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INFJ Burnout: Keep Going When You Don’t Know How

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

This past week has been really interesting. I live close to Boston, Massachusetts, and we had a couple of storms. They’re called Nor’easters. They’re kind of like tropical storms, actually, like really wicked powerful storms. There’s lots of wind, and there really isn’t anything to interrupt the wind because it comes right off of the ocean, which I think is part of how they get to be so powerful. The wind gets really crazy, and it rained for three days straight. I don’t think I saw the sun for, like, five days straight, and it just felt like a lot.

The other part of living in Boston, mostly, I love living close to Boston, but one of the few things that I just absolutely hate is that this time of the year is the sun starts to go down super early, and by the time we get into December, the sun will set at 4:30pm. And then the sun doesn’t come up until almost 8:00 in the morning. So you have this very short period of time where there’s actually sunlight outside, which feels really weird. There are a lot of people who suffer from seasonal depression. And with me already having depression, that’s one of the things that can trigger going into depression again. It’s a little bit better now that I work from home because it used to be that I would just go into work when it was dark outside, and then by the time I was done, it was already dark outside. But now that I work from home, at least I get to see the sun in the wintertime, which is nice, but there’s a process of adapting to it.

There are different things that you can do, like there are these lights that you can get that mimic sunlight that help a little bit. But it’s also just kind of a process of realizing what’s going on and adapting and resting and recharging and giving yourself space to feel what you feel and to be okay with not always feeling great and feeling really good. That’s kind of what we’re talking about today: how to deal with INFJ burnout and how to keep going when you really don’t feel that good.

I’ve been through a lot here

I’ve been through quite a few burnouts, and they’re kind of fresh in my mind. Last year, I was sick for most of the year. I’m 100% positive that I had a dangerous virus in January through February of 2020. But that was before they had all the tests and everything. So the doctors that I went to were like, “I don’t know what you have. It’s some kind of respiratory infection. You’ll be fine.”

And then I wasn’t fine. And then they didn’t know what to do. I think I saw, like, seven or eight different doctors and pretty much thought I was going to die for most of the year. There’s something that’s really frustrating when you have a cough that doesn’t go away. Sometimes I get a cough because of allergies. And so I’m like, okay, I need some Zyrtec or Claritin, some kind of allergy medication, and it’ll go away in a couple of days.

Sometimes it’s something bigger that’s like an infection or something. So you go to the doctor and they’re like, “oh, yeah, you have a respiratory infection. Here you go. You’ll be better in a week.” I did all of those things, and it didn’t get better. And so then my mom, who’s a nurse, was sending me all kinds of other things to try: cough syrup, cough drops, concoctions, herbs and nothing helped. And just the frustration of coughing to the point of losing your voice every single day, being tired from coughing all day long and then not being able to catch your breath is just, like, so exhausting. And it just takes everything out of you because you’re just focused on breathing all day long.

So for me, all of 2020 was basically literally struggling to keep breathing and then not having the energy to do anything else and then being super frustrated because you’re going to doctors and they’re like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. You look fine to me,” and it’s like, cool. But why can’t I breathe?

So dealing with all of that, caused me to not be able to deal with anything else. It was like, I can’t think about anything else. I don’t want to talk about anything else. I just want to keep holding on until I can find some type of solution.

Unfortunately, and thankfully, it took almost a whole year to find a solution. But I was able to figure out the solution. And what happened was I had this really bad virus and it made my asthma go from barely noticeable to severe and uncontrolled, which was the cough that I had that just wouldn’t go away. So once I went to see the right type of doctor, he was like, “I don’t know how you didn’t die.” I’m like, I don’t really know either. But tell me you can fix it. And he was “like, yeah, you take this medication and this medication and you’ll stop coughing.” And, like, three days later, I quit coughing.

Taking the time you need

There are certain situations where it’s like, this is a lot to deal with, and you just don’t have the space or the capacity to deal with anything else. Plus, you pile on top of that everything else 2020 brought to us. There are a lot of people even now, at the end of 2021, that are still recovering from that, still dealing with the burnout, the fear, the uncertainty and trying to even remember what it was like to feel normal.

I took about six months off of my blog and my podcast because I just couldn’t deal with it. There was just so much that’s like, okay, I have to stop doing all things just so that I can keep surviving. But once my health improved and I started to feel better, then it was like, okay, now I can add back in some of those things because I have the capacity to do that now.

Just about a month ago, I hit a burnout phase that was different for me than what I usually go through. Usually, with burnout, it’s just like feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and tired like I need to rest. But about a month ago, when I hit that phase, I felt like that too, but I also felt incredibly angry. That was something new for me because I don’t usually feel angry.

Thankfully this time with burnout I was able to contain it to more like a week rather than the six months that I had felt before. And I think part of that obviously is I wasn’t as sick as I was before, but part of it is that I’ve been doing so much work around self-love and learning how to feel through your feelings, healing my inner child, all of these types of things that are so important. It gave me the tools to say, okay, I recognize what’s going on here, and I’m going to sit with it for a while, and then I’m going to move on.

Feel what you’re feeling

The first step when you notice that you’re feeling burnt out is to feel what you’re feeling. A lot of times we skip this step, right? Because when you’re dealing with burnout, you just want to feel better or you don’t want to feel anything. Usually, my first response is like, okay, I’m just going to lay on the couch until I feel better, and that doesn’t always work.

And then the other response is, I just want to feel better. What do I have to do? I want to feel better right now. Can I feel better right now? What’s the thing to do to feel better right now?

But actually, the fastest way to get to feeling better is to feel through the emotions that you’re feeling. So this last time I was feeling angry and I don’t like being angry. I don’t like being mean and irritated all the time. It was difficult to sit with that for a few days and think about why I was feeling that way and try to sort out all of the emotions.

I’m really good at pushing those emotions away. We as INFJs we don’t like to feel our own emotions. We want to focus on everybody else’s emotions. We’re really good at that. That comes naturally to us. And we’re better at looking at their emotions and going, hey, this is what you need to do. I understand what you’re feeling. I get it. I see it. Here’s how you can get better.

But when it comes to us, we are lost and confused and overwhelmed. I don’t really know what to do. So just being able to sit with your feelings, being able to identify your feelings and trying to name them is the first step.

I think I was probably there for about five to seven days just trying to feel through what was going on.

Be open to feeling better

The second step is to be open to feeling better. Sometimes when you’re in burnout, you don’t want to feel better. You just want to be alone. You just want to feel bad. And that’s okay to feel bad for a while. But eventually, you’re going to have to do something different. So maybe you don’t want to feel better right now.

Maybe you’re thinking about feeling better, but you’re not there yet. In that place, you need to be open to the idea of feeling better. You don’t have to start feeling better right now. Just be open to the idea. Just start thinking about it. And if that’s too much, then be open to being open.

And for me, it’s kind of hard to explain what being open is. Sometimes for me, it’s just repeating in my head like, I’m open to feeling something different. I’m willing to feel something different without committing to what the different feeling is or without committing to or focusing on trying to feel better. It’s just saying, no, I’m open.

And maybe the first day you’re like, Well, I’m open to being open. And maybe you’re there the second day or the third day, too. But there’s going to come a day that you’re like, you know what? I’m actually willing to feel better today, and then maybe the next day it’s like, okay, let’s start. I’m ready to move on to the next thing. What’s the next thing to do to feel better?

A lot of people want to know, how long should you stay there? What’s the time frame can I have one day in step one, one day in step two, one day in step three? Each one of these steps takes as long as it takes. It’s different for everybody. And it’s different depending on what level of burnout you’re at. It’s different because of why you got there. So, unfortunately, the answer is it takes as long as it takes. You’ll know when you get there when you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Do one little thing

Step three is do one little thing, not a big thing, not an overwhelming thing, not a hard thing, one little easy thing. So for me, I’ve been feeling bad, probably close to two weeks. The first week was just, like, really angry and overwhelmed and stressed out. And the second week, I was just focused on being open to feeling something different.

And so by the time the weekend rolled around, I was like, okay, I really need to clean up my apartment because it’s kind of getting messy. But one of the problems that I have in my apartment is I have too much stuff and not enough space, not enough storage. So I was like, okay, there’s an IKEA here. I can go to IKEA and get a new bookshelf, and that’ll be my one little thing that I do.

I ended up spending probably more than an hour there. And then I found the bookshelf that I wanted and by the time I got at home, I was feeling a lot better just because I had done something different. I had been outside. I had seen some new things that are outside of my routine. And then just having the accomplishment of putting the bookshelf together was a huge thing, too. And then, of course, I bought some other stuff, too. I bought some new plates and bowls and some storage containers, so I was able to organize my kitchen. What felt like an overwhelming project before ended up feeling like something fun and easy to do.

That little bit of doing something different and accomplishing something kind of pushed me into feeling something different. That was the push that I needed to say, okay, it’s okay to feel better, and it’s totally doable to feel better. It doesn’t feel so impossible like it did before.

Push yourself

That brings us to step four, which is push yourself. This is the most difficult step. It’s the easiest and the most difficult because you finally want to feel better. But you’re still kind of stuck in the mode of, hey, it’s nice to be on the couch doing nothing. It’s nice to let go of all of the responsibilities that you have, all the stress that you have and just be doing nothing. But at this point, it’s really necessary to kind of push yourself out of that. Depending on how long you’ve been there it’s become part of your habit. It’s your routine now, so it’s necessary to push yourself out of that and say, no. It’s time to get back to normal living. It’s time to get back to what you usually do. It’s time to get back to eating better and doing your supplements and exercising. And all of the things that you know do make you feel better. But when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, those are the things that are, like, the first to go because those are the most difficult things. So pushing yourself can be a little bit difficult, but it’s super important.

Look for inspiration

And then we have step five, which is look for inspiration. Of course, the goal of walking through these steps is to reduce the amount of time that you spend in each one of your burnout phases. So when you look for inspiration, I look for people who I look up to, for people who I want to be more like and for people who make me feel good. When I listen to their podcast or their videos, the few people that I have, you’ve probably heard me talk about them 100 times before.

I love Evan Carmichael because he is an INFJ, just like we are. And his whole purpose in life is to help people believe in themselves. And he helps entrepreneurs, too. But a lot of his content is just focused on helping people believe in themselves. And we can all use more of that in our lives.

Another person I love is Gabby Bernstein. She has a podcast called Dear Gabby, and she talks a lot about being open to change and looking to a higher power for help in your life.

I love Cathy Heller as well. She has a podcast called Don’t Keep Your Day Job. She’s also focused on helping entrepreneurs, but she talks a lot about the emotional and spiritual side of life, too.

Some other people, Abraham-Hicks, Gay Hendricks, Ruth Sukoup and Amy Porterfield, are all amazing people for inspiration.

But this is the step where you get to say, who inspires me? What can I do to feel inspired every single day? So maybe that’s watching videos. Maybe it’s listening to podcast episodes. Maybe there’s a book that you like to read, whatever it is, as long as it’s something that you’re doing on a routine basis so that you’re constantly inspired.

Have a routine

The other thing that I kind of skipped over for step four is to have a routine. A routine helps a lot, especially in the morning. Your routine sets your intention for what your day is.

I’m working on my morning routine. When I first wake up I try to make sure that some of my first thoughts for the day are I am safe and everything that I desire comes to me with ease.

What we think has such a big effect on our lives, especially when you have anxiety and your mind is trained to basically attack you most of the time. You have these feelings of I’m not safe. And sometimes the feeling is I’m going to die. And it’s like, I don’t know why I feel that way. It’s just that I woke up today, and that’s what I feel, and it makes no sense. There’s no reason why I should feel that way, except that my brain is just telling me that this is how you feel. And so it’s difficult when you have no tools to be able to get out of those things.

One of the things that I’ve learned through meditation is the things that you repeat to yourself all the time are the things that you think constantly. Dr. Joe Dispenza says the thoughts that fire together wire together, which means that basically what you think all the time is what your brain is going to believe. It’s going to become the habit that you feel over and over and over again. So if your habit is feeling, I’m not safe, I’m not okay, then you’re going to feel I’m not safe and I’m not okay all the time. But if you train your mind to say I’m safe, then your mind is going to start believing that. The pathways in your brain are going to change so that that will be something that feels normal to you rather than feels weird. That’s one of the things that meditation helps you do is retrain your brain to think about the things that you want it to think about.

So what I do, part of my routine is to spend five to ten minutes in meditation every morning so that I can help train my brain to say the things that I want it to. And one of the meditations that I do is listing gratitudes, which is another good thing to think about the things that you are thankful for rather than the things that you don’t have, which is something that we think about a lot, right? What’s the next thing? What do I want? What do I need rather than what do I actually have that I’m already thankful for?

Another one is like morning mantras, which is just like, affirmations positive which is how I got the I am safe thing. That’s one of the things that she says. And when I heard it, I was kind of like, Well, that’s an odd thing to say. And then the more that I thought about it, the more it was like, no, that’s really awesome. Like, why did I never say that before? That’s never been something that’s run through my mind like, I am safe. It’s always the opposite of that. It’s always my mind is looking for the ways that I’m not safe. So I realized that just telling yourself in the morning that you’re safe makes such a huge difference.

And then the other thing, everything that I desire comes to me with ease. It’s really easy for us to focus on negative things, right? It’s easy for us to say, “this is really difficult,” and it doesn’t matter what it is whether you’re trying to start a new hobby, you want to change your habits. Maybe you want to change the way that you eat. We all have these stories that we tell ourselves and a lot of times it’s like, I can’t or this is really difficult. One of the things that I learned from my parents is it’s really difficult to lose weight. It’s impossible. It’s really hard. It doesn’t happen for me.

So when you tell yourself that over and over again, then that’s what your mind believes. And then anytime that you want to do that, the constant automatic thought that you have is, I can’t lose weight. It’s really hard to lose weight. I can’t lose weight. There’s no point in doing it. And it’s just like this stream of negativity. But when you can stop the negativity and turn it around, all of those things that you think are difficult can become easy. And really, all it takes is just changing the way that you think about something.

We all know that something is hard until you learn how to do it, right? You think about when you started driving. Driving was really hard for me. I never wanted to drive. I was like, don’t need to do that. I’m scared of cars. I don’t want to be in control of one. It was really difficult. And then my parents had to push me to drive. We lived 45 minutes outside of town in the middle of nowhere. So public transportation wasn’t an option. We didn’t have a subway or anything like that. So it was like, you have to drive.

Right after I started driving by myself consistently, I got into a major accident that was really my fault. And the first thing that my parents did was like, you got to get back in the car and start driving. I’m like, no, I didn’t ever want to do that again. They’re like, no, you have to get back in the car. You have to get back up on the horse. Keep going. Keep trying again.

So what happens is you train your brain to think about things the way you constantly think about them, right? So I thought that driving was hard and I didn’t want to drive. And it was hard until I learned how to do it, until I had practice.

They say that you’re not good at something until you have, like, 10,000 hours of experience doing it. Now, after I’ve been driving for 20 years now, it’s a lot easier. There are still some things that I don’t like to do. Like I said earlier, I don’t like to drive on the highway. I’ve gotten a lot better at driving on the highway since I’ve been in Boston. It’s a whole new thing. It’s like fighting for your life. It’s not something that I prefer to do, but it’s not difficult anymore. It’s easier because I know how to do it, right? So a lot of the things that you think are difficult, they’re only difficult because you think that they are because you’ve had this story in your head ever since you can remember that it’s difficult. And so you don’t do it because you think that you can’t do it. Whereas if you turn that thought around, if you trick your brain into saying this really isn’t difficult, it’s actually really easy. Then things start to become easier, and not only that, but your energy changes. And so instead of being scared and afraid and concerned because you think something is terrible. If you turn the thought around in your head and you’re like, you know what? This is actually easy. This is a good thing. It’s not difficult to lose weight. It’s actually really easy, and I know how to do it. And all I have to do is do those things.

Then your energy changes because you’re thinking about it differently. You’re not scared and overwhelmed. You are in control and you’re happy and excited and ready to go. So things come to you a lot easier when you have a more positive attitude about them. So that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to have a routine and to start your day with making sure that your mind is in the right place.

It’s important when you’re to think about what your routine is and to get back to whatever your routine is to do things that benefit you and that will help you. So my routine in the morning, I usually wake up around 7:00 in the morning, and I spend about 30 minutes getting ready, and then I go get coffee from my favorite place because that’s one of the things that brings me joy. And it’s also kind of like how I wake up. And then when I get home, I spend about ten to 15 minutes meditating, and then I usually look for some type of inspiration I don’t like to.

Well, I work from home first of all. And so it’s really quiet at my house, and I don’t like for things to be quiet all day long. So I usually either turn on some music or I turn on a podcast or some YouTube videos that I can listen to. I like to have that inspiration, and especially when I’m maybe not in the best of moods that’ll get me set in the right direction and help me change my mood.

If you are struggling with burnout right now or you just want to prepare for the next time that you’re struggling with it, I have a free guide that outlines all the steps that we talked about, which is the best way, the fastest way to get out of burnout, and you can find it here.

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