Millions of Americans are returning back to work after being home during the pandemic. While this has been exciting for many, some are feeling burned out by their work. What do you do if you are feeling burned out by your work? How do you reverse it? How can you “get your mojo back”? What can employers do to help their staff reverse burnout?
In this interview series called “Beating Burnout: 5 Things You Should Do If You Are Experiencing Work Burnout,” we are talking to successful business leaders, HR leaders and mental health leaders who can share insights from their experience about how we can “Beat Burnout.”.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingJanet Philbin.
Janet is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Hypnotherapist and Certified Conscious Parenting Coach. Janet helps adults heal from the emotional pain and trauma of their past. She is the owner of Janet Philbin, ACSW a private psychotherapy and hypnotherapy practice.
She’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book, Show Up For Yourself: A Guide to Inner Awareness and Growth.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised on Long Island. I am the oldest of three girls. I remember the first five years of my life in Brooklyn. There was a freedom at that time, running up and down on the sidewalks, walking to a friend’s house, and just sitting on the stoops. When we moved to Long Island, we lived in a court which afforded us the same freedoms. We played outside every day and when it was time to come in for dinner, mom would open the front door and call our names out to the neighborhood that it was time to come home, and we came running. It just was the way it was back then.
My sisters and I had a very close relationship with our grandparents. When they came to visit, we would devote our entire day or weekend to spending it with them. The relationship with my grandparents was one of the strongest building blocks for the person I am today. What I learned through them as I grew up informed my values and belief systems. Two of my grandparents were holocaust survivors who lost almost everyone in the concentration camps they taught my sisters and I the value of nurturing relationships, unconditional love, and the importance of family. When we would visit them in Brooklyn, they devoted all their time to us. We also made frequent visits to my great aunt and uncles house, and though, as I child it would be “boring” it allowed us to develop close relationships with them and with my cousin whom I still maintain that closeness with today.
My parents divorced when I was five years old. My mother became a single mom. Living on Long Island with no job, not knowing how to drive she had to find a way to make life work for all four of us. What I learned about perseverance and survival I believe took root at that time of my life. My mother went back to school to learn a skill and took driving lessons. She did not let her life circumstances at that time dictate her life, instead she made decisions to direct her life. One of the things she always told my sisters and me was to have something for you, find a career or trade so you can always support yourself. She never cared what we would grow up to do, just that we could be independent and self-reliant. We did just that, as my sisters and I each earned professional degrees.
While we all know the benefits of being honest about our feelings and allowing them space, contrarily, we are hardwired to hide, deny and control our emotions instead. Processing your emotions can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. With the advice from experts, you can learn to better process your emotions in 9 different ways.
Be Aware Of It, Pause, And Identify With Objectivity
The first step is to become aware that you’re experiencing a difficult emotion by noticing the physical aspects of it. This might sound straightforward, but many of us cope with difficult emotions by disconnecting ourselves from them through numbing, self-medicating, or ignoring them.
After you have that awareness, pause and identify the emotion. And, instead of turning away, turn towards it without judgment. Allow yourself to experience it with a sense of objectivity.
Instead of saying, “I feel angry,” for example, say, “I feel anger in my body.” This is a small shift, but it moves you from being in the mode of the one experiencing the emotion to the one observing it.
Address the Physical Manifestations of it, Then Process Them Through Breathing Exercises and Creativity
Having spent a lot of time on personal and emotional development, I would love to share the best ways I have found to feel and process my emotions. I have struggled a lot in the past with repressing my emotions, and the most effective way I have found to release them is to address the physical manifestations and tensions that they cause.
For example, I hold a huge amount of tension in my jaw to the extent that I have developed TMJ problems, but through treating and reducing the tension in my jaw, I have managed to get in touch with and actually experience my emotions rather than losing them into physical tension.
Then, to process these feelings, I use a combination of deep breathing techniques to regulate how I’m feeling and creativity through art and music-making to understand and express these emotions. While this process doesn’t necessarily make the experience of difficult emotions easier, it does mean I am experiencing a full spectrum of emotions and processing them in a much more healthy way.
I think the most important thing to understand when speaking about feelings and emotions is that they are two different things. When we can understand the difference, then we can find healthy ways to process the emotions and feelings we all experience daily.
Feelings are something you experience in your physical body. Feelings are sensations that arise within you in response to what is happening outside of you. Feeling your feelings is an awareness of something that is affecting you, either internally or externally. Some examples are the feeling of butterflies in your stomach, tears building up in your eyes, the tension in your head, or tightness in your shoulders. Emotions are your reactions to feelings.
You label the emotions as anger, joy, frustration, excitement, anticipation, fear, etc. You get into emotional trouble and become stuck, unable to process feelings because you develop stories about yourself and the world around you based on the emotional reactions, not the feelings which first began in the body.
Pause And Take A Breath-Do Not Label The Feeling. There Is Power In The Pause.
When you pause and take a breath, tune into your physical body and identify where in your body you are feeling your feelings. Acknowledge the experience of what is going on inside of you. You can say things to yourself like, “I have tightness in my chest right now or my throat hurts.” Once you acknowledge the feeling, start to breathe. Imagine breathing your breath into the part of your body which is experiencing the feeling.
Set A Timer For 60-90 Seconds
Research has shown that it only takes 60-90 seconds for uncomfortable/stressful feelings to pass through our bodies. Sit with your feet on the floor in a comfortable chair, place your hand on your heart and pay attention to the beat of your heart, and rise and fall of your chest as you breathe. Imagine breathing warm air into the part of your body that is feeling stress. When the timer goes off, you will feel relief and easily be able to move on with your day.