By Rumble sponsored athlete Laurin Thorne
It was the first time I was truly broken. No matter how far I dug there was no part of me that wanted to continue this dream that has kept me alive for so long. If you were like me, you may be experiencing symptoms of a burnout. Having an association to the term ‘burnout’ indicates that you have pushed past your limit for too long: you have been working too many hours, working out without enough recovery, or been surrounded in a negative environment, all past what you can endure.
I have experienced burnout a few times, but each with different stimuli and resulting consequences. I am in the midst of a burnout as we speak. For years I was training with a team and coach that, in hindsight, I should have realized was not a good match. After that chapter closed I began my journey to find a better environment: one where people will have my back and genuinely want the best for me. I was tired of being a scapegoat and being treated on a different scale than my teammates.
I may be making it sound like finding a new team and coach was an easy transition, but it was the exact opposite. I lost friends, I became shunned by my previous team, and I lost people who were so important to me. I lost the extra support team of my swim and strength coach, physio, nutritionist, psychologist, and sport doctor, as they were a part of my previous team. I quickly found a new coach who was better than I could have asked for.. but it was a rushed transition and I didn’t allow myself to cope with the heartbreak I had just encountered. I was forcing myself to be okay and to move on, but as the weeks went on my mental state was getting worse. It would take me hours to get out the door for a training session, I would pull out of workouts and break into tears. I was broken and I knew it. For weeks I was alone and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was angry, sad, confused, lost, frustrated, and hurt. For a sport that I used to love, I began dreading it. Having major breakdowns became a part of my schedule for 5 months as I forced myself through the pain and hatred. It was during one of those breakdowns I messaged my coach saying that I was not showing up to training the following day ..or the day after that. I told him I hated triathlon and I was done.
Being burnt out can affect people differently. I found comfort in isolating myself, staying in bed as much as I could, and limiting my interactions. To say the least, I had developed depression and this wasn’t the first time in my athletic career I have dealt with it. That type of mental state often goes hand in hand with burnout. Whether you have found yourself in a burnout or are dealing with deeper emotions, here are some tips I have used to help climb out of the hole:
Tips for Coming Back After a Burnout
- Let yourself stop and go through the emotions. Don’t make rash decisions based off of your current emotions
- If you keep pushing and suppress your current state, it will come back and get you later
- Remove yourself from the environment and people that are causing the bad emotions
- Do what you want to do on your own terms. Try not to guilt yourself into the work that’s causing the harmful emotions
- It can help to take time by yourself to gain clarity, but it’s also helpful to surround yourself by good people who can bring a smile to your face
- Be kind to yourself. It’s so easy to engrain bad habits. Be responsible for your sleep and eating schedule
- Keep getting your sunshine! The outdoors is a healing place
- Talk to others to gain a perspective on your situation (friends/peers/therapist)
Burnouts can last for varying durations depending on the person. You are strong enough to get through to the other side but have patience in the process. These feelings and emotions are not going to last forever. When you begin to feel better, it’s possible that you don’t want to go back to the same lifestyle. I want to point out that it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to move on and find a different path. Your job and career do not define you. It’s your life and you get to choose your path.
Follow me @laurinthorne
For more on burnout, check out our list of 20 proven tips to de-stress.