Breanna Rose | Burn Out Recovery | Photo From Paloma Wool

After I graduated from design school, I unknowingly set myself on a path towards serious burn out, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Day after day, night after night, I continually put myself out there, made long lasting connections, and ramped up my blogging as much as I could. All in the name of “success.” And it worked. I started getting serious clients, made more money than I needed, and quickly became addicted to my career at only 23 years old. At that point, I didn’t realize the quiet warning signs telling me to slow down. So I kept going, striving towards goals I thought I wanted for me + my business.

Then, one year ago, on just another normal day at the office (AKA, our spare bedroom), I felt a surge of pain creep up my back and move into my neck and shoulders. I brushed it off as just a “tweak,” not realizing that complete burn out was getting ready to settle in and stay awhile. For weeks, I tried pain meds, new postures, and even started going to the chiropractor, all of which only helped a little bit. They were all surface changes, when really, what I needed was a lifestyle change. But of course, I didn’t quite “get it” yet. I kept my schedule overflowing with clients while simultaneously planning a wedding, online workshop, and a trip overseas. My focus remained strong, but my body was completely falling apart. And it was 100% my own fault. I promised myself that I would slow down after our wedding, but couldn’t quite commit once the time came. I kept going going going, afraid of what it meant to slow down.

A few months after our wedding, my so-called burn out reached it’s peak. As soon as I’d sit in front of my computer for the day, my back pain would ignite making it almost impossible to work. Most days, I’d end up on the floor of my office in tears after just 30 minutes of trying. To be honest, I feel a little bit like a fraud for sharing this with you all, knowing full well that I brought it on myself and there are other’s who deal with much more serious issues each and every day. But burn out does happen, and I wanted to share my story.

On February 4th (I know that date because I instagrammed about it all nonchalantly), I decided that I was over it and ready to make some drastic changes. A few people recommended that I try Yoga With Adriene, while another gave me the name of a local chiropractor that aimed to heel their patients long term. That afternoon, I made an appointment for the next day. And that evening, I did my very first yoga practice ever. I also decreased my client intake, got more sleep, and allowed myself to work (much) shorter days.

Within a week, I could tell that things were changing. I practiced yoga every single day, for at least 30 minutes, but usually more. My chiropractor had me come in 2 times per week for the first month until I could handle more days in between appointments. But more importantly, I started shifting the way I looked at myself and my business. I no longer thought of “success” in terms of clients and money, but instead, gauged it on balance and my ability to be in the moment + follow my gut. To just be myself. It sounds a little hippy dippy, all of this yoga-ing and intention setting. But you wouldn’t get that exact vibe from me if we met in person. It’s more about being happier and lighter overall. And that’s exactly where I am.

Currently, I have the least amount of clients I’ve ever had. Old Bre would have been absolutely freaked out about this, but new Bre is just fine. I have so much gratitude for where I’m at and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. For the ability to take breaks and fly a plane overseas to eat gelato and pasta in Italy. For having a roof over my head. For having an amazing support system. And at the end of the day, I’m just happy to be here, enjoying life with the ones I love.

My new normal has given me the extra time I need to feel better and think about what direction I’d like to take my business. I’m working on getting extremely specific about what I want and do not want to do, realizing that I can mold my little studio into whatever I want it to be. There are no rules, really. ;) And for the sake of transparency, I’m hoping to share some of these choices with you along the way as I make them. Because why not? I miss sharing more on the blog and think it could open up a lot of insightful discussion. More soon (next week), I promise! ♥

  1. Steph says:

    I’ve been following your blog since the beginning of my graphic design career and you’re such an inspiration. Your helpful tips, inspiring photography, and warm heart are all so comforting in what seems to be the biggest transitional time of my life. I think you deserve a break! :) Take care.

    xo
    Steph

    http://www.iolablog.com/

    • breanna says:

      Thank you so much, I appreciate that more than you know. :) Wishing you ALL the best in your own transitions. Do what’s right for YOU! <3

  2. Laura says:

    I’ve already commented this on one of your posts but, everyone deserves a break from time to time! I’m a computer science student so I know what it feels like to sit in front of your computer all day long. I’ve had a horrible neck and shoulder pain for the past year so I might give yoga a try this summer, hopefully that will help! And I’m glad you’re feeling better now :) x

    Laura

    • breanna says:

      Definitely try Yoga! I was SO skeptical about it because in general, I’m an impatient person and the though of holding poses made me nervous. But I think it’s a huge reason why I feel more balanced now. I also have better posture when I sit, and can hold myself up much better instead of scrunch over. For that alone, yoga is worth it!

  3. Hey Bre, I really enjoyed reading this personal post. Enjoyed is probably the wrong word. I just want to say that I enjoy it when someone opens up so much via online media. I don’t know if I would be able to do so, I can imagine that this is not easy at all! So “chapeau” for your courage and thank you for sharing.

    • breanna says:

      Thanks Sarah, I always love seeing your name pop up around social media. :) I pushed publish on this post before I could stop myself, otherwise I’m not sure I would have. I think getting it out there is a way for me to continue on the journey and always be honest to myself.

      Have a wonderful day. <3

    • Thank you so much, it’s nice to hear that ;) And have a great day as well!

  4. I totally feel you. Sometimes the computer is just TOO MUCH to handle. Taking time away from it is so valuable! Glad you’re doing it!

    xo Rachael / The Paraders

    • breanna says:

      Yes!! When I went to the chiropractor for the first time, I was just like “I’m SO TERRIFIED of what will happen to my body after years in front of the computer.” But she reassured me that breaks and stretching and keeping my posture good would help ten fold. :)

    • Phew! Well at least you know you’re not totally out of luck! I’ve heard the same tips, but it’s so hard to remember to do those things when I’m working.

      Best of luck!

  5. Marlena says:

    Hey Bre, I totally feel you with the back pain situation… I am in the exact same situation now. I was a gymnast for the whole first half of my life, so my upper back pain started from that and then got worse as I spent countless hours sitting at a computer beginning from high school. I’ve been recommended yoga as well, though I can never get myself to actually DO it or remember to do it. Even when my back is in pain, I just shrug it off or lay down. I tried yoga with Adriene once and really liked it… maybe I should give it another go. It’s amazing that you’ve made these transitions and come to this realization. I hope I can do the same one day :)

    • breanna says:

      Yes, definitely give it another try! I started with one of the very basic “beginner yoga” videos, which basically felt like stretching. So it was way more attainable and I didn’t feel “yoga dumb,” haha. I kept doing the same begginer-esque videos for a few weeks until I felt stronger, than I started her “30 day yoga challenge,” completing all of it (and sometimes duplicating days). By the end (like 6 weeks later), my body saw SO MUCH improvement, it’s crazy.

      Sending good vibes your way! <3

    • Marlena says:

      Great to know! Thank you, Bre! I’ll have to give it a try…

  6. Daria says:

    This was so lovely to read. I’m currently 21 and am already feeling stressed but the pressure of focusing on your career and success constantly – I have always been driven to success, to work hard since an early age and lately I feel like it’s drained me and my focus needs to shift on more important things, like your loved ones and enjoying life the way it is. I am reading this book called “Everything that remains” by The Minimalists and it’s helped me a lot: I’d totally suggest it! :) x

    • breanna says:

      Thanks for the book recommendation!! I mean, it’s definitely okay to work hard for what you want + your goals, but there’s a fine line for taking it too far, which I definitely surpassed. Wishing you ONLY the best. You have so many good things ahead of you. :)

  7. Marianne says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve gone through a somewhat similar process, and am happy to be on the other side, feeling more balanced and accepting of my limits. With the crazy speed of the world these days I’m sure more and more people have to go through a breakdown of some sort until they break away from the immediacy of everything.

  8. Jenna says:

    Oh, I’ve so been there in all those ways. I’m glad you’re taking care of you. Be well!

  9. Erin says:

    Ahhh burnout is so messy, I’ve hit it several times, because apparently I never learn. I have also recently started doing yoga again though, and it helps so much doesn’t it? I’m still working through the work/life balance myself, but I’m hoping one ay I get there. I look forward to reading more from you on this :)

  10. Kelly Brito says:

    Thanks for sharing this story with us. I’m sure it will inspire a lot of people to take things slow and change their lifestyle to a healthier and slower routine. :)
    And I’m really happy for you that you are feeling better (hopefully, than ever!).

  11. Brittanny says:

    It’s great to hear that you’re doing better! I was overworking myself and got bronchitis three times in six months. Burnout is hella real and we have to take care of ourselves.

  12. Ansley says:

    Burnout is the biggest b****, mine got so bad a few months after graduating that within 2 days of deciding I needed a change I put almost everything I owned in a storage unit and moved to Colorado to be a ski bum. It was the best thing I could have done for myself, but definitely drastic haha; in so many ways I was really just running away. Props to you for being able to recognize when you hit your true limit and making the changes you needed to come back from it, that’s the hardest part. Glad you’re doing better and congratulations on making it to the other side! Hopefully I’ll get there soon too, it’s a long road back.

  13. Juliette says:

    Congrats for this new brilliant life of yours!
    We often forget life is more about LIFE, happiness, love and discovery than about succeeding at… What?

  14. Clarissa says:

    I started doing yoga again to deal with my anxiety and I love Yoga by Adrienne! It’s great to know yoga can do so much to calm down from stress, eh?

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  16. Elyse says:

    So happy to hear you are taking care of yourself! I work in advertising in Minneapolis and holy shit is it easy to succumb to that dangling carrot of “success.” In reality, you KNOW you are successful. You have rich, real relationships, a great eye, incredible technical skills and a strategic brain. Good for you for recognizing that something was wrong and working towards adjusting your work style. So happy for you!

  17. Hannah says:

    i needed to read this. thank you so much for sharing your story! i’m glad you were able to make some positive changes and adjust your outlook :) here’s hoping i can do the same!

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