Burnout: You Don’t Have to Wait for the Revolution, to Feel Better

“Capitalism is not some external enemy that we must defeat and conquer; it is not a virus to our collective immune system. Capitalism is us. It is an autoimmune disease — our own social body attacking itself.”

Things you do can make a difference. My sister and I wrote a whole book about it — 65,000 words of what you can do, based on four decades of science. But I want to spend this article explaining why it’s not true that “because capitalism causes burnout, only revolution can cure it.” (Plus there are practical tips toward the end.)

  • Wellness is not a state of being, but a state of action. It is the freedom to move through the cycles and oscillations of being human — from stress to relaxation and back, from effort to rest and back, from connection to autonomy and back.
  • When you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, chances are what you need is rest. You can’t always get it, but it’s important to notice that the problem is not that your body or mind is “failing” but that it’s starving for rest. Explore your environment for strategies to add a little more rest to your life, and ask for help.
  • Listen to your body. Learn what signals it sends when it’s in distress. When it sends those signals, trust it and give it what it needs. That need will usually be some form of body movement, loving connection, rest, or creative self-expression.
  • Women and people of color do not need more productivity tools, they do not need more “grit,” they need more help. Give it.



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Emily Nagoski

Emily Nagoski

sex educator, author, researcher, and activist. also: nerd. http://go.ted.com/emilynagoski and @emilynagoski