This is my “Self Care” bingo entry.
I just finished reading Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I’ve read so many self-help/self-empowerment/self-care books, that I feel like Burnout wasn’t necessarily presenting me with information that I didn’t already know, but it was putting together information that I already know in a surprising way.
Burnout is written by two sisters – Emily and Amelia Nagoski – and it is specifically aimed at woman-identified people and the specific stressors we face. Emily is a health behavior specialist and sex educator and very deep into the science of behavior. Amelia is a highly accomplished conductor and musician. And together, they have created a book filled with clear examples of burnout and useful strategies for conquering stress, or at least going with the flow and completing the stress cycle so you are in less danger of burning out.
Full disclosure: It took me three weeks to read this book, because I have been overworked this summer. Every day I picked the book up, I realized that I related so closely with the experiences that Julie and Sophie and Emily and Amelia (all examples in the book) were having. And more than that, I recognized that these things have been a pattern in my life for as long as I can remember.
However, I think the concept I found the most useful was “Human Giver Syndrome.” “Symptoms include:
- Believing that you have a moral obligation, that is, you owe it to your partner, your family, the world, or even to yourself to be pretty, happy, calm, generous and attentive to the needs of others;
- Believing that any failure to be pretty, happy, calm, generous, and attentive makes you a failure as a person;
- Believing that your ‘failure’ means you deserve punishment – even going so far as to beat yourself up; and
- Believing these are not symptoms, but normal and true ideas.” (Burnout)
The Nagoskis devote quite a bit of time to discussing human giver syndrome and how it has been ingrained in woman-identified people from birth, and there is an expectation that we make ourselves small and inoffensive and available for everyone else. That we are expected to make space for other people to take care of themselves by taking on more than we can handle. That we are told our existence is for others and not for us. It struck me as very powerful while I was reading.
In general, by connecting stress with patriarchy and body image, and also talking about the ways that self help has become this industry that also gives us more stress by telling us to grin and bear it and get through it and write gratitude things, the Nagoskis presented previous information in a new way that was easier for me to internalize.