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How do you handle burnout? We have all asked that question at some point because modern society has a lot of demands, and it's become too easy to feel overwhelmed. But what if there was a free and accessible tool that could help you turn towards yourself again, away from overstimulation and crazy schedules? In this episode, I will share with you my own experience with deep depression and severe burnout, and how I found healing through making major life shifts centered around spending more time in and with nature.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [00:24] Maria shares her experience with depression and severe burnout over the past three years
  • [01:54] Plants are a great way to reconnect with a part of ourselves that modern society ignores
  • [10:24] How is burnout defined?
  • [12:27] How do you recover from burnout?
  • [13:25] What is Attention Restoration Theory?
  • [14:23] First type of attention: Directed Attention
  • [14:37] Second type of attention: Involuntary Attention (aka fascination)
  • [16:10] Involuntary attention practices to help you find balance in life
  • [16:14] Look at a plant before you look at your screen
  • [18:00] Thank the trees
  • [18:36] Pair it with gratitude
  • [19:25] Ritualize engaging with nature
  • [22:54] Go outside
  • [23:02] Forest bathing and its benefits
  • [25:51] Mental health walks
  • [26:44] Get your bare feet on the earth (aka grounding/earthing)
  • [28:36] Practice mindfulness through plant care
  • [30:53] Lean into scent
  • [33:24] Two different types of plants for healing purposes
  • [33:38] Slow burn plants
  • [35:57] Quick win plants
  • [38:23] Pruning back to inspire growth


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What is Burnout?

Burnout is simply when we prioritize everything and everyone around us, neglecting ourselves in the process. As a result, we disconnect from ourselves and the world. The truth is many of us end up here because we focus too much on external factors, whether it's seeking validation or dealing with life's challenges.

So… how do we heal from burnout? This is where our beloved plants come into play, plant friends!


Attention Restoration Theory

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the practices, let's talk about Attention Restoration Theory first. This theory states that there are two different types of attention: involuntary and directed. Involuntary attention is effortless, lasts for a long time, and is super restorative. Directed attention, on the other hand, takes effort and is voluntary.

To feel calm and balanced, we need to balance these two throughout the day. When you feel burned out or mentally exhausted, it could mean that you're using too much directed attention and not enough involuntary attention.


Practices to Help You Overcome Burnout
(with the help of nature and plants!)

1. Look at a Plant Before You Look at a Screen

The first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning should not be to reach for your phone and engage with the screen. Why not try looking at a plant? This simple idea is incredibly powerful as it allows you to have a moment alone with yourself in the morning, and it helps you start your day on a positive note.


2. Spend Time in Nature

Spending time in nature is very restorative. So why don’t you try going for a walk, or a hike, or just sit outside and enjoy the fresh air? Try getting outside to reconnect with yourself and the world!


3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of being present—of being aware of what's happening at the moment. This can help you overcome burnout. Take a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness. You can do this by doing a guided meditation or simply focusing on your breath.


4. Be Grateful

We’ve all got to count our blessings! Take a moment to appreciate the things you have. Whether it's the roof over your head, the love of your family, or simply the joy of being alive, gratitude sets the stage for a fantastic day ahead.


5. Ritualize Engaging With Nature

We're not talking about complicated ceremonies here. One idea is to create a plant care/self-care routine. Carve out a specific time each day to connect with your plants. It's not just about watering them, though. Be mindful! Feel the soil between your fingertips, wipe your plant's leaves, and take a moment to admire their beauty. It's like a mini-meditation session with your plants.


6. Go Outside

Spending time in nature is a great way to restore your balance. Consider forest bathing, going for post-rain walks to enjoy the benefits of petrichor (a compound released by bacteria in soil that smells when wet), or simply walking to get your bare feet on the earth (aka grounding).


7. Lean Into Scent

Scent is personal, and different scents can have different effects on people. For example, lavender, chamomile, and jasmine have calming and soothing aromas, while rosemary and eucalyptus tend to be more revitalizing. You can use essential oils, grow your own herbs, or have scented house plants like Hoya or orchids. These things are very therapeutic, plant friends!


8. Grow Slow Burn Plants

Grow what are called “slow-growing plants”. These tend to be houseplants, but plants that maybe grow a few leaves a year – BUT they are growing. We are always growing, and having plants in our home is a way to trigger that reminder.


9. Grow Quick Win Plants

Some days, life can feel heavy and we need a quick pick-me-up. Quick win plants can help lift us up during those low moments by offering an experience of growth and transformation. If you're not into starting seeds, you can still enjoy the growth process by forcing bulbs. You can buy tulips, paperwhites, hyacinths, or daffodils from the garden center. Plant them in a vase with pebbles, water them, and watch them grow.


10. Pruning Back to Inspire Growth

Sometimes we have to prune back to grow. This is true for plants as well as for ourselves. Pruning back can feel scary, but it's an important step in the growth process. When you prune back, you create space for new growth and new possibilities.

You can overcome burnout and restore your sense of well-being by incorporating these practices into your day and spending time with plants. So get outside, breathe deeply, and let nature heal you.


Mentioned in our conversation:



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