One of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Kalu Yala was to heal emotionally from my previous two burnouts. I longed to be surrounded by nature everyday, to sleep outside, to be disconnected from technology, and to be only in one place. Kalu Yala provided this environment my soul needed to restore and even more, gave me a community that prioritized self-care.

I remember it was week three of my internship, and after being surrounded by people who were so passionate about their work, I started wondering when I would get that passion back for the things I cared about. A couple days later, I met a journalist from Haiti. I briefly mentioned how I had experienced burnout and I was wondering when I would get my passion back. She told me, “One day it will just come and you won’t even realize it. But it will take time. Clinically, it takes two years to heal from a burnout.” This was exactly what I needed to hear at that point of my life. Then, during the Hatch conference, Narkis Alon gave a talk about restoratives. This talk was also exactly what I needed to hear.

Photo by Courtney Frazee of Narkis Alon

I needed to learn to incorporate restoratives into my routine and what restoratives are. Restoratives should free you of any demands, be compatible to you, and they have to fascinate you. As she was speaking, I knew hiking was my restorative. Hiking is when I feel like I am on top of the world, time passes by quickly, and I feel the most alive. So what is a restorative for you?

Back in Portland, I made goals to go hiking once a week, then every two weeks, and now it’s more like at least once a month. I still struggle with not letting self-care slip away into the perceived busyness and other priorities. But, I’ve made progress since a year ago. Instead of letting work control me, I control work. I decide when to call it quits for the day. By setting boundaries of when to start and end work, I’ve given myself the freedom to not plan, to not do, and instead, to just be.

One of the most known feelings to me in Kalu Yala was feeling overwhelmed, all from good things, it was just so much. A point came when I decided to talk to our counselor, maybe she could help me out and somehow takeaway it away. Well, she told me one of the greatest advices in decision making. “Ask yourself, what do you need versus what do you want?” We often neglect our soul's needs because we want to satisfy our surface desires. However, we truly won’t be able to be our 100% best selves until we start attending to our deeper needs first. Then, we will show up emotionally healthier to our wants. I still struggle with becoming easily overwhelmed. But, I’ve given myself permission to say no more often. We are doing ourselves a disfavor and our guest a disfavor when we show up, but are not present. Take care of your soul's needs so you can be fully present.

Also, I learned to be okay with, and embrace going with the flow. I am a Type A planner. However, I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even make plans for our Panama City weekend trips. I had no choice but to go with the flow, and I loved it. Since coming back to Portland, I’ve been intentional to be mindful of living in flow and to be okay with uncertainty. It's not perfect. I still worry and come back home too late and over-schedule myself. I constantly need to check the alignment of my values and my rhythms.

Our environment is another contributor to whether we emotionally heal or whether we become sick. I believe I was able to progress in my healing of burnout because:

1. I was living without internet and technology.

2. I was surrounded in nature

3. I slept under the stars

4. I walked barefoot

5. I took “showers” in the river

6. I ate nutritious and delicious meals

7. I was physically active - working with my hands instead of my mind

8. I was surrounded by a loving, caring, fun, and kind community

We cannot heal in the same environment that made us sick. Surround yourself with loving, inspiring, caring, energizing, and kind people. Who we surround ourselves with is who we become. There is something healing about living in a community instead of living an isolated and individualistic lifestyle.

Bottom line:

Seek out your friends and family, make new friends and family, or forgive friends and family who help you grow and become your best self.

Incorporate restoratives into your routine.

Spend time in nature.

Set boundaries.

And say no.

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