, but I’ve gotten to the point where I have lost the understanding and ability to truly relax and shut off. And that isn’t good.  I cannot remember for the life of me a day in the past 7 years where I just laid on the couch and read a book.  Even when I try to sit down and watch a movie with my husband, I find myself get anxious if I don’t check my email and typically end up turning on my computer to start working again.  I feel like “down time” is “wasted time” and I know that’s not healthy.   The constant feelings of guilt are something I live with daily. I ask myself to do more, more, more and when I don’t get an absurd amount of things done I berate myself for not “living up to my potential”. I really need to tell that little perfectionist voice in my head to give it a f*cking REST.

On top of the work pressure I put on myself, I pile on the stress and guilt of not being able to get pregnant as of yet. And I know that these things are probably linked- stress is no good for babymaking. All aspects of it!  And I approach it like I do my work with tons of research and action plans and to do lists.  I’m doing all the right things technically, good doctors, acupuncture, eating right but the key for me, I think, is going to me learning to give myself a break. About everything- about work, pregnancy, wanting to be the perfect, wife, daughter, sister,  friend, blogger, writer, dog mom, etc. etc…. I can’t help but see this one thing I cannot manage to do as a failure, and I DO NOT deal well with failure. No, sir.

So this comes a bit early, but I am determined to take a massive chill pill this year as my resolution.  To give myself more breaks and attempt to alleviate the guilt and pressure just a little. To make time to go to yoga or take an afternoon to just drive somewhere new or just take a walk without my damn phone. Or maybe even sit on the couch and DO NOTHING, which is such a foreign concept to me. This will not make me lazy, but rather a more productive creative force.  The brain needs a rest in order to be at it’s best, and so does the body. Instead of operating in constant panic mode, I want to do things slower, more deliberately and with more depth.  This doesn’t mean I’ll do less, in fact I already have tons of ideas for more projects, books and such for this year, but I want to enjoy the process more. I need to remember that not everything has to be done RIGHT! THIS! MINUTE! I need to say no more but also yes more, and be able to discern what’s truly important from what’s something I’m just doing so I can say I’m doing MORE.

I need to breathe.  I need to reboot.

How about you?

82 comments

  1. Oh, my, another “dear blog” I enjoyed, Sheridan French, is “taking a break” as well…burn out. Take a break, darlin…we’re supporting you. franki

  2. Oh, cry me a river. While I can sympathize with your difficulty in getting pregnant, the rest not so much. Perhaps volunteering for those less fortunate will help put your “difficulties” in perspective. There are a million great blogs out there so take a break or stop altogether if it will make your life less stressful. Good grief! Grow up and count your blessings.

  3. Erin,
    One word: Meditation! Being in the design world
    with two design firms Boston and Palm Beach.
    Not to mention being the editor of Palm Beach
    Illustrated magazine … For design & fashion.
    Raising a son, having three homes. Then got cancer
    twice. I urge you to slow down. Enjoy all your gifts.
    You must make ‘Erin time!’

    Remember, try mediation … I swear it saved my life.
    -mss

  4. Hi Erin, I think you’re wonderful and love your blog, but you need to tell “Erin-the-schedule-maker” to back off. After all, I’m not sure if your posting schedule is to suit yourself or if it’s an obligation to your sponsors…but I’m ok with fewer posts. You’ll have a fresher head and more energy with you post less per week.

    I hear so many bloggers talk about burn-out, that I think there must be some fantasy out there that blog readers expect a post every day. Some of them have had to go on hiatus or the quality of their posts have suffered as they try to keep to a daily schedule. Frankly, I don’t even have time to read all my favourite blogs when they post too often. And hearing them talk about the stress of posting daily becomes a downer. After all, this is entertainment. (Or depending on the post, for sharing of common passions or insights that help all of us cope.) When it becomes a burden to the blogger, nobody benefits.

    As for the baby making plans, congratulations…it’s great that you are looking forward to starting a family. But trust me, when you’re under so much stress, your body releases cortisol which is bad for you and not conducive to providing a healthy environment for conception.

    Do less and enjoy more. Good luck! Bianca

  5. First, there are some crazies who read your blog. Just sayin’ (LOVE YOU ALL!). Second, you are a delightful friend (I can attest), a perfect wife (Andrew can attest), and amazing daughter (sing it, Betsy!)– and we believe that not because of your perfection, but because of your imperfection. Frankly, much more perfection from you and I’d probably have to cut out. The hair is almost more than I can handle as it.

    As for babies… you want to know what imperfect looks like? Take a gander southward after that little darling makes its debut….

  6. I used to be very very hard on myself when I made a mistake, about anything. Then I read this: when we beat ourselves up so much when we screw up, at the heart of that is a certain arrogance – that we actually believe if we just tried hard enough, we could be perfect. We are not here to be perfect. We cannot be perfect.
    Hope you can enjoy some quiet and wonder this Christmas.

  7. Hi Erin, oh you do sound so much like me! I have always been busy and constantly feeling like I am juggling many balls in the air At one time but I love it.it makes me feel like I am living a full life. I used to feel guilty doing nothing but as I have gotten older I have realized that I need some downtime to reflect on where I am at and appreciate what’s happening around me and and help me plan for the future. I carve out some time grab a notebook and pen and see whereit takes me. Otherwise life just flies by. Sometimes we need to be kind to ourselves and nurture ourselves the same way we would other people. Look after yourself sweet girl.

  8. And …. To Dawn

    Have you lost your mind?? I’m crying a river for you at this very moment. You are very brave to assume that you will never be in a position to need to take a moment and ask for a shoulder to lean on. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle”.

    I would like to use harsher words but in the spirit of the season I would just say close your browser and find another blog that appreciates your lack of sensitivity. This blog belongs to Erin, but it also belongs to her loyal and supportive readers who love the community Erin inspires and gathers. So from one reader to another… Move along, please.

  9. How brave and wonderful of you to write an eloquent post about what so many women are going through. Ironically, you seem to have everything in perfect Pinterest order. Every post, every outfit, every interior – I’m just in awe. You are one of my most favorite bloggers.

    Give yourself the time you need to rejuvenate and don’t worry about what you aren’t getting done in the meantime. You are getting A LOT done by investing in yourself. And be kind to yourself in your pursuit of being a mother. You will be a Mom one day. And when you become a Mom, you will be a great one (with the best looking nursery and baby wardrobe ever!)

    I recently came across (and am almost finished with) The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Next to Anne Lamontt’s Bird by Bird, it might be the most illuminating book I’ve ever read. To add to that, Brene is working with Oprah on an eCourse based off of the book starting in January. I learned of this two days ago and can barely wait for it to start.

    Best wishes and many thoughts extended to you as you find your new inner peace!

  10. Just remember you have a lot of fans going through holiday
    stress too. Love your blog, and love your taste. I live in Chicago,
    and would hire you in a hearbeat to re-do my suburban empty-nest!!
    Keep going and come back to Chicago soon! Are you doing a public
    appearance. I will gather some friends and come out to support you.

  11. Perfect time to take stock. Focus on the most satisfying part of each activity you do. Forget the parts of your day that feel heavy and taxing. Blog less, you will not lose readers and even if you do, so what? Take on less clients, focus on clients you must enjoy working with. Take on less promotional activities. Throw out some things. You have established your company through hard work and creativity. Allow it to take you on a slower ride now.

    Hard to imagine how a baby will fit in to the lifestyle you described. Properly raising a confident, well adjusted, creative child in today’s challenging pressure filled world takes quiet time spent with the baby from day one. I sat next to a young family on a long flight a few days ago. Toddler was on an iPad the entire flight except for a short nap, parents were too. Very little interaction between the three of them. Made me sad.

    Your openness in your writing helps so many people, you cannot measure that or ever know how you have affected someone. Sharing is the most beautiful part of blogging. Add your ability to openly share the honesty of your life to the list of your other talents!

  12. Hi Erin. I highly recommend you check out Danielle Laporte’s website and book “The Desire Map” . Danielle is a Canadian author and speaker who is just plain cool . The premise of her business philosophy is asking yourself “how do you want to feel” and then make your business decisions and goals based on how you want to feel throughout the process. It has become very thought provoking for me dealing with future difficult situations. Changing your mindset puts you in control. Her philosophy might click for you.

  13. Hi Erin, What good is pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion? As I found out in my thirties, serious health problems can result from trying to be everything to everyone. Take time for yourself. We’ll miss you but we’ll still be here when you get back. Learn to say no. And yes, yoga is a great way to help deal with stress. I start each day with it! To a healthy new year!
    xo
    Holly

  14. I have totally been there! We should get together and go bowling and commiserate. I was running on “e” for days and as a result, I was just sick for 5 straight days. Nothing says “slow down” more than cancelling a dozen meetings cause you can’t get out of bed. The holidays are a good excuse for a break, so relax and enjoy. Pregnancy WILL come, but you’re probably right, relaxing a bit can’t hurt. ;)

  15. Erin – I can totally relate, and I have been there. We tried for almost 4 years, including fertility treatments and a miscarriage, until we finally had our first child. Please do know that we’re all rooting for you.

    Personally, at this point I would recommend you start looking into fertility treatments, if you haven’t already (you mention doctors). You’ve been trying on your own long enough. I would recommend you start soon, since the issue is starting to take its toll and getting the pre-treatment workups done can take a while (1-2 months). The sooner you’re pregnant, the sooner you’ll be happier.

    Also, just a point of note, once you do get pregnant, be prepared to be knocked on your behind for a while. If the nausea doesn’t get you, the sheer fatigue will. Be prepared to put life on hold for a good month or two. Been there. You mentioned waking up in the morning, and not feeling rested? Yeah, be prepared for that to happen a lot.

    Good luck, truly, we’re all rooting for you!

  16. Erin – I get it. Hang in there and relax with your family over the holidays. I second what Janet said, start talking to your doctor about fertility treatments now. Taking action will help you to relax. We finally reached out to a fertility specialist after 2 years of trying and it just felt good to talk to someone and start taking some steps to get things on track. Good luck!

  17. As a fellow entrepreneur, I strongly encourage you to check out Lara Casey, editor of Southern Weddings. She wears multiple hats and has a lot on her plate, but takes time to focus on what matters. Seriously, read through some of her blog posts. It’ll change your viewpoint on relationships, business, etc. You are your own boss and it’s up to you to make the change. It’ll be so worth it. A great tip I took from Lara was to limit office hours to T, W, and Th. Use Mon and Fri as catch up days and time to focus on you and your family. Away from your phone.

  18. Just reading your post exhausts me!

    We rented a cabin (a very modern cabin…I am not a rustic gal) in Suches, Georgia last year (Blue Sky Rentals). It was the absolute middle of nowhere, surrounded by gorgeous mountains, and very little cell phone service. It was such a nice getaway and a nice refresher. You might like it.

    I wish the absolute best for you and I pray that you’re able to have children. They’ll be so beautiful. Being a parent is a real lesson in being chill. You have no other choice but to roll with the punches because babies don’t care about your schedule. It’s a hard adjustment, but way worth it. xoxo

  19. You’re in Chicago! Come be my guest at the Adler Planetarium. Just write me and you can sit here in our great space, think about space and your work, and maybe – just maybe – relax!

  20. OHHHHHHHHH sistah! I know- while I don’t have a thriving business I do stay at home with my three littles and a lot of time I feel like I can’t keep up!:) You are doing an amazing job…and know that there are other sistahs out there feeling like an “unplug” is just what they need!

  21. First: we are cut from the same cloth. And blogging/Pinterest/Facebook only exacerbates our tendencies and enables our neurotic perfectionist way of life. That said: the stress is precisely what’s keeping you from achieving (there’s that word again) mommyhood. I can assure you of that.

    Sign up for vinyasa flow yoga STAT and let the stress out of your body. The good news is: you can trick your brain here: your new goal is to achieve a heightened state of zen!! Yoga has completely changed how I look & feel. Best workout & best head clearing method I’ve found. I solve all of the world’s problems on the mat.

    Now the bad news: after you have those beautiful, remarkable children you’ll put even more pressure upon yourself. You’ll be blogging, pinning, raising them, reading books to them, working on client work, getting your yoga on – all at once. It’s difficult but possible. And I assure you: the love you’ll feel from them and for them makes it all worth it.

  22. Dear Erin,

    Thank you for your honesty, confidence and trust in your readers. I appreciate what you have shared, especially as I often feel myself teeter-tottering over the burnout line more and more often lately. It may sound simple, but just knowing that someone that I respect so much (you’ve earned it; how I look forward to what you’ll showcase next!) is experiencing something of the same makes me feel like I’ll be okay.

    I thank your other readers as well. There have been some excellent comments that make it clear that it is so important to take better care of ourselves. I want to try to let go of the guilt, and be more myself–so that I can be there for the ones that I love, and those that love me!

    Good luck on your journey, Erin! Thankfully, it seems like this challenge couldn’t have come at a better time! 1-2-3, relax!

  23. Honey
    There is nothing a plane ride to Australia can’t fix!
    Hell, if it was good enough for Oprah it’s good enough for you.
    I live in Melbourne it’s a really exciting city, heaps on and it’s summer. Come over and play. I’ll show you around some serious good beaches and some insane interior spaces you’ll die for.
    Die.
    I’ll send you so me pics if you like ?
    As I’m still working out how best to set up my blog. I’m overwhelmed by all the choices…

  24. Erin,
    I understand and I’m with you. I find it extremely difficult to turn off. I have spent money every month to get a massage; I lay on the table with a thousands things running through my mind, strategizing on what I will be doing once I get up. I’m not sure what it will take to relax but when you find out, please do share.

    Hoping to breathe and relax soon,
    Yolonda

  25. Hi Erin…every word I read resonated with me…I am under enormous pressure at the moment because my little business has been bought out by a much bigger company…I now have to answer to an accountant and two partners.
    When I get home at night, I feel just like you do…sitting around doing nothing aka relaxing, seems like a waste of time…how do you switch from work mode to relax mode when the pressure is on? It is something I am going to have to work on in the New Year too…thanks for sharing.

  26. First to Zoe, eloquently said. Second, in my 20’s and 30’s, I worked my self to the bone and it cost me my health. In my 40’s, I got my priorities straight and now everything else is just gravy. Don’t take your health, mental or physical for granted. It truly has to come first or there is nothing else. Taking care of yourself is nothing to feel guilty for nor does it make you a failure. It makes you a better wife, mother, daughter, friend….. Take care!

  27. I’m reading this two+ days after you posted because I’m on a business trip and it’s the first chance I’ve had for some unapologetic wine and blog time away from the office/boyfriend/his daughter/Christmas shopping/housekeeping/exercising/etc. I keep hearing things about how our society celebrates busyness and how it’s got to stop. But i haven’t seen it and I haven’t been able to totally embrace it…”we want more”, right? (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BgxzjrodNvI&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DBgxzjrodNvI). But maybe less is more (no intention to be deep thoughts here).

    All that said: Take a break; skip a day; no pressure. I will still read this blog and regard you as style inspiration (despite the fact that my current style state is dismal). Maybe I’ll even appreciate not having to catch up with so many damn posts. :)

  28. Hi, been reading for a while and love you, your style, your observations. All good stuff. Inspiring. Just want to say: don’t add guilt about being stressed to your stress about having a baby. I’ve been through it all in this area, including an IVF cycle and pregnancy — through which I was a total stress case — that finally brought me a son. And I’ve conceived naturally amid a major move, possibly the most stressful thing on the planet. What I’m trying to say is, I think media and the medical establishment sometimes exaggerate the link between stress and pregnancy/conceiving, which does nothing more than make women feel they’re responsible for something that’s probably totally out of their hands.

    I think everyone has to take the journey — including the decision to seek help — on her own time & terms. If you do decide to see a specialist (if you aren’t already), I can recommend two amazing ones in the Boston area if you’re interested.

    I wish you lots of wonderful down time, possibly involving a fancy day spa, during the holiday break!

  29. Erin, great resolve. I get it, and really give you so much credit for doing a blog EVERY day. As someone who has tried and failed to blog even somewhat regularly, I give all of the daily bloggers kudos. Its a lot, and I really think its easy to get caught up in the “I have to write or people will stop visiting” mentality. I was actually really aggravated at a blogger one time when the bloggers husband was posting on her behalf while she was in recuperating in the hospital. Spend time with yourself and family and forget about the blog fans every once in awhile. We’ll come back: )

    Oh, and 2 things 1) my mother all but gave up having another child over 7 years of trying. She finally donated all the baby gear and sure enough she was pregnant almost immediately. 2) my aunt adopted after trying and trying and then got pregnant twice in 2 years.

    Your probably right: let the mind rest; )

  30. Erin,

    You are the only blog I read regularly and definitely the only online comment I have posted. I just wanted to let you know, as someone who is also struggling with getting pregnant, that I really respect how open you are. I understand how painful it is month after month and writing about it on your blog takes guts.

    You will be an amazing Mom. In the meantime, have a glass of wine, snuggle with your pups, and know that kids will come when they are meant to and when they do all the waiting will seem like nothing (at least that is what I try to tell myself!)xo

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