Laurie and Dr. Crystal Frazee discuss burnout and what you can do to prevent it.
Dr. Crystal Frazee is a high performance and resilience coach to female founders, executives, health care pros, and entrepreneurs. She’s the creator of the Somatic Attunement Method and the 9-month high touch coaching program, SPACIOUS. She’s built a reputation around helping successful women shift from feeling stretched thin and overworked to truly satisfied and at ease through her 1×1 coaching.
This is a transcription of an IGlive video. You can find the full video on Laurie’s Instagram and soon on YouTube.
Hi, everyone. Dr. Crystal Frazee is going to be joining me. We’re going to be talking about burnout. What it is and what the signs are. How you will feel if you’re near burnout and what you can do to turn that ship around if you are there.
I would start by letting you introduce yourself. You’re a high performance and resilience coach. Tell me more, tell us more.
I have an interesting background. I’m a doctor of physical therapy. I’ve spent a decade as a women’s health specialist. From that perspective, I’ve done a lot of integrated women’s health training.
I spent several years as the founder of mindful pain relief. I was really dedicated to helping women relieve themselves of chronic pain. What I found was that it was not that women generally didn’t have the tools to relieve their pain. After working with people over a long period of time and many, many women, hundreds of clients, it really started to get under my skin. I think this is a collective issue. I’m not pointing anybody out, but the challenge was really doing the things, giving themselves permission to do the things, putting the things they needed to do, to manage their health better, at the top of the to-do list and not at the bottom, giving themselves the resources they needed once everything else was ticked off.
I just really started to feel like I needed to address a bigger issue. So I shifted my focus to more of women’s performance and resilience, because I think if we don’t have this conversation, if there’s not a movement that teaches women how to be in their bodies and trust what their body is telling them and respond to what their body needs, then we’re forever going to be in these cycles.
Probably all the viewers are professional women in this cycle of burnout, where our health is in the backseat. So it’s just been an amazing shift.
My focus is working with female founders, executives, healthcare practitioners, and entrepreneurs, to help them continue to do the important culture making work that they do and not burn out and not lose their sense of self in the process.
Such important work. As you said before, so many women are out there putting themselves second, third, fourth, last.
We’re talking about burnout today. So what does that look like? Let’s actually take that back a notch. Let’s talk about why so many women are facing burnout? You’ve touched on that a little bit.
There’s some textbook examples and definitions of burnout and there’s certain phases, that we go through with burnout.
What I think individually burnout looks like, is when you’re moving at your normal pace, but in different ways, you’re slowing down.
You’re emotionally more reactive, but you’re physically not recovering in the same way. You’re not sleeping as well. Your cravings change. You just really start to feel like, “Wow, I’m doing kind of the same things and it’s not working the same way. It’s harder for me to get stuff done. Everything feels more challenging. I’m just more drained at the end of the day.”
Honestly, most women just don’t have the skills. There’s no mastery in actually replenishing themselves. So that battery keeps draining and draining and draining.
I think that’s enough for women to look for, to identify, “Hey, this could be burnout.”
By the way, burnout is a physiologic process. It’s a combination of your immune, endocrine and all of your systems, which should be like a symphony, that are no longer in harmony.
That starts to really take a toll on every system, so that’s how you experience it.
I want to give you a visual metaphor. I’ll just use myself as an example here. I’m a homeowner, this is a brick and I’m going to put it on my shoulder. I’m going to hold it up. I’m also the caretaker of the home. So I manage everything. There’s all these things I need to do. I’m a mother of two children, so stack a few more bricks on.
Let’s stack some more over here. This is my business and all the things that go with that. Then let’s stack about a hundred more bricks on. That’s the body image and what I’m tracking because summer’s coming. All that stuff.
Women have been statistically shown to be the ones that carry the load. We are the ones that anticipate needs in every realm, our lives, our neighbors lives, our community lives, our families lives. We’re the ones that delegate.
So women especially, have so much more that they’re processing every day. It’s so much more important that they have a way to replenish themselves or at least that they know they need to replenish themselves.
I think that’s kind of the first step that most people don’t have. Before you even start doing self-care, just the ability to discern what’s happening inside is really important.
Someone commented and said that it feels like we’ve forgotten how to have fun. For sure when everything feels like it’s so heavy and there’s so much to do and you just have to keep going, there’s no time for any fun. Certainly that’s a problem. We all need more fun.
So if we recognized that we’re feeling this heaviness. We recognize we have all these bricks on our shoulders. We’re carrying all the load. What are some things we can start to do to shift out of that?
Something really simple that I would like to share and would like to promote is somatic awareness. I’m the founder of the somatic attunement method. It’s what I use with my clients.
Simply all you have to do is just listen to the messages your body is giving you, because it’s giving you messages constantly, 24/7, always. It makes sense that we tune some of that out, because we can’t be wasting energy on how well our lunch is digesting, but we do want to be tracking something.
So I guess a good question to start with for the viewers is what are you tracking? What are you paying attention to? How are you?
When somebody asks that question, how well are you physically, emotionally and mentally? Do you have something that you’re actually using, that you’re monitoring and tracking on a daily basis to discern what you say to that?
We’re so used to saying “I’m fine, everything’s fine. I don’t need anything.”
We’re also so used to just being the problem solvers and so easily taking more and more on and feeling like that’s normal. It’s critical that we have a way to check in with ourselves.
The very simple thing I would like to ask our viewers to try with us right now is what I call a check-in. It’s like a body scan, but you move kind of quickly. You just move down your body. I’ll guide you through one.
Let’s just observe physical sensation. Most people want to feel physically strong and energized, open and loose, comfortable, maybe warm. What we often find though, is that our body feels tight, tired, fatigued, blocked, dark, restricted, aching, things like that. So buzzing, tingling, those kinds of physical sensations.
If we all just close our eyes for a second. Just take your awareness inside. You notice that you’re breathing. You’re noticing that you’re right here, right now.
Then you just scan with your awareness from the top of your head, down your trunk and arms, to your belly across your hips and pelvis, to your legs and down to your lower legs and feet. Just notice what sensations are most prominent, what pops out and then mark that, hang on to it and move through the whole body.
It doesn’t have to make sense either. I think that’s important. It doesn’t need to make any kind of rational sense what you’re feeling. No analyzing or wondering why, telling stories.
For all the women I work with, we’re carrying all those bricks. We can’t hand them off because we’re not sure that anyone else will take care of them.
So we keep holding them, carrying them through our mind check, seeing it’s still on the to-do list. That cognitive function is so important. If you just kind of check in, it’s noticing what sensations are there.
So take a moment, breathe and maybe you can report what you feel with that. Most people want to feel clear, calm, creative, and focused. What we have to overcome is feeling dull, slow, tired, blank, distracted, chaotic, scattered, those kinds of things.
Sometimes it’s neutral. Maybe you don’t feel anything, but over time you start to notice more things.
The check-in is just so important, because maybe you’re mentally tired and you’re not physically tired. Your body is telling you, that you need some mental rest, which might actually mean exercise.
When you get done with work, you might initially think, “Oh, I’m so tired. I’m just going to lay on the couch.”
I really think this is the number one full-proof way to prevent burnout. I think that if we summarize what it is, listening to your body, but that really means taking the time and the permission to ask your body what it has to say.
That in itself is hard work and takes time. It’s just giving yourself the space to develop mastery with that.
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The second step is, “What am I going to do with what I noticed? Am I going to acknowledge it? Am I going to do something now?”
That’s a whole other can of worms, because I work with some women for months and we just get the first part down. The second part is still really challenging, because they have all that old wiring, there’s still so much on their plate.
I would love to ask the viewers to start doing a daily check-in. It’s great to do it in your transitions, in between a client or after work, before you go home or something like that.
Check in with yourself, what’s happening inside right now and what do you need?
Usually what you need is so simple. Maybe it’s just to turn music on and listen to one song. Maybe it’s not to pick up your phone and to look outside.
What really makes a difference are those little things, those little silly things. You don’t have to go to yoga for an hour. Find something you could do for one to three minutes that is going to be restoring for you.
Really try to discern, is it physical fatigue or mental fatigue? Is it physical pain or emotional pain? What’s really happening here?
You’re gonna respond in the right way and you’re going to actually care for that sensation. It’s going to go away over time.
If you listen to your body, when she whispers, then you don’t have to listen to her scream. That’s what this is about. You don’t have to worry about facing burnout if you’re doing this as a regular practice,
100 percent. It’s so simple listening to your body, and it’s such an easy place to start.
Absolutely. We could get lost in all the things like polyvagal theory and all the different avenues for stress management.
I feel like those are just other tools to put in your tool bag once you have this down. If you’re missing this piece, you’re just guessing. You’re just doing a bunch of stuff and you don’t have the time or energy for that.
Your body will tell you exactly what you need. I think that’s probably relevant for your interventions for hormone balancing. It’s not complicated this stuff and your body’s telling you already.
I wish there was a magic wand that I could wave and we could all wake up from this trance, I call it the perfection paradox, because we strive to have all the things in a certain way. We don’t even know why we want it to be like that.
It keeps us busy and the reality is we’ll never achieve it.
We miss having fun and enjoying our lives and being present to our bodies right now. So we can all just decide right now, not to do that. Just like that we can decide to start listening and caring for our bodies in a way that we’ve never seen.
I don’t have female role models in my early childhood or adult life that have taught me how to do that. It’s only now that I really have created a family, community of other like-minded people, where I really see that I can admire others for doing it.
We don’t often have other women growing up modeling these kinds of things. Modeling listening to your body, modeling setting boundaries or saying, “My body is saying no, so I’m going to say no.”
Look in your own life for where your body is telling you, “I’m uncomfortable. I don’t like this. This is not in balance. This is not my brick to carry.”
Just listen, you don’t have to know what to do yet, but just start by listening.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It’s important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information — we’re all wonderfully unique.
Laurie Villarreal, FNLP, CHWC, FNS, LMC, CPT, RYT
Hi, I'm Laurie, a functional nutritionist and board certified health coach, athlete, dog-mom, and biohacking adventure-lover. After having struggled for years to find lasting solutions for my own debilitating hormone-related symptoms, I created my online practice to begin helping other active, driven women get the support they need. I now help women around the world elevate their health, energy, business and life by optimizing their hormones with personalized nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Together, we discover new tools and strategies that keep you showing up at your best so you can play even bigger in your life and work.