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Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle

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This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.

277 pages, Hardcover

First published March 14, 2019

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About the author

Emily Nagoski

38 books1,865 followers
The official bio is:
"Emily Nagoski has a PhD in Health Behavior with a doctoral concentration in human sexuality from Indiana University (IU), and a master’s degree (also from IU) in Counseling, with a clinical internship at the Kinsey Institute Sexual Health Clinic. She has taught graduate and undergraduate classes in human sexuality, relationships and communication, stress management, and sex education."

What all that means, really, is that I am here to teach women to live with confidence and joy inside their bodies. It's a small goal in the grand scheme of things - I'm not trying to bring peace to the Middle East or repair the ozone layer - but it's a goal that I think truly does have the power to change lives and, ultimately, the world.

You can find me online:

Twitter @enagoski

Facebook Emily Nagoski

Medium @emilynagoski


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,218 reviews
Profile Image for Ginger.
429 reviews285 followers
June 12, 2019
As the authors would say, “ugh.”

No really, I counted about five “ughs” in the initial skim through of the book.

This felt not only whiny and unprofessional, but also as if they were setting me up not to take it seriously. Beyond that, it was hard to.

Everyone is talking about this, so while I don’t particularly relish giving something a poor review, I just don’t want you to rush out and buy it like I did without knowing what you’re getting into.

Firstly, the research presented throughout was... thin. They deliberately conflate their subjects, on the basis of making for a better story, but this highlights their faux dialogue and made me wonder, if women really are asking these questions, why they couldn’t quote the actual subjects? Why make up a make-believe narrative?
Secondly, the conclusion is that the cause of women’s stress is... the patriarchy. I’m serious. That’s their conclusion. Ok, even if I can buy into that. That does not explain why men would have stress. If the cause of our stress is that women are expected to give “every drop of your humanity” (and for the record, this feels like a lazy characterization of the male-female dynamic they’re getting at. There is nuance here. I know no man who expects the women in his life to give “every drop” of her humanity in support of them, no matter the cost). It felt cheap and capitalizing on the very real #metoo/#resist/#shepersisted moment, agenda-driven as opposed to actually dealing with stress problem. If you wanted to write a book decrying the patriarchy, fine. Do that. Just don’t disguise it as a book on how to deal with stress.
Finally, the tl;dr: sections. Call me old-fashioned, I just don’t really want cutesy stuff in my book when you’re touting a PhD on the cover. Not to mention I’m never here for your suggestion a reader might not read your own book.

Actually, I take it back. I’m glad those were at the end of each chapter because what they did well was to actually summarize their points there. So well, in fact, you really could drive yourself to the bookstore, stand in the aisle, and read those sections and you really would get the gist of the book.

I’ll save you the time for even that and tell you their best secret for dealing with stress. Get ready; it’s groundbreaking: exercise. Not that we’ve all known for years, decades, that moving your body is great for stress. That’s their big secret.

A few of their other secrets: plan problem-solving measures for what you can control. I know. Really groundbreaking stuff here. Stay positive about the things you can’t control. Or, give up! (I’m really serious here... I’m not making any of this up.) Find a larger meaning in life (but don’t be a “giver”—that’s where your stress is coming from!). See yourself as hot. (Again, I feel compelled to tell you I’m literally not making any of this up for comedic effect.) Connect (but remember, don’t give to much). Create a “bubble of love.” Don’t feel guilty about sleeping (exercise and sleep... groundbreaking). Keep a calendar. Deal with the cause of stress.

I am so sorry I’m seeing this book everywhere. I don’t think it will be helpful to women. It’s very discussable. It’s very enraging. It will sell well and be all over Instagram. And I just don’t think it’s going to do any good for any real women experiencing real stress. Their causes are flawed; their solutions are anything but groundbreaking. A dance party to Whitney Houston in your living room won’t change your stress. This read like the worst cliche of the genre. If The Onion had written a book about women’s stress, this would have been the result.
Profile Image for Trin.
1,741 reviews549 followers
January 9, 2019
This is a really well-intentioned book, and I think/hope it will be helpful to a lot of people. I think the authors' advice is generally very good. However, nothing in here was particularly new to me, nor presented in a way that especially resonated. In fact, I found the sort of Tumblr-y, fandom-lite writing style--"feels"! "tl;dr"! quoting Cassandra Clare, good god--to be a little too cutesy. Like, it was just a half-beat off rhythm from the kind of humor and #relatablecontent that does resonate with me, and that slight offness grated more than if this had been a cold and purely academic work.

I can definitely see the audience though, and I hope it helps them, because in general terms, I think the authors are spot on about why modern women are stressed the fuck out. (Hint: it's the patriarchy, stupid.)
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,910 reviews35.3k followers
March 27, 2019
Audiobook... read by the author.

When I first saw this perky pink- book - with the title
“Burnout”.... I was kidding - but not completely when I said... “Paul, I have a book for you”.
Paul looked at the title and said.... “stresses me out just looking at that book”.

I thought I would be nice and download it and see if I had any words of wisdom to pass on to my husband who is experiencing different degrees of burnout associated with his tired aching body, paperwork, and the state of our country.
Tossing out special Olympics for children- tossed my husband over the edge into depression.

So - I listen to many chapters while I was relaxing in our warm pool.
I repeat: I was ‘relaxed’ when listening to this Audiobook.
It didn’t take long until everything about this book was stressing me out. I found it completely annoying.
Much of the writing is semantics - a clever play on words and made up scenarios/ stories that we can relate to.... but do we need to have every little detail -people’s challenges- POUNDED INTO OUR HEADS? It’s exhausting.
A totally ineffective self help book.
There wasn’t an ounce of anything that wasn’t familiar.
This book wasn’t even close to offering clear effective solutions.
The big conclusion- The book isn’t about happiness… It’s about joy. The difference between the two words is that happiness are things that are happening...
Joy is a state of being...( basically our inner state of well-being).

Every chapter ‘stresses’ the stresses.
The givers of the world: teachers - nurses - mothers - all give too much.
What’s new about that?
We need connection... yes I agree -
So what? And your point is????

A very annoying stressful - draining experience. It’s a no-fun venting party of everything we all already know.
Dull and boring!!!!
I want my money back.

Paul was right... this book is guaranteed to stress you out.
It’s a health hazard.... ‘creating’ stress induced endorphins.

No way Jose! Not a fan!!!
Profile Image for Khurram.
1,536 reviews6,641 followers
February 15, 2023
It might be a feminist book but the idea do work for both genders

I would have given this book 5 stars, except Emily and Amelia are only talking to half the population. Yes many women have had life and choices (or lack of choices) and experienced hardship more then man over the year. Things are getting better but are not perfect yet, but as the ladies says everyone's experience is different and a whole gender should not be judged by the few or the worst examples of it.

I disagree with the premise that woman are naturally more giving it nicer then men. Let's use the body shaming example in this book, notice it was the women doing this to other woman. This happens a lot to boys straight from primary school, I have 3 boys and every day atleast one of them have come back to tell me a mean thing the girls said to them about their appearance or even background.

The shame of all this gender biased book is if that was taken out I would agree with 90% of the research and ideas in this book. The practical ideas would work just as well for either gender. However I think many men might be put off reading it after the introduction. I would qote Bruce Lee and say

"Take what is useful, and disregard what is not"

The reason being many of the ideas are very effective.

This is a great book of busting through the silent killer that is stress, if it was not so gender biased I would have no problem giving it 5 stars. I would say if you are going to put a book out to just half the population put it in the title before people buy the book.
Profile Image for Emma.
183 reviews24 followers
December 18, 2019
I was left feeling a bit confused after finishing this book. The title implies the book is about burn-out and how to solve your stress etc, but in reality the book was only about burnout and how to actaully handle stress for 10%, while the other 90% was filled with feministic chatter about how the patriarchy has caused your burnout or stress if you are a female-identifying person.

In my opinion there is absolutely nothing wrong with books about feminism, the patriarchy and how they may or may not affect stress and burnout in women, but if I pick up a book that’s called “Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle”, I don’t want to read about the patriarchy. I want to read about stress, and burnout, and maybe a small chapter about how the patriarchy may affect those things in women, but not 90% of the book devoted to that subject.

Nevertheless, the book was relatively enjoyable and easy to read, and I enjoyed the short TLDR sections at the end of every chapter to give a quick summary of everything that was discussed in the book.
Profile Image for Meagan.
1,317 reviews46 followers
February 16, 2019
This book is filled with so much information, and I’ve been obsessively recommending it and quoting it to just about every woman I know. It’s got so much good and general information about the stress cycle, and how to deal with it. (And anxiety, and burnout, and loneliness, and and and.) A lot of the information applies to all humans, but this book addresses the unique stress related to being a female-type person. None of that stress will be surprising to women, but this is the first time I can think of that I’ve gotten good advice about what to do about it. Good, science-based advice that doesn’t involve just taking a bubble bath, taking a deep breath, and plunging back into the fray.

In this intensely depressing moment of history, with Trump and Kavanaugh and Weinstein (and and and) this book made me feel a little hopeful. I’ll need to revisit it regularly, because it involves a lot of elements, but it rang true. I hope the women I know and love will read it. It’s so worth the time.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy!
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,163 followers
June 23, 2019
Someday I will look back on this time in my life and point to this book as when it all changed. Yes. It’s that good. I'm a huge fan of Emily Nagoski's Come As You Are. In it, she briefly explored unlocking the stress cycle and it gave me so much to think about. A whole book co-written with her sister dedicated to the topic? Music to my ears and boy, did it deliver.

The introduction and first chapter blew my mind, right from the get-go and it only got better from there. There are so many takeaways that I don’t even know where to start. The beauty of this book is the way the Nagoskis lay out their insights. The chapters build on each other in a way that allows you to digest the information but also figure out how to incorporate it in to your life.

I wish this book had existed 15 years ago! I don’t know if I’d still be a social worker but I would have managed my career differently. This book helped me see how it didn’t matter how airtight my self-care practices were and why burnout happened anyway. It also showed me why I’ve been exhausted the last few years, even though I have more margin than ever—I did not know to label my current experience as burnout but it makes so much sense. I have not done a good job of completing the stress cycle and now I have more ideas and tools on how to do that.

I also appreciate the way they name and call out the patriarchy. It’s a huge layer of what women experience and I hadn’t thought about the specific and pernicious ways it impacts burnout and my sense of well-being. Yes, I can point to the ways the patriarchy has negatively impacted my life and the complicated emotions I carry or are dragged up by the news. But since this is how it’s always been, even if the #metoo movement is starting to bring about some changes, I never thought about the year after year toll. It was so helpful and validating to read those sections and be reminded that it’s not okay.

One chapter I want to mention is The Bikini Industrial Complex, which taught me that the Body Mass Index (BMI) is complete junk. It was created by a panel of nine people, seven of whom were employed by weight loss clinics. WEIGHT LOSS CLINICS. This was infuriating to read about. I haven’t stopped railing against the lobbyists who sold us out and and every doctor who took junk science at face value and used it against their patients. Screw them all.

Clearly the book made me angry in places—stupid patriarchy. But it was also extremely moving and engaging. I laughed and I cried. Burnout was not just a game-changer. It was life-altering. Every person who identifies as a woman would benefit from reading it. I’m so grateful to Emily and Amelia for writing it.
Profile Image for Ashley  Brooks.
256 reviews16 followers
December 1, 2019
I'm in the minority here, but Burnout was just okay. The writing style made it hard for me to take the information seriously, or to even understand the information at all. Things like writing "(ugh)" every time they talked about the patriarchy or using cutesy, made-up words because the real science is just too hard to understand made me feel condescended to and a little rage-y. For two authors who are all about feminism, they underestimate the intelligence of their audience by a lot! That kind of junk would never be in a book marketed to men.

For that matter, it annoyed me that burnout and the stress cycle were presented as uniquely female problems. Many of the scenarios they presented about how burnout manifests resonated way more with my husband than they did with me. In the end, I didn't learn anything groundbreaking and I wondered on more than one occasion if I would have preferred this book if it had been written by a man, in a more straight-shooter style that doesn't dumb down the facts. Ironic.
Profile Image for lov2laf.
714 reviews1,044 followers
June 24, 2019
Emily and Amelia Nagoski are talented enough in their chosen fields but they missed their calling as professional audiobook narrators. They pack a lot of info and wisdom into their "Burnout" book but, very importantly, they are *really* fun to listen to.

This book is basically for any and every woman making their way through life and shoveling the shit that comes with it. I wouldn't say I'm burnt out but stressed? Hell, yes. This, along with Emily Nagoski's "Come As You Are" should be required reading. The world would be a happier place.

For those looking for a no nonsense, shoot from the hip self-help book specifically aimed at women and the extra challenges we face you've found it. The Nagoskis tackle topics such as stress and how to process it, body awareness and acceptance, gender discrimination, racial discrimination, finding meaning in life, and overall making you a better you. It's inclusive (they acknowledge the gender spectrum and transwomen), real, empowering, and they bring the science and studies to back it up.

On a side note, the other day I picked up a self-help book that happened to be written by a man. By chapter two I was like, "Nope. Done reading." The book, not meaning to, came from the viewpoint of a male privileged status and I just couldn't deal with another, "the world is so hard and here's how you win" because the guy was already 3/4 the way up the mountain. In contrast, this book was singing to me on high and was a refreshing oasis from all that blather.

Do yourself a favor and listen to these ladies. Your self will thank you.
Profile Image for Lorilin.
756 reviews242 followers
April 6, 2019
The only reason I picked up this book is because I went to the bookstore to pick up a different book by the same author called Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life (a truly outstanding, mind-blowing exploration of female sexuality and the female orgasm. #yesplease). While I was there, though, I saw that Emily Nagoski (and her twin sister, Amelia) just released a new book called Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. Whaaaat?! A book on how to calm the eff down? Sold!

I read Burnout in two days, and holy smokes wow, what a game changer. Probably the most important thing I learned about was completing the stress cycle—how even if you eliminate your stress trigger (e.g., your kids aren’t yelling at you anymore because you are letting them watch a movie), you still have to deal with the stress that’s floating around in your body. It literally, physically needs someplace to go. You have to workout, cry, laugh, breathe deeply, or create. Whatever it is, that pent up energy has to move through and OUT of you for you to actually feel calm again. And if you don’t allow yourself to complete the stress cycle, you basically just walk around all day every day with that constant frantic hum of electricity buzzing through your body. We’ve all been there, and it’s maddening.

Though the advice above is applicable to both women AND men, be warned that the Nagoski twins spend a lot of time talking about “The Patriarchy (ugh)." They argue (and use scientific studies to prove) that women have been conditioned to ignore cues from their bodies; push themselves too hard to serve everyone but themselves; hate themselves for not being docile, emotion-less helpmates; and then accept blame when the world tells them they’re crazy for not being able to meet every impossible demand made of them. This section is hard-hitting but incredibly freeing, I’ve got to say. Men might have a different take on it, though…

The last and most practical section is all about how to change this stress mess we’re now in. I won’t mention all of their suggestions, but some of my favorites are:

*** Sleep 8 to 9 hours at night AND make time to rest during the day.
*** Connect with people who get you. (The small section here on gaslighting was so eye-opening for me.)
*** Acknowledge and accept the “madwoman in the attic” who constantly tells you that you aren’t measuring up. Find a way to become her friend.
*** Show yourself some compassion, even when (especially when) the healing hurts.

In short, I loved Burnout. It was the perfect book to read at this particular moment in my life—a breath of fresh air that helped me, well, breathe. I’m recommending it to every woman I know (and even a couple men…).
Profile Image for Tess Malone.
225 reviews27 followers
September 6, 2019
The first chapter of this book is amazing at giving you all the tools you need to break out of burn out and stop it before it even starts. The rest is rather basic heteronormative feminism disguised as self-help with a corny writing style that tries to be hip and fun but makes it hard to take the Nagoskis seriously.
58 reviews
August 27, 2020
Telling me to exercise and practice gratitude to fight my soul crippling burnout is not exactly groundbreaking. Also, too many Disney references.
Profile Image for Anna Shelby ☕.
241 reviews13 followers
April 9, 2019
This book is such a disappointment. Buckets of crazy feminist bs in it. This sucks as a help book.

It started out pretty good but turned into an annoying tirade about patriarchy and an obesity glorifying mantra.

I was stressed out just reading it. The messages are a copy&paste from girls magazines: find joy, not happinness, connection and passion are key, etc. etc. The villain is the patriarchy only, and being overweight is awesome, because we are all such special snowflakes. I hear you, dear author. None should be discriminated because of their appearance. But why, not once do you mention the medical issues overweight entails. I wonder why, dear overweight author.

This particular part of the book annoyed me to no end, because Nagoski does not talk about the real issue at hand, that being the fact that most societies discriminate people because of their appearance and maybe try to see the reasons for that. The Nagoski sisters just are just stuck at the point hammering into your head that you're awesome, no matter how unhealthy your lifestyle may be to your own body. It feels like this book is their message board to all those who bullied them because of their weight. Well, that's not what I was paying for.

#The world changes! The nonsense of discrimination towards women is NOT status quo anymore everywhere. I just need to ask about the gender quote in an interview for a new job, and the male interviewer starts sweating immediately. We get pampered just because of our sex. That is not equality.
There's nothing eye-opening in this book. None of the promised helpful advice. Not a recommendation from me.
Profile Image for Alex.
91 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2020
Reading the negative reviews for this book was the most stressful thing about it. From the introduction, the authors of this book let you know what it's going to be like. They explain that this is all basic stuff (you probably know about it, but it's helpful to know why it's true). They explain that they are going to talk about the patriarchy (this should tip you off if you're not interested in a feminist perspective). They explain WHY they use stories and simple language and tl;dr and examples from pop culture instead of copy-pasting from scientific journals (People like stories! The science backs it up, you will learn more if it's relatable!). These all seem like good reasons to me. If they don't seem like good reasons to you, then you are not the audience for this book.

I did, in fact, know most of what was written in this book. But this book was helpful in it's simplicity and it's reaffirming attitude. Not all of the analogies and stories were helpful to me (I didn't get the madwoman in the attic and I hate Jane Eyre). But sometimes some things really stuck. Headwinds/tailwinds as a new way to explain privilege. Being grateful for who and how instead of what. Explore/exploit as a way to assess if you should make a life change.

Now for the two sneaky chapters in the middle. There is overwhelming data about discrimination against women (and people of color). There is overwhelming data that shaming people for their weight makes them MORE unhealthy. In general people do not read the journal articles with that data. Now, those same people are angry at this laid-back, unaggressive little book for suggesting those facts in a "cutesy" way and not being scientific enough (not true, check the 20 pages of references). Those chapters were the most reaffirming for me. Maybe if I wasn't already interested in patriarchy smashing and fat activism, they would have been harder for me to engage with. But I found these chapters well-reasoned and well-organized. If you want to know what us feminists are so fired up about, this might be a good, non-aggressive place to start. (Note: there are passing references to racism, LGBTQ+ discrimination, etc. but my one complaint is that there is not enough intersectionality in these two chapters with other kinds of oppression, not just sexism.)

As the authors explain, reactions of anger towards others for allowing themselves self love and self care is often borne out of the (subconscious) belief that all of the time I spent on self loathing, and dieting, and smiling at a sexist boss, and making dinner for a spouse even though I work 50 hours a week, too... is somehow wasted. I think that's at work in a lot of the angry reviews for this book.

All of that time is not wasted. We're all doing the best we can! But it's also not worth it to keep doing things that exhaust us and make us miserable. I think this book has a very clear point of view, and makes its case with science, data, and Moana/Star Trek references.

If a cutesy, sciencey, feminist rant/pep talk sounds good to you, this book is highly recommended.
Profile Image for Britany.
950 reviews413 followers
April 26, 2022
Meeeehhhh - this is exactly what you think you are going to get on a book about managing stress and nothing revolutionary. I feel as though this was the perfect book to pick up right now for the time in my life I am currently wading through, however I would recommend only reading the first and last chapters and skimming the rest. I was surprised at how many chapters talked about adjacent topics not really related to burnout. I will be hugging my dog every day for 20 seconds to complete the stress cycle every single day, since most of us do experience stress on a daily basis and we must complete the cycle in order to get through the day. I must admit I was disappointed if I'm being honest with the topics covered as most were things that have already been covered, and covered, and covered.
Profile Image for Ardyn.
83 reviews9 followers
November 5, 2021
If you want a book about dealing with stress, read only the first chapter of this book. The brief discussion of the stress cycle was actually kind of interesting, and not something I've seen in other pop psych books.

If you want a book about gender biases, skip this entirely and just read Invisible Women. That's a way more analytical, thoughtful, and thorough view of gender biases and is a terrific read. The authors of Burnout spent nearly the entire book discussing how gender inequality is a major source of stress, and virtually ignore all the things that all people have to deal with on a day to day basis that have nothing to do with gender. And the use of so many "TLDRs", "ughs", and ridiculously cheesy narratives made the whole book feel silly.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,584 reviews132 followers
August 5, 2019
It isn't every day that I say that a book has truly changed my life but this one did. This is a book that every woman should read. EVERY WOMAN. I found it to be revolutionary ... it explained so much to me about why I was feeling the way that I was feeling. And, even better, it gave me information about how to deal with it. I only wish I'd had this book when I was in my 20s & providing counseling to domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors every day and slowly burning out. I sometimes wonder if I could have perhaps worked through it and stayed in human services if I'd known the information in this book. I suspect that I'm going to be working for a long time to work on unlocking my own stress cycle. I love that this book has actionable steps that anyone can take to transform and find true wellness. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for da AL.
360 reviews361 followers
July 19, 2020
Excellent insights into everyday challenges & practical tips for navigating everyday life. The authors do a great job reading.
Profile Image for Molly Ferguson.
566 reviews10 followers
April 11, 2019
This is the feminist book on stress I never knew I needed! I would never have picked up this book if I were judging its cover, first for the "breast cancer ribbon pink" of the cover and then for the title. I blame the publishers rather than the authors for this, though, because once inside the book is searingly feminist and offers excellent examples and tips for how to "complete the stress cycle" so that you live to smash the patriarchy another day. I don't think of myself as someone who is "burnt out," and yet I found myself relating to so much of the book. I loved the explanation of the stress cycle, human giver syndrome, and the science the book offers on these things, as well as the summaries and worksheets. I even made a copy of the chapter titled "The Game is Rigged" to pass out to friends! The book got a little corny sometimes though - it didn't need the gimmicky internet speak it lapsed into (TL;DR). Overall, I really appreciated it and I think it should be sold as an antidote to _Girl, Wash your Face_, in a two-pack with Rebecca Traister's _Rage_.
Profile Image for Megan.
361 reviews902 followers
August 22, 2022
Burnout is a very easy, digestible book that breaks down stress and managing burnout. Nothing in this book was particularly new for me, but this is definitely a book I will recommend to clients to assist them in understanding the nervous system and learning how to complete the stress cycle.

Tl;dr takeaways from this book:

- 20-60 minutes of physical activity/day helps complete the stress response cycle

- Other activities that assist with completing the stress response cycle: breathing, positive social interaction, laughter, affection, crying, & creative expression

- “Human Giver Syndrome” sucks

- Women’s brains take twice as long as men’s to shift into a state of helplessness when under stress!

- It is healthier to be 70+ pounds “overweight” than it is to be 5 pounds underweight

- 42% is our day should be dedicated to rest (i.e. 14 hours for work/kid stuff, 8 hours for sleep, 30 minutes for connection, 30 minutes for exercise, 30 minutes for food, and 30 minutes for something individual that provides restoration)
Profile Image for Jenni Clark.
178 reviews2 followers
June 11, 2019
There were some pearls scattered amongst a LOT of political rants about the patriarchy. It was too whiny for me and victimized women more than I feel is warranted. Women have far more capacity to own and direct their situation than I feel like she gave us credit for. It wasn’t my brand of feminism in that sense. I was hoping for something more empowering.
Profile Image for Lisa Butterworth.
892 reviews26 followers
October 6, 2021
Much better than the average self-help book. It has all the usual good advice bits, and a few that were even new to me, specific advice for finishing the stress cycle, getting lots of rest, what self-care really looks like. I loved the "human giving" vs. "human being" discussion. The place where this book really stood out for me though, was is the acknowledgement of systemic inequality, so many self-help books want to sell the idea that you can fix all the problems in your life, and that makes me freaking crazy, because so many of hte problems women face, and more specifically women of color are a result of systemic injustice, and telling people that "self-help" can solve systemic problems is just once again blaming the victim. This book does NOT fall into this trope. There are whole chapters on coping with injustice and taking care of ones self in the midst of unavoidable inequality, and that is important work for us all to do.
Profile Image for Emmkay.
1,166 reviews72 followers
November 16, 2022
I’m dealing with some burnout right now, and this book on burnout for women was recommended to me. The individual pieces weren’t new to me, and the kind of cutesy writing style to make it digestible is not my usual thing. But I found it useful, and I appreciated that the authors were trying to combine discussing techniques individuals can use as well as systemic problems.

Some of the topics that had something to offer -

- completing the stress cycle to deal with the actual stress and not just the stressors - via physical activity, social strategies, creative expression - the idea being that if you just march through your day battering through the stressors one by one without ‘completing the stress cycle’, you never come down from the keyed up state of being ready to battle them. This resonated with me, since I can get into stretches of very long, packed days filled with mess in which everything falls away other than dealing with the stressors (but not the stress itself), and then as a result the stress doesn’t get a chance to dissipate.

- dealing with stressors you can control through ‘planful problem-solving’ (autocorrect tried to call it ‘playful,’ but, um, it doesn’t feel that way), and dealing with stressors you can’t control through ‘positive reappraisal’, or changing expectations to redefine winning in terms of specific incremental goals. There was also a decent short discussion on when to give up.

- a good discussion of the importance of rest. Dang, we need a lot. Time is…an issue.

- recognition of the impact of patriarchy, gaslighting, body image stress, and what the authors term ‘Human Giver Syndrome’. As I noted, I like that the authors don’t try to make stress and burnout a solely personal issue.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,204 followers
August 19, 2019
I'm not burned out, nor have I been at that point in any time since leaving libraries, but this is a damn good book, whether or not you experience burnout. There's no groundbreaking knowledge conveyed here -- we all know exercise is good for us and so is rest -- but the context the Nagoskis offer, as well as their research, offers up the why behind it. Exercise completes the stress cycle. Resting allows our brains to do a ton of work. I was kind of blown away by the fact we're to rest 40% of our days, but when they break down what that entails, it's really not that challenging (they are good about the caveats, of course).

The chapter on the "bikini industrial complex" and about how women choosing to be liberated from body hatred is so good. It's not about body love or acceptance, which is something I really dislike. You can't go from one extreme to the other without whiplash, and frankly, it's just not realistic. But they offer up ways to think about having and operating within a human body that are really worthwhile. As someone who cares deeply about body stuff, I shouldn't have been surprised to hear the history of some of the medically-ingrained biases, and yet, I still was.

The audio on this one is great!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,299 reviews119 followers
July 22, 2022
Twin sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski have written a book that asks us to step back and really look at how women are pushed to the breaking point. Amelia was in doctoral school getting her doctorate, working two part-time jobs, commuting 65 miles each way and raising three teenagers. Her body rebelled and she ended up in the hospital—not just once, but twice. Emily has a Ph.D. in public health and her response was to understand the science of what was happening to her sister.

Emotions are biological events that happen in your body. One of the most efficient ways of dealing with the physiological response to stress is physical activity, but affection is equally powerful (a 20-second hug communicates to your body that you have someone that you love and trust in your life). The Nagoskis believe that wellness is a state of action and that it is important that all of us care for each other. Excellent advice with the added benefit that it is based on sound science.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,204 reviews189 followers
April 23, 2019
I’m skeptical when it comes to self help books, but after hearing the Nagoski sisters on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books and being totally charmed by them, I knew I wanted to hear more of their ideas. The title to me is a little limited for what the book actually is: an exploration of not just burnout but the stress that causes it, with a specific focus on how stress affects women and what we can do to release some of the pressure. Some chapters will resonate more or less with different readers, but for me, the chapters on completing the cycle and the bikini industrial complex alone are worth the price of the book. I came away with a handful of concrete, actionable revelations, and the Nagoski sisters are cheerful and pleasant company (they take turns narrating the audio book). If you like Brené Brown, you'll probably find something useful here.
Profile Image for Debbie.
325 reviews27 followers
January 27, 2020
2.5 stars

If you love the style of “How to Be a Badass,” this book will be perfect for you. Unfortunately, that’s what made it not so great for me, as I found the writing style grating.

Burnout had some very interesting and useful tidbits that were unfortunately drowned out by cheesy, “you go girl!” style writing. This was further heightened by the overly peppy, somewhat condescending narration of the audiobook (as read by the authors!), which made the book very frustrating to get through and watered down the impact of the facts this book presented. In addition, the addition of soft piano music as a back track on some “inspiring” sections of the book felt extremely overdone. I may have enjoyed this book slightly more if I read it psychically rather than via an audiobook, but the tone came through so much via the word choice that I don’t feel like it would have made much difference.

Again, this comes down to preference. There are plenty of people who would really connect with the writing style of this book; I just wasn’t one of them. But it was interesting reading a book about burnout specifically geared towards women, and I plan on using some of the factoids I gleaned to be more cognizant of burnout and stressors in my life, allowing me to implement a few of the coping strategies that were portrayed.



Burnout = 1. Emotional exhaustion (the fatigue from caring too much for too long), 2. Depersonalization (the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion), 3. Decreased sense of accomplishment (feeling like nothing you do makes any difference)

Emotional exhaustion has the biggest effect on our well being. Exhaustion is when you get stuck in an emotion.

Because women are often expected to be the “givers” in society, we feel selfish if we spend time caring for ourselves.

Dealing with stress is different than dealing with the things that caused your stress. To deal with your stress you have to complete the cycle. Stressors are what activate the stress response in your body addressing but stressor doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be out of the cycle of stress. Sometimes will address the stressor by walking away because of social conventions, but that will get rid of the stress because we didn’t close the cycle. You have to deal with both the stressor and the stress you can’t deal with just one.

We typically have three responses to stressors: fight, flight, or freeze. Fight and flight are go responses, when your body thinks you will be able to directly address the stress. Freeze is when your body basically shuts down because it doesn’t think it a win against the stressor. Fight usually involves an anger/frustrated response, flight usually involves an anxious/worried response, Freese involves a numb, shut down, immobilized, disengage, sluggish emotion. When you emerge from the Freese state, your body needs to get rid of the pent-up adrenaline so you might feel shaky, shameful, anxious, angry, cry for no reason, etc.

Exercising for 20 to 60 minutes every day will help your body complete the stress cycle. Other ways to complete the stress cycle include:
- deep slow breaths (this is the most gentle tool, good for when you’re in a lower stress situation or just need to get rid of a little stress before you can do more effective coping mechanisms). Breathing for five, hold for five, breathe out for 10, weight five, repeat for a total of three times.
- Positive social interactions (can be as simple as telling someone to have a nice day or having a chat with a coworker)
- Laugh or reminisce about a time when you were laughing
- Affection (physical or emotional; six second kisses or 20 second hugs are good because they tell your body you’re safe because you wouldn’t do those things willingly to someone you didn’t feel safe with; interacting with a pet will also give you affection; engaging with your religion can also give you guys feeling)
- Crying
- Creative expression (using the arts such as writing, reading, painting, watching a movie, listening to music, etc. to help you process your emotions)

How to tell if you still need to deal with the stress before addressing the stressor:
- you find yourself doing repetitive or self-destructive behavior; this can include checking/doing the same thing over and over, fiddling, thinking obsessive thoughts
- Being jumpy
- Hiding from your life (spending the entire weekend in bed not doing anything, wasting your entire night going down the YouTube rabbit hole, etc. not actually dealing with anything or doing anything)
- Your body feeling out of whack, not feeling healthy, chronic illness or pain caused or exacerbated by the stress

“Wellness is not a state of being, but a state of action” you have to actively address and close your stress cycle.

Frustration happens when our progress towards our goal feels more effortful than we expect. You can manage frustration by using planful problem solving for situations you can control and positive reappraisal (rethinking what winning is or reframing failure). You also need to be aware when it’s time to quit; if the cons outweigh the benefits it might be time.

Finding meaning helps you resist and overcome burn out. Meaning helps us thrive when things are going well and helps us cope when we’re struggling.

Meaning is not Brown but made. It comes from engaging with something larger than yourself. Find your source of meaning engage with the actively.

Meaning usually comes from:
1. Pursue an achievement or ambitious goals that leave a legacy (Example: curing cancer, helping orphans)
2. Religion
3. emotional connection with others
Many sources of meaning are combinations of these, or can even be outside the screen; these are just the three most common. It’s whatever makes you feel like your life has a positive impact

Connection with friends, family, God, etc. is necessary and helps renew both of you.

Signs you need to seek connection from others:
1. You’ve been gaslit
2. You feel like you’re not enough
3. You’re angry/enraged (complete the stress response with them)
4. You’re lonely

Rest makes us more persistent and productive. Your resting brain assessed your present state and plans your future (your “default mode”). If you’re struggling with something at work, try taking a break to refresh your mind. This break can also allow you time to complete the stress response cycle. You can do any mindless task to get into your default mode (laundry, dishes, game on your phone). Active rest can be good because it makes you not bored. Rest certain gears of your brain while working others.

Sleep let’s our bodies recover from workouts, let’s our brains encode what we learned during the day. Let’s us process our emotions and release interpersonal conflict.

Your body/brain needs you to spend 10 hours out of every 24 resting (doesn’t need to be sleeping). This doesn’t need to be 10 hours every single day, it can be averaged through the week. This rest can mean sleep, having a stress-reducing convo with a love done, exercise (because it completes the stress response cycle), paying attention to food (cooking, eating, etc. but needs to be fully paying attention to it, not listening to an audiobook or eating while driving), socializing, etc. sleep, food, friends and movement. It doesn’t matter what you do or if you do two at a time (ex: lunch with friend) as long as it fits in one of those categories and is dedicated to rest and getting into your default cycle (ex: lunch with colleague doesn’t count).

Perfectionism can be good, but When perfectionism functions as a maladaptive strategy to cope with stress, it can become harmful.

You do better if you engage in less self criticism and more self compassion. You need to see it’s not the whip (you being harsh on yourself) that makes you stronger but your perseverance. If you fall into self criticism you’ll find yourself feeling like you can’t achieve anything unless you’re criticizing yourself. Reckoning with your self criticism (“mad woman in the attic” a la Jane Eyre) lets you feel comfortable with imperfection.
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