Boundaries & Burnout in Burlington

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By Lindsay Warner

This is a recap of our town hall event held in Burlington, VT., on February 8, 2018.

It’s hard to live in Vermont in February. The days are still short, it’s still bitterly cold, and—compared to our neighbors to the south, spring is still a seriously long way off. It’s easy to get down on, well, pretty much everything.

Knowing that, we thought the time was ripe to host our next Ladies Get Paid town hall, and specifically, to focus on some strategies to get us through these last few months until spring. Powered by snacks from Garuka Bars, drinks by TOMGIRL Juice (more on founder Gabrielle Kammerer in a minute), and chocolate provided by Lake Champlain Chocolates, we jumped straight in to talk about setting boundaries and preventing burnout, even—or especially—when it feels harder than usual.

Moderated by LGP ambassador Kerri-Ann Jennings, we chatted candidly with four local ladies brave enough to share stories from the trenches—as well as to share the methods they used to pull themselves (and others) up toward a happier, more balanced life.

  • Allie West, therapist and founder of Clarity Counseling
  • Breana Lai, Test Kitchen Manager at EatingWell magazine
  • Diana Jennings Clayton, nurse practitioner at CHCB
  • Gabrielle Kammerer, TOMGIRL Juice

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:
    1. When you’re stressed, don't let go of the things that make you happy.
    When you’re mired in everyday frustrations, it’s too easy to concentrate only on the things that are causing your stress, and to let go of the things you enjoy the most. “When you let go of those things, you’re losing energy and missing out on joy!” says Allie West. “Pad the stress and the hard times with the things that make you happy.”

    2. Find your flow state. (And don’t feel badly if it’s not exercise!)
    When she’s frazzled, Diana Jennings Clayton loves sailing and skiing. Breana Lai runs with her dogs, plays tennis, and skis. But as a trained sommelier, Breana also likes unwinding with a glass of wine, while Gabrielle Kammerer writes in a daily journal. You don’t have to go for a 60-minute run to “take care of yourself.” Find what works for you—and do it without feeling guilty.

    3. Embrace boundaries—but break them sometimes, too. 
    When Gabrielle started thinking about the theme of boundaries and burnout, she started realizing that the boundaries in her life were mostly her own—and that they were holding her back. “My business had taken over my money, my time, my sleep. I had put boundaries around what I could or could not do—and I realized that I actually needed to remove some of those boundaries to let other people into my life.”

    4. You don’t always have to put a happy face on everything.
    It took admitting her challenges and frustrations to others for Gabrielle to finally find the support she needed to run her business, while Diana needed to to find a good work/life balance. “I sometimes want to completely remove the entire concept of “happy vibes only” from my life,” Allie admits. “If you completely avoid your feelings, you can’t share your stresses with anyone. You don’t have to put a happy face on everything.”

    5. “Remember that the antidote to burnout is authenticity.”
    Allie West’s former colleague actually coined that phrase, but nearly all of the panelists—and most of the women in the room, too—nodded in agreement. “Nearly all of the people in my immediate family are doctors or work in the medical field in some capacity,” Lai says. “I wanted to go to cooking school, not medical school. I work really hard at my job, and I love what I do. And I finally realized that I don’t have to justify that to anyone else in my family. The only thing that matters is that I’m happy and satisfied with the life I’ve created for myself.”
Claire Wasserman