Episode 5 | Overcoming Burnout

Dec 5, 2022

Description:  Stories about burnout and ways we think will help you avoid it. It’s a busy season so we’re sharing our experiences with burnout and ways to stay resilient. We hope you find some joy and peace amidst all the plans and planning. Grab your tea for some cozy convos!


The Bear and the Hare, 2013


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Kerri: Hello and welcome to the Flourish and Friends podcast. Happy December! I’m your host, Kerri, and I’m here with my friend and collaborator, Esther.

Esther: Hey friends!

Kerri: We got our tea. You know, we’re getting all cozy. Our goal for this podcast is to create an avenue for our Flourish community to gather around important conversations that lead to more growth and flourishing.

Esther: Yeah, nothing is really off the table because how we lead our lives spills into how we lead at work, and overall, our brand reflects that, especially as creatives.

Kerri: Tis the season. It is a very busy time of year. We’re chatting about how to quote unquote, beat burnout personally and professionally during this very full time of year. But first, let’s start with some fun things that are giving us life. 


Kerri: Esther, why don’t you start this week? What’s your fresh pick? 

Esther: So I’m going with something very practical. I bought this camping table recently. It’s foldable, it’s lightweight, it has adjustable legs, so you can have multiple heights. It’s really handy. 

As some of you might know, I don’t have a lot of furniture in our house, so having this table to like put in different rooms when I need it. I also bought it as a portable table for like photos, so when I go into restaurants or places I take it. It’s super light. It’s very practical. The one I bought is from Kmart. Kmart is

Kerri: They have Kmart there?!

Esther: Yeah, that’s I know. Kmart is alive and well in Australia. Target is kind of struggling though.

Kerri: That is shocking to me. That is fascinating.

Esther: Yeah, so there’s way more Kmarts here.

Kerri: I know you, I know you don’t have a car. So is this table something you like, strap on your back or are you, Do you borrow a car when you need to go to a shoot?

Esther: So it has a handle. I can carry it. I have enough in my backpack. I have a camera, my tripods attached to it I have my laptop. It gets really heavy. I don’t know, this is a bit too wide to attach to my backpack, but I was walking by. They have this store called the Big W. It’s basically a Walmart. Yeah. Haha

Kerri: The Big W? Haha

Esther: Yeah and there was this camping cart that folds. I saw a lot of people use them back home, but was wondering maybe I should get one of those for hauling my gear around so I don’t have to carry it on my back. But that would mean again, I would need to walk somewhere. I wouldn’t be able to get that on the tram.

Kerri: Mm.

Esther: So  yeah, it, it can be kind of tricky haul all my stuff somewhere without a car, for sure. Anyways, what is your fresh pick this week, Kerri?

Kerri: Mine is an electric lighter. I just discovered these this fall, this winter. Do you know what this is? Electric lighter. Do you have one?

Esther: Uh not specifically, no.

Kerri: Ok think of a lighter for a candle. Your typical lighter, you push a button, then you pull a thing and then the, I don’t know if it has like gas or whatever comes out.

So an electric lighter is rechargeable and I don’t know how the science works, but you basically just push a button and these two, light lasers just start like going and then it lights. It creates fire, so then you can light your candle. I almost called it a can-del. You can light your candle, and it’s wonderful because I feel like it’s a lot more sustainable because we had just been buying lighters Plastic lighters and we kept running out. So this is nice for candles. I would, I will say it’s not fireplace friendly or like if you were lighting a bonfire or something cuz it’s really small, like the spark is pretty small. So good for candles, not for fires, but it’s been awesome. I’ve already recharged it a couple of times.

It works great and it’s a nice, just handy little, handy little item to have. So if you’re not doing lava rocks, like Esther, you go back to episode one and hear about that , if you’re doing candles this is a nice, nice little, little thing. I call it an electric lighter. It might have a different name, but yeah.

Esther: That’s great. I love that you found that. Well we’re gonna take a quick break and grab something to sip on and when we come we will get into today’s topic, Overcoming burnout. 


Kerri: Well, to get us started with talking about burnout, which is a pretty big topic, and I’m sure every single human has experienced burnout at some point in their life. We thought it might be kind of nice to share a personal story of burnout just to frame the conversation and yeah. Esther, what, what’s a time where you’ve experienced burnout in your life?

Esther: I would say most recently I think a couple years ago, I was feeling pulled in multiple directions and with work pressure. I believe it was the year 2020, umm and..

Kerri: Tough year.

Esther: And I was thrown into being a freelancer. After being a long term contract worker for Hallmark, and so all of a sudden I was expected to find work. And then our church, we continued to do like outreach and so since I didn’t have much work. I kind of threw myself into our non-profit and started doing their socials and going and taking photos for them. 

And I was, when we started opening back up in Kansas City around August, it started to feel like things were adding up a lot. I then was doing a lot of volunteering then also starting back with more work. Felt like I didn’t have much time to focus on finding work. And then obviously, you feel the pressure it strains on your relationships. And so I think there was a time where I kind of sat down and realized that I needed to pull something out or reduce something which I did end up doing. Very glad we did that because umm you know, we entered a really hard season that Fall with some family things. So that was probably the most recent time I experienced. I would say that we, or I experienced burnout.

Kerri: Mm hm. Thanks for sharing that. I’m sure, like I just find that your experience is really relatable, especially being kind of during the season of the pandemic too. I think a lot of us have had just our world really changed and shifted in the past three years, and so it might be even more fresh on a lot of people’s minds than in any other,

Esther: mm.

Kerri: Any other stretch of time in human history. So I’m glad we’re, I’m glad we’re chatting about it. And just so folks know that obviously you’re not alone and. 

Yeah, I’m happy to share my story. I think a time that I felt it most acutely for me was several years ago. It was shortly after Ethan and I got married and I was wrapping up my graduate research at Mizzou for the journalism school, and it was just a really stressful and demotivating time, which is pretty rare for me. I’ve typically always find some sort of nugget of motivation, somewhere in there,

Esther: Mm-hmm.

Kerri: But this, it was just so many transitions at once. Transitioning, being married, transitioning to basically what in the program I was in, you went from taking classes and doing project work to, to, all right, you’re on your own now, finish this research paper and then present and defend your research in December. 

And so it was just a really long stretch of time to like think about what I was gonna put in this paper. Was it gonna be good enough? Was I even doing it right? Like I didn’t feel like I had structure at all. It was just very transient. And then like we moved, and then I was also starting work, so I was starting professional work and it was just balancing a lot of things at once.

And it got to the point where I almost quit. I like had some pretty serious conversations with Ethan about like, this isn’t worth it. And like I, do I need to keep doing this for a piece of paper because I was just so, I don’t even know if stress is the right word. I was just burning out. Like I just did not have, have any motivation.

So kind of end of the story was, once we kind of got settled into our new city, A bit of a new routine. I found the things that I needed to do to finish that paper, which included commuting from our home back up to the university, 40 minutes, to sit in a library, cuz that was the space where I felt like I could really focus, but really do the work that I needed to do.

And Ethan, my husband, was really instrumental in that too, cuz hw basically said like, This is a hoop and you’ve just gotta jump through it too. because you’ve already done all the work. Like every other piece. I had kind of checked the box. I had jumped through all of the hoops except this one last thing.

So having his support in encouragement was massive.

Esther: That’s awesome to have in a partner. I think I found that too, when you’re going through these feelings of overwhelm, having that person that is witnessing all of it to be like,

Kerri: Mm-hmm.

Esther: Give you some outside perspective is great.

Kerri: Absolutely. Yeah. We’d love to share a few tips from each of us. Esther, do you wanna just share given your story and different seasons you’ve been in, what you kind of see as some thoughtful approaches for burnout?

Esther: Yeah. I can think back to just that time and the thing that I started with was just a priorities list and asking myself questions. What has to be done, what can’t I avoid? I do have an avoidance personality, and if I don’t enjoy something or I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on it, I’ll, I’ll just procrastinate. 

So writing clear. This needs to be done. I’m the only one that can do it. Right? And then um, also writing down what I want to do, what brings me joy and fulfillment in my work or in my life. What fuels me, those sorts of things. And then thirdly is what is expected of me? 

And kind of with that piece, you kind of have to evaluate what’s expected of you and you should fulfill so like, In relationships. there’s certain things that are expected of you if you are a wife, and there’s also certain things expected of you as a parent. So those are good expectations, right? And those are healthy expectations that we should evaluate. But then there’s all these external expectations that we put on ourselves from either. Social media or other people’s expectations that aren’t healthy. And so shedding those is really good. 

So evaluating my priorities has always, helped me whenever I start feeling overwhelmed. And then gratitude. I know we talk a lot about gratitude and it’s just so helpful because when we focus on what we’re grateful for, it helps, improve our mood and then also our outlook becomes way more optimistic. We realize that there is still good and there is, a bit, of things to even to look forward to. We start to translate that into the future, not just the past. 

And then thirdly, I would add, just finding rest in those in-between moments not relying on those weeks of vacation. But for me, what’s been really helpful is like just valuing my time. So if I have a break or if I don’t have a break, Fitting in like five to 10 minutes where I can sit and be with myself and refocus, recenter myself has been really helpful. And it can be if you do have time throughout the week, it can be something like reading a book, going to the park, things like that that don’t involve taking time off work. So, I think those would be my top three. 

Kerri: Going back to gratitude, did you find what, like how do you approach gratitude? Oh, I know some people do like writing out gratitude, or some people are more sharing or combination or something different. Like what, what does that sort of look like for you?

Esther: I wouldn’t say, well, I’m a, a prayerful person, so I think in prayer I bring gratitude. And then also writing but I’m not as consistent and in writing, so either one, has, has brought that same. I think writing is the same as speaking in my mind, it’s getting things out you know?

Kerri: Same. Yeah. Totally. I feel like when you’re in the thick of it, that it’s very easy to, like, the burnout can create kind of a, a suck and a drain that you aren’t gonna go straight to gratitude right away. Like the cert life circumstances have kind of swirled around so much so that you’re not going to remember to be, pause and step out and be grateful. 

So I love that. And just like finding those pockets of time to do that in maybe those resting in between moments, like you mentioned throughout the day. We don’t have to wait for a huge chunk of time. We can embed that in our, in our days in this season, when we’re, we have a lot going on.

You know, it’s December. There’s different social events, family events, opportunities are everywhere. Finding those in between times.

Esther: Yeah, definitely. What about you? What are some things that have helped you?

Kerri: For me, first, I think naming the root of the burnout is really powerful. Sometimes we kind of just embrace this like, Oh, burnout is just gonna happen, or in this season it’s end of year, it’s just gonna be crazy. And there just really is a different way to approach it. We don’t have to necessarily buy into that cultural narrative.

So if you are feeling burnt out or when I am feeling burnt out, Taking the time to name, okay, why, What, what piece of my life like you did in your story. Kind of stepping back and saying, what can I take away that allows us to really have an opportunity to do something about it? 

Cuz we have to name it first. And often, sometimes it’s even a bit deeper than we realize. When I go back to my story of that time of burnout, it wasn’t just that I didn’t wanna write the research paper, it was that I had fear that I was gonna present my paper and they were gonna say no, you know?

Esther: Mmhmm.

Kerri: So being able to name what that real root of the thing that might cause, be causing me to either be burnout out or drag my feet can be really helpful.

I think my second tip would be to prioritize ourselves. And a big part of this in this season is knowing our yeses and our no’s because the opportunity and the amount of invitations just exponentially increase this time of year. So knowing that we can say no, but also what we’re saying yes to.

Do we wanna have more margin in this season or am I saying yes to a longer holiday vacation? So I wanna be able to prepare for that and work ahead, that sort of thing. And in work, especially having those boundaries, being okay with saying no to whether it’s our colleagues or our leaders or our clients, knowing that we’re not gonna be able to do all the things in this last month or these last couple of weeks. I know some people start taking off, as you know, maybe all of December or part of December. So having those boundaries and communicating them, and we’re gonna talk about that in an upcoming episode too. Just how to really prepare well for taking time off during the holiday season. 

And part of prioritizing you is we know ourselves. So we’ve been in a holiday season maybe several years before, and we kind of know what is gonna stress us out the most. Or what can lead to our burnout. So once we’ve named it, how can we build-in buffer or how can we anticipate and either reduce it or do something about it, or kind of build in, basically build in kind of a resilience plan or strategy for whatever it’s going to be. So that would be my second tip. 

And then of course, my third tip would be giving ourselves grace and just asking for what we need. What is it that we need? What do we need to thrive? What do I need to take time off professionally? What can I cut? And in this season, really embracing that mentality of we’re works in progresses and we don’t have to be perfect. You know, that piece of content does not have to be perfect. Maybe we can say even no to some of the things that we had planned or we can just get them done. We don’t have to let done be, the enemy or what’s the phrase? I think it’s good. Don’t let good be the perfect. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Okay, there, I got it.

Esther: Yes you got it haha.

Kerri: I was gonna get there eventually, but just having that grace for ourselves. And then I always like to flip and say to each other too, so when you have the person coming to you saying the no or, or explaining the boundary to really respect that, or at least be curious about it and not go straight into reactive mode.

So, yeah, those are just a few. Just a few of the things that I try to think through in these next couple of weeks that are really busy.

Esther: Yeah, I think that’s really helpful people that are leading a team and uh, even solopreneurs who are feeling the weight of, basically the buck stops with me. Like if I don’t put in the work, then I don’t get paid. And um, sitting in those boundaries is so healthy because we can so easily slip into a moment of overworking ourselves, especially in these times when there’s so much opportunity for work. 

Saying no is just as healthy. And think also like not getting greedy, right? sometimes we can get greedy and be like, Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And then on the other end, we weren’t thinking of our future self. We were just like just adding, adding, adding,

Kerri: Yeah. Like be realistic. Like how can we be realistic with ourselves and not overestimate how much energy we’re gonna have right now ? So I tend to do that. I think like, oh yeah, I start the day with 10 tasks, but realistically it’s like the big one that I need to get done.

Esther: Right.

Kerri: So having that, like you were saying, it was a great phrase. Oh, Don’t be greedy. I love that.

Esther: Yeah. Don’t be greedy.

Kerri: Love it. I would say my bonus tip would be having those cheerleaders, the people who can see you in the season, see you in every season, whether it’s a good friend or a family member, or your partner. Just be able to, when I say like, ask for what you need, like ask those people or, or use them as a sounding board and have that, those relationships in your life that can help you build capacity.

Esther: That’s great. And Let’s think of our journey a long one. So we want longevity productivity and so. These are all just ways to create sustainability within ourselves as working beings, but also human beings.

Kerri: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.

Esther: That create balance. And yeah. We would love to hear maybe your experiences with burnout, what you learn from them. What, pieces of advice you would have as someone who’s gone through it and maybe even. I’m sure some of us struggle with recurring burnout just like this time of year. It could happen every season or at a certain time when there’s a lot of pressure. 

So any questions you have for us, we would love to answer those as well. But I think this was a really great, and important conversation to have uh, especially as we are creatives and leaders as we, we go into the end of year and uh, the beginning of the new year, so thanks, Kerri, for everything you add to this pod all your experience and everything.

Kerri: Same to you, and I would just put a nugget in about, maybe it’s still early in the month, you could also take some time to journal out, anticipation of, of the things we talked about, you know, where, what are the. The key things I need to keep my eye on, or at least voice in my key relationships, and have that time for reflection.

And you can kind of create your, create your plan from there. Create your own personal resilience plan for your brand, for your life, for your relationships. 


Kerri: Okay, time for some bookmarks. Esther, you wanna share yours first?

Esther: Sure. have a two-parter. It’s two podcasts that are very short episodes, and so I feel like it’s okay to share both of them. The first one is Poetry Unbound, hosted by Padraig Ó Tuama. He is beautiful Irish voice. He talks about these poems that he chooses and then he reads them. It’s a good like eight minutes of just poetry, all types of poetry as well. So definitely check that out if you’re into poetry. 

And then also, Morgan Harper Nichols Podcast. referencing like burnout. This was a really good, podcast for me to listen to of affirmations and just refocusing and choosing what to think about. And so she does a lot of really great just spoken word. Sometimes it’s just an encouragement. But her podcast is really great. And those are about five minute episodes too. We’ll link those in the show notes.

Kerri: I follow her on Instagram, but I haven’t listened to her podcast yet, so this is a good recommendation. I love the good affirmations too. So powerful

Esther: Yes. What about you? What’s your bookmark this week?

Kerri: Mine is getting us in the holiday spirit. It is an advertisement uh, and I don’t watch very many ads. I like to skip ad, as soon as possible, typically. But this is a throwback from, it’s a British department store called John Lewis. If I say those words and you know exactly what I’m talking about, then yay.

If not, they’re a British department store and they have these like iconic Christmas ads that are really highly produced that they put on. I’m sure they just like broadcast in the uk, but they put ’em on YouTube too. And this one is from 2013. It’s called the Bear in the Hare and it features a song called Somewhere Only We Know.

But it’s the cover from Lily Allen and it’s just the sweetest video. I dare you to watch it and not cry. And I love that it’s, it’s animated in like the old school Disney, like 2D animation style. So it was really fun for me to see that. Cause I, I kind of miss that. Like I, I’m with all of the computer 3D graphics.

It just was cool to see the sketch. Anyway, it’s, I won’t ruin what it’s about, but it’s only a couple minutes long. And I would say the theme is all about belonging and the warm fuzzies. So check out that ad.

Esther: I definitely will. I need to get in the Christmas spirit.

Kerri: Never too early.

Esther: Yes..


Kerri: Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to check out flourishcreative.co/podcast to see the show notes. 

Esther: We’d love to hear from you. You can send us a note or even topics that you’d be interested in listening to, to hello@flourishcreative.co. And be sure to tag us on Instagram while you’re listening @flourishcreativeco. And of course, feel free to leave a review wherever you’re listening. This helps new friends discover our podcast and join our community.

Kerri: Thanks again, and until next time, live well and flourish.

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