Burnout by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski | Book Review

“We thrive when we have a positive goal to move towards, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from.”

The gap between what it’s really like to be a woman and what people expect women to be is a primary cause of burnout, because we exhaust ourselves trying to close the space between the two. How can you ‘love your body’ when everything around you tells you you’re inadequate? How do you ‘lean in’ at work when you’re already giving 110% and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy and too selfish?

This book explains why women experience burnout differently than men – and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions and live a more joyful life.

17. Burnout

The book begins by explaining the Human Giver Syndrome – the biggest cause of emotional exhaustion in women. This is characterised by a moral obligation to ‘give’ their humanity to the Human Beings – offer their time, attention, affection and bodies willingly, without demanding anything in return.

Dealing with stress is separate from dealing with the stressors that cause stress. It is important to differentiate the two. Stress is not bad for you; being stuck is harmful. The book elaborates what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle – and return your body to a state of relaxation.

Stress also causes frustration from not meeting your goals. The authors explain why in addition to defining a winning relationship with the goal, one must also redefine the goal’s relationship with failing and see the inadvertent benefits that come from not meeting targets. The key is to manage the ‘monitor’ in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration.

Women are expected to achieve an unattainable, aspirational, ideal look. The patriarchy has not only marketed this as the most beautiful but also the healthiest. Body types come in all shapes and sizes but starting from as young as six years of age, girls begin to show weight-control behaviour. It starts with chronic, low-level stress and grows into all forms of discrimination such as bullying, gender pay-gap and medical misdiagnoses. The solution to fight this exclusion and stigmatization is to tune into your body’s needs rather than blindly following society’s one-standard-fits-all mantra.

Humans need connection to create energy. We are not built to function autonomously but to oscillate between connection and autonomy. Similarly, we need productive periods of rest between work to recharge. Rest is not time wasted; rather, it improves overall efficiency. Rest can mean different things for different people. It could be sleep, idleness, or even exercise – whatever your body needs to set up a barrier against Human Giver Syndrome.

The book outlines a three-step process to break the stress cycle that leads to burnout.

  1. Identifying the resources one carries on their journey.
  2. Acknowledging the real enemy.
  3. Conquering the enemy with definitive changes made in everyday life.

This book not only identifies the research to back the science but the authors also include prescriptive advice and practical worksheets that can be tailored to your requirement as you chart your path to breaking your stress cycle.

While I felt the book was 60% bashing the patriarchy and about 40% actually breaking the stress cycle, the good parts do give some transformative advice that, along with reinstating self-compassion, makes it easier to derive joy while also being productive and feeling fulfilled.

Burnout: The secret to solving the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski. Published in 2019 by Vermilion, an imprint of Ebury Publishing, Penguin Random House UK.
 
Book 17 of 2022.
 
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.
 
Available on Amazon*.
 
About Photo: We all know what ‘Burnout’ is – how it plays with our emotions and makes everything crumble to dust when we’re caught in its clutches.
These burnt matchsticks indicate that there is a line of attack to prevent you from reaching a total burnout, the guidelines of which are explained in the book.
 
About the Authors: Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., is a sex educator and author of Come As You Are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life. Her job is to travel all over the world, training therapists, medical professionals, college students, and the general public about the science of women’s sexual wellbeing.
 
Amelia Nagoski, D.M.A. (it stands for Doctorate of Musical Arts), was an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music at Western New England University. Her job is to run around waving her arms and making funny noises and generally doing whatever it takes to help singers get in touch with their internal experience.
In that way, her work is very much like Emily’s. Emily’s Masters’ degree is in counseling and Amelia’s is in choral conducting; one day they realized they both got graduate degrees in how to listen and feel feelings, which maybe says something about their shared childhood?
They both live in New England with a variety of cats, dogs, and spouses. Yes, they’re twins. Yes, they’re identical. Yes, one time they pretended to be each other; it did not go well.
To know more, follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
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*Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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