Michelle, Susanne & Kristin connect this week over events in their lives as artists and the science behind the art. Creating space with the intention to shine a light on dark corners with the hope to support you. Come join us with no judgment. We are holding space to learn, laugh, and downright pointe at ourselves.
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Cultivating Happier Dancers with Michelle, Susanne & Kristin | What is burnout and how to avoid it.
Susanne: Welcome back to the show, Cultivating Happier Dancers before we are talking about our topic today, which is what is burnout and how can you prevent it? It’s a huge topic dear, to our heart, to for something in here. So, if you enjoy watching, watching this show and listening to our show, then we invite you to actually sign up to, to Danscend weekly newsletter. Like you get so much juicy information in there. You can go either to the Instagram page, to their website. You can go to the show notes. You can go to Pointe To Rise to my page, my personal page. You will find links everywhere. So, if this is really something that is good for you and really helping you, and if you can think of somebody that you can share it with and make a difference in their life.
Kristin: That’s talk about burnout. Okay. Oh my God. I’m happy storytime. I’m always, always happy to talk about burnout. So, Cultivating Happier Dancers is the podcast. How can we do that when we’re burnt-out spoiler alert. It’s not possible usually. So, I have a story. I feel like that’s not how I start. 98% of my sentences in life is I have a story. I have a story. And I know 99.9% of you listening will probably nod your head through all of this. I live in the US it’s 2020. It’s March and the COVID global pandemic is beginning to shut down all things. The college that I currently chair for that I was chairing for at the time of the dance department decides that we’re not coming back, and we need to figure out how to teach dance education online. And as the year goes on, you know, there’s back and forth between, do we, do we pull the dance classes and just do the academics because they’re easier online. Do we. Like, how do we do this? Do we make dancers dance in their living rooms and their bedrooms and their backyards and their basements and their driveways?
Is that better? Like how, how do we do this? Nobody knew what to do or how to do this. The whole world in an instant changed. And we all had to pivot and make our lives work in this digital space so much like everybody else my 2020 and even into 2021 were constantly spent in a state of anxiety, worry frustration.
I wasn’t sleeping at night because I was so worried about, am I making the right choice for my students? Are they getting a good education? Should we be asking them to dance like this? They’re going to get hurt. This is crazy. I was responding to emails from parents, from students from administrators, from faculty, from at like all the time, my phone was like this attached to my hip.
I was working from home. My husband was working from home. My toddler at the time was at home and I never left work because work was home. I was, we were all stuck in these walls, and I was just in this state of complete overwhelm and I was not replenishing what I was giving out. And I even in those moments of knowing that and logically, knowing that
I could not convince myself to step out of this bubble of burnout that I had entered. I knew I wasn’t a surgeon life was not in my hands, but it felt that way. My body was constantly just drained. I couldn’t sleep. My heart was racing. My blood pressure was sky-high. I would start shaking in the middle of the day and not because I had too much caffeine.
I was just so stressed out and stress begets more stress, right? Because all these things are connected. So, your mind space, can, it affect your thoughts, your thoughts affect your actions, your actions affect your mind. And it just it’s. I was in this loop. I was stuck in this loop and truth be told I’m still climbing and crawling my way out of it.
And we’re now in 2022. And it’s. It was a fast fall into it and it’s a slow crawl out of it, but I really work every day to make sure that I am replenishing what I give out and that’s really, hard to do because that means I cannot give of myself as much as I feel pressured to as much as I would like to. That’s something that I must work on for myself. Right. It’s creating those boundaries because there will be nothing left. If I continue in this cycle of burnout.
Michelle: I think you just told the story of many, many, many people. I don’t, you know, I think it’s, I think it’s helpful in all of this to know like we’re talking about it. Like you’re not alone. Like if you’re listening or watching or like we’re there, you’re there, we’re here together. We’re going to figure it out.
Susanne: It just brought me right back to my time in the studios and wherever you are, you know that it is just being asked of you to give, give, give, give, give, to, to tap into that cycle of consistent stress. Cause that’s how we tap into burnout. Without. Having the time giving yourself the time having the boundaries to replenish, because let’s be honest making Hmm, evolving, learning to teach. There are always two sides to it. It’s giving something and then you need to take something to otherwise you will get, and quickly to a point where you don’t have anything left to give. I want to insert something here before we get into the science of burnout.
Kristin: there is a change that has occurred over the last, I would say, four weeks in you. I’m seeing that you are more tapped into yourself and your own power and who you really want to be. Then I have seen before I’ve seen inklings, but it’s now like, oh, nothing can stop her anymore. And that must do, we get to that point when we understand that we need to take care of ourselves first and then once again, and then one more time. And I understand that it’s hard for women, for mothers, for teachers, because we think we’re here to save. It is our job to give all the time. And we have not learned, we don’t know what that looks like.
We feel selfish if we do. Take time for us and fill our cup. Tony Robbins always says, if you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself where you replenish, you don’t have a life. And I feel that dancers dance educators think that it is a bad thing. If we take care of ourselves, isn’t that, and this is my personal experience that it was always frowned upon.
Why are you taking a day off? Why are you doing that? Like, that’s bad. You can do that. And it’s time that we’re breaking that cycle. Like if it starts, with us right here right now, if it starts with you talking about burnout, it might not be a clinically proven illness right now. Well, that makes it, that I’d want to be.
So many people suffer from 24% more of people suffering from severe burnout in 2020 alone. Just because we were in this, in this new space where nobody knew what to do and how to do it. Right. And we thought we all must fix it without giving ourselves grace. So, let’s go back and get into. So, I have my resources from the calmer app. They have a huge blog and there is a huge write-up around burnout, how to prevent it. There are five phases of burnout and if you’re listening and are you really. We want to know more about that and perhaps also prevent your students from tapping into it because it is not worth a gold medal.
I’m telling you right now, it is not worth a gold medal. You’re not better because you have signs of burnout. So, burnout is the state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. And stress can look different for all of us. We respond differently to what’s coming at us.
It is our job, to see and to learn. Ourselves and how we react to certain things, how much we can basically take of certain things without tapping into a prolonged excessive amount of time where we’re being in that state of stress. It occurs when we feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands overwhelm by learning new things, being in situations where we feel.
Unsafe or insecure. Okay. Emotionally drained when we’re around people that perhaps are draining our energies that are draining the conversations that we shouldn’t have anymore. That’s how we emotionally drain ourselves. And if we don’t replenish that energy, we’re heading that way. As the stress continues, we begin to lose the interest and motivation that led us to take on certain roles in the first place.
I’m struggling to get out of bed in the morning, even though I love what I do, it’s harder for me to get there to actually be motivated. That’s an that’s a sign that’s like, oh, I’m not taking care of myself enough. Burnout reduces productivity and zaps our energy.
It leaves us feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. We talked a little bit about the mean girl syndrome in our last episode. So, check-in with the people that are perhaps being mean to others. Is that maybe because they’re also exhausted. Because that is, we don’t have the energy to tap into a positive mindset because seeing fear and what’s wrong in our world is our it’s our default.
That’s how we’re wired. That’s our 2-million-year-old brain at is still looking for survival, meaning looking for the danger out there. That’s what we’re tapping back into when we’re tired. Remember exhausted. There are five phases of burnout.
The first one is called the honeymoon phase, which I always thought had absolutely nothing to do with burnout, but. Here’s the thing, this is how we start the cycle, I would say. So, it is when we start undertaking new tasks and we start off with like were experiencing enjoy and the joy and satisfaction we’re committed to.
We have high energy and were creative. That’s especially true of when we take on new roles or have a new job or start a new class or whatever it is, that’s new in our life.
So, in this phase, we’re really tapping into all the energies that we can produce. Like hormones are being produced. That makes it make us feel better and more creative.
And the theory is that if we create good coping strategies at this stage, we can continue to stay in this honeymoon phase, meaning that if we really take care of ourselves, and that is to be defined by every single person that’s on whatever that is for you, you can stay in that phase.
You don’t have to go down to the rabbit hole and feel. Exhausted and low energy and get cynical. That’s the goal to stay there, to stay motivated, to stay full of energy. So, then the next one is just the onset of stress. The second stage of burnout begins with an awareness of that.
Some days are being more difficult than. We can all like somewhere, see ourselves there, right? You may find that your optimism is waning. You don’t always have that super positive mindset. And you notice that common stress symptoms affecting you physically, mentally, or emotionally high blood pressure inability to focus irritability like we’re, we’re reaching a little.
Scrapper to let’s say feedback, right? We’re not as satisfied. Lack of sleep is a big thing that comes in quickly. Lower productivity, anxiety not wanting to make decisions anymore. Fatigue, change of appetite and diet craving sweets more than not feeling like taking care of ourselves anymore and forgetfulness.
I just raise my hand. The next phase number three is chronic stress. We don’t want to get there. The third stage of burnout is chronic stress. This is marked quite a significant change in our stress level, going from motivation to experiencing stress on an incredibly frequent basis, meaning you are mostly in.
The cortisol output stage of like stress, stress, stress, like you said you also may experience some intense symptoms, then in the earlier stage on this set on. You don’t even want to buy into hobbies. Like all you can do is sit on your couch and watch TV missing deadlines, persistent tiredness.
You get sicker more often procrastination you’re late for work. You have no motivation, all of these little things where we actually judge, sometimes as employees, as employers would judge, like why is that person not coming to work on time? Why consistently be tired? Why is that girl or boy not showing up in class as motivated anymore?
Well, maybe they’re in a stage of burnout. So, ask the question. Number four. That’s where symptoms are becoming critical. When we continue with putting ourselves in stressful situations over and repeatedly, we think we’re doing the right thing.
This is when we’re heading into clear official burnout which means that it actually becomes increasingly harder for us to cope with anything that is within our environment. That means like even getting up I’m sure. You can relate, but who has felt like crying from the point of when you opened your eyes?
Like I’ve been there because I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t, I could not even think of.
Kristin: I dread going to sleep because I knew tomorrow would come where I’d have to do it all over again.
Susanne: What kind of a state are we in at that point? Like what are we able to produce or to give or to learn?
Like it’s not something that we can do. We just think it is being asked though, as we just think that, oh, the more tired I am, the, the more resilient I am and, the harder I can work or the longer, or the more stamina I build up and let’s not, I mean, no, it’s just a no, don’t just do not do that.
Other symptoms of, that actual stage are that you consistently pessimistic like you can’t even see the good in things anymore. You’re feeling empty inside. You withdraw yourself. Sometimes depression a little bit is coming in again, the crying repeatedly. You isolate yourself from everything physical.
Headache, stomach, digestion. These are all impacted by when we’re heading into that actual burnout stage, where we have had stress coming towards us for way, way too long. And the only way out of that is to stop everything and go restore your body. This means for me, it was always sleep. Like I just slept for days and days and days.
Then start your mental work again. Number five is, and I hope nobody ever gets there. It’s habitual burnout. That means when we’re consistently operating in that state of being unable to sleep crying every minute, something doesn’t go the way, we expected. We have nothing left to fight back and things become chronic, go meaning like sadness, depression, anxiety mental fatigue, physically being so tired and you actually can’t get yourself into shower anymore. And that is not something that I have experienced often. However, I’ve been there. And I can only tell you that.
If we allow ourselves to actually get to that stage, we have to really look at how much do we actually have in ourselves for ourselves. And in terms of love, compassion, worthiness, where are we at? Because if we allow ourselves to give so much for everybody else, and we’re not giving that same love to ourselves, there is something off and on the line.
Michelle: Fix that? Well, I mean, so here’s the thing, like, you know, we all think that, that the cure to burnout, like, you know, the social media and the world tells us that the cure to burnout is like, go spend like a week at the spa and then take care of yourself. And, you know, as a, as a person with you know, new company and job a young child, like.
I can’t take a day off. Like there’s no, there’s no world in which my kid, you know, I can’t feed my kid. Do you know what I mean? Like, so I think there are so many people that are feeling burnout that is feeling kind of trapped because they don’t have like a week to go to the spa. But in fact, like, it’s, easier, and it is more effective to take shorter, more frequent breaks. And for me, I’ve found that the easiest way to do it is to schedule it, literally schedule it, put it in my planner, like put it in my like, literally like here’s my half-hour. And then I call it mama time and I put it in our family’s calendar and then I’ll put it like a Kristin knows I put it in our company and Danscend calendar like.
It’s like, I’m going to be by myself and, and do something right now when you’re doing that, the temptation is to just zone out, scroll social media, the. Think about anything. There are so many studies. I love Andrew Huberman, who is a fantastic neuroscientist who talks about the benefits of sunlight on mood.
And it doesn’t have to be like some shiny Los Angeles. It’s like even just getting outside for a few minutes. Not only because here’s the problem with like the burnout is the. lack of sleep. And then the lack of sleep like it folds in on itself because you know, when we have a lack of sleep, we have fewer coping mechanisms.
We are, we are less prepared mentally and emotionally for all the things that are coming. Even just getting outside for 15, 20 minutes, getting some sunlight in your, in your retinas, which like goes to your brain will help your circadian rhythm. So, so literally scheduling it, putting it in your planner.
Getting outside for something, I like to go for a walk. I walked to the Starbucks, that’s a few blocks away. I get a coffee with soy milk, and I walk home. It makes a huge difference. The second thing we can do. Set an end time as dance teachers, we tend to always be available to our students and to our parents and to the choreographer that’s guesting or whatever.
Schedule end time, right? So, if you are, if you were teaching a class and you know that your students and the teachers are gonna want to, or students and parents are going to talk to you afterward, then you say, this is the time you can talk to me from 5:30 PM till 5:45 PM. I will be here, and I will be answering your questions at 5:45 PM. You step away like your time setting an end time for everything. So important even though I have a go-to-sleep alarm. Like my alarm goes off when it’s time for me to go to sleep because otherwise I’ll lay on my bed and I scroll-like, you know, the news and like read the news and like get all stressed out.
And then, so, so in short, like, If you are feeling burned out, or if you’re like Susanne said, like, you know, this is the time to set up, you know, to, to stave off burnout is not when you’re at stage five, you know, it’s when you’re at stage one and things are going great. And that’s when to set up, set up a time for yourself, and make sure your escape is like keeping it away.
It doesn’t, you know, if you can take a month and go to a yoga retreat and, you know, Indonesia, like Busta move. But if you can’t like 10 minutes, 15 minutes a day scheduled, because if you don’t schedule it, you won’t do it. Get outside, move your body will help immensely.
Susanne: I think we all should schedule a yoga retreat at least once a year, not to prevent or to recoup from burnout, but to, to like really get more accustomed with who we are, if I can, you know, I, Michelle is so true. That the thing is that we, this culture. You got to do more. You got to do more. You got to do more. You got to do more, and we never really put it into place, but how do we, like, we’re not something that you just plug in the wall and, and off you go like you got to like to restore yourself over and over and over again.
And not understanding that the output requires input. And we’re not really talking about what an input looks like and not paying attention to how certain things make us feel. If I don’t meditate. Well, good luck, everybody. Like, I don’t want to be around myself anymore if I don’t sit down and you’re like really going, and these are all things.
I think particularly in the dance industry have been overlooked for so many decades and how important they are. And therefore we’re talking about this burnout is not a medal of honor. It’s not something that’s going to get you to better roles. It’s not something that will have the teacher like you more.
Kristin: I was listening to just the last thought for me before we wrap up, I was listening to this. The person talking about being a mom. And I promise this has to do with being a dancer and just being a mom. And she was saying, you know, when, when people see moms sacrificing for their kids, oh, that’s such a good mom.
She’s such a good mom. When moms don’t take care of themselves for, oh, she’s such a good mom. When a mom leaves her child with a babysitter to go get her nails done or to go for a walk. Or she just needs time away. No one is looking at that person except for me and the people here. Most people are not looking at that woman and saying she is such a good mom.
Look at her care for herself. And it’s the same in the dance studio. We are not praising people who are taking time and setting those boundaries that we’ve heard about this entire episode. We just don’t the culture doesn’t. And that must flip because we are consistently churning out educators and dancers who are trying to win.
Most burnout awards because those are the kids that are getting the praise. Look how much they show up here. Look how much they sacrifice to be here. Look how much they do. And now here’s the thing. Yes. When a student doesn’t go to what they should go to because they’re tired, there are consequences. No one here is saying like, ignore the consequences if they miss rehearsal because they didn’t feel good.
There are consequences to that, but it doesn’t have to be, you should have been here. I always say to my students, I’m proud of you for making the decision that you thought was best for you period. And there are consequences that follow that. Of course, there are consequences to me drawing boundaries for myself.
I know that, right, but I don’t want to, I don’t as educators, we don’t need to. Throw that in the students let the consequences be, share that you’re proud of them for making the decision that they feel is best for them because you’re not them, you know, it’s easy to be like you should’ve been here and maybe that’s true sometimes.
Right? That is. But. We don’t know what they’re dealing with either.
So, if you’ve liked this episode, please, please, please share with people that you think are interested that could take the tips today and please implement them into your life. Let us know if they’re working, we love to hear feedback, share, share, share a comment, comment, comment. You can find our podcast, cultivating happier dancers.
We have more episodes coming out. Previous episodes, if you haven’t listened yet, please do. You can also head for more free resources about this stuff. You can go to Dancend.com where you can sign up for our newsletter. You can find Danscend at Danscend official. You can find Pointe To Rise which is holding this series right now, also on Instagram.
So find us, we are your tribe where your community share, and we hope to see you next time.
Okay, we’re sending you so much love. Thank you for being here. Thank you for always listening and till next time.
So much ❤ Susanne
Important Links to Danscend:
Hi. We’re Kristin & Michelle.
Kristin Deiss and Michelle Loucadoux have a shared sixty years in the dance industry. Both have worked extensively as professional dancers and are well-versed and experienced in the realm of dance education.
After working together in the education field for seven years, the idea of Danscend was born because of an overwhelming need that Deiss and Loucadoux observed in their students. No stranger to the need for mental health awareness, both creators wrestled with various issues in their professional dance careers as well.
In Danscend, Deiss and Loucadoux have created a resource that they wish was available when they were beginning their dance careers, a resource that will benefit not only their students but also the dance industry as a whole.