Friday, December 1, 2023
Season 2, Episode 24:
Put The World Down and Rest- Preventing Burnout in Public Health
In this episode we are talking with rest coach, Marissa McKool about what it means to prevent burnout in the public health space and how we can put the world down and rest.
Season 2, Episode 24: Put The World Down and Rest-Preventing Burnout in Public Health
Welcome to the Public Health Joy podcast, the safe space for real and honest conversation about what building a public health research career is really like: the challenges, the triumphs, and all the lessons we learn along the way.
I’m your host, Dr. Joyee, a Public health researcher, PhD survivor, and entrepreneur. In today’s episode we are talking with rest coach, Marissa McKool about what it means to prevent burnout in the public health space and how we can put the world down and rest.
This is where research meets relationship and together, we will find our Public Health Joy!
Are you a public health professional who feels overwhelmed and exhausted? Perhaps you love your career, but you just don’t feel fulfilled and you’re beginning to wonder if your only option is to quit. You might be experiencing burnout!
Today, we speak with rest coach, Marissa McKool about what it means to prevent burnout in the public health space and how we can “put the world down and rest.” Marissa is a former public health leader-turned public health burnout coach for women who helps public health professionals reduce their stress, increase their confidence, and create a fulfilling career without burning out. She got her Master of Public Health (MPH) at Emory University, completed a fellowship at the CDC, and has held several leadership positions at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
In this episode, you’ll learn some practical tips to identify burnout, detach from hustle culture, give yourself permission to rest, begin to practice intentional thoughts, and so much more! As you’ll discover, Marissa believes that rest is a revolutionary act in the face of toxic capitalism and other systems of oppression. Tune in to begin your restful resistance today!
Links mentioned in this episode:
For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impact, visit https://joyeewashington.com
- Insight into Marissa’s public health journey and her experience of burnout. [02:05]
- Signs and symptoms of physical, mental, and emotional burnout. [08:10]
- Detaching from hustle culture: why rest shouldn’t be correlated with productivity. [11:30]
- How to start with what you need and give yourself permission to ask: what do I want? [16:30]
- Tools to help you focus on what you can control and practice intentional thoughts. [22:34]
- Simple ways to resist the conditioning that tells us we don’t deserve rest. [26:22]
- Why rest is a revolutionary act in the face of toxic capitalism. [31:30]
- The role of intersectionality and the value of coaching. [35:44]
- How Marissa derives joy from seeing her clients begin to invest in themselves. [36:30]
- Ways to get in touch with Marissa and access her free resources! [38:01]
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[0:00:53] JW: Welcome to another great episode of The Public Health Joy Podcast. Today, we have Marissa McKool, who is a former public health leader turned rest coach for women in public health. She helps public health professionals reduce their stress, increase their confidence, and create a fulfilling career without burning out. I desperately need this conversation today, because I have been struggling to figure out, how do I incorporate rest into my routine? How do I incorporate self-care into my routine, how do I not get so burned out in the process, and what does that look like for me?
Marissa and I have been kind of in the internet space in the public health, social media space for the last couple of years together, but this is our first time actually having a conversation. I see, Marissa, your rest material or social media posts all the time and I’m like, “Dang, I need to do that. Ooh, I need to do that.” I just haven’t taken the time to really create a rest plan and figure out what that looks like for me. So go ahead and tell us a little bit more about you, a little bit more about your journey, and kind of everything in between.
[0:02:13] MM: Yes. First, thanks for having me on. I love the concept of joy. Actually, I think, a lot of times, what brings us joy is very restful, and we can talk more about that a little later. But I am someone who has been passionate about public health since I figured out what public health was. Like many other people, I thought I would be a doctor or a nurse. Once I learned what public health was, which I was very lucky, it was an undergrad. Where I went to school, University of Arizona, they had a bachelor’s degree in public health. It was like, the stars aligned. “Oh, this is exactly what I want to do. We can prevent, we can help whole communities.”
I went on and got my MPH at Emory University, and then went to CDC. Most of my work at that time was sexual violence prevention or reproductive health, and I loved it. But my personal stressors and my work stressors really collided at a point where I hit burnout, even though in the moment I didn’t know that’s what it was. I think many people, a little more now since the pandemic, but I think many of us still don’t know when we’re hitting burnout.
What happened for me was, my mom became unexpectedly ill, and I chose to move home which was across the country to take care of her full-time while working full-time. Even after she got better, and I moved on, I went and got a job at UC Berkeley, I was carrying that stress around and I had no idea. As a result, not only was I was dealing with the typical stressors of lack of funding, lack of staff, I was doing the job of what at one point literally was three different positions now combined into one. That stress, on top of carrying the emotional toll of just taking care of my mom. I think I wasn’t even 30 years old at that point. There were so many things happening that just collided to me feeling so exhausted and burnt out, and questioning if I needed to leave the field. Which, as someone who’s so passionate about it, that’s a big sign that you’re probably hitting burnout.
I tried all the things, therapy. Therapy was helpful in a lot of ways, especially around letting go of some guilt and trauma around my mom’s illness. But it didn’t solve for my workload overflowing, or leadership at my organization not really advocating for us, and all those challenges we’re still facing in the field today. I tried calendaring, I tried advocating. Really, what I needed to do, and it took me several years was really detach from this idea that we have to always be doing. We have to do it all. We have to do it all for everyone else, and this message is amplified in public health. I can’t tell you how many women I work with.
Actually, this came up on a coaching call this week who said, “Well, I can’t step down because if I don’t do it, no one will.” That is something we hear so much, and we feel so much in the field, and it results in us never saying no, never sending boundaries, never stepping back, and burning ourselves out. My philosophy around rest and how I coach around rest is a lot more around detaching from the hustle, and prioritizing the things that you want to do, that fill you up, that bring you joy, that allow you to feel more like yourself, like you’re living a life you want to live.
[0:05:32] JW: I think that you’re saying a lot of things, a lot of things that are resonating with me. One of those things is that we have this kind of internal stuff that therapy can help. Therapy can help in a lot of instances with a lot of the internal emotional stuff, emotional stressors, learning to let go of some things, or healing from some things. But when you’ve done that work, and you still have the external stressors, the things that you don’t have as much control over. It’s like, well, what do I do with that stuff? Because that stuff is so much, it’s just so much to deal with.
A lot of times, most of the time, I almost want to say, all of the time, we are not trained on how to incorporate rest and how to –
[0:06:24] HT: Oh my gosh. No.
[0:06:25] JW: And how to incorporate rest as part of our daily routines. Not just daily routines, but just as part of our different dimensions of our lives, as part of our work life in our daily routine, as part of our personal life in our daily routine, as part of our spiritual life in our daily routine. What does that look like for us as public health professionals, as public health researchers in the work that we do? Especially, you haven’t mentioned about someone saying, “Well, if I don’t do it, nobody will.”
Then, you also have to think about it. If you don’t do it, they will find somebody else to do it. It might not be done the way that you would do it. It might not be done in the way that they want it done. But they will find somebody else to do it, or they wouldn’t worry about it getting done. So we too would put all of this pressure on ourselves, that doesn’t necessarily need to be there., because we are so passionate about our work. So passionate about our work, and we want to make a difference, and we want to make a positive impact. We feel like we have to constantly be going all the time.
The other side of that is when we don’t stop, when we don’t charge, when we don’t rejuvenate ourselves, when we don’t take care of ourselves first in all capacities and all dimensions, then that leads us to be in a place where, like you said, we’re burned out. We can’t do the things that we need to do or the things that can help our communities, or help our field, and those sorts of things. My question for you is, what’s the difference between feeling like you’re burned out? How do you know? What are the signs and symptoms that you’re approaching burnout as opposed to just being like, I’m tired, I just need I just need a few more hours of sleep? Because burnout feels like that’s a totally different beast over there when you’re burned out.
[0:08:30] MM: I think it’s so individual. It’s hard to have one specific definition of like, look for these symptoms, right? Because it really is an individual experience. I think it’s helpful to have break down burnout. There can be a physical burnout. We do know some people faint or end up going to the hospital for dehydration. That does happen. I’ve talked to many people who that was their wake-up moment. But oftentimes, the burnout is mental and emotional. Just some examples from my life and some of my clients lives of how this can show up, and it’s so hard to catch.
One of the things for me looking back I can see, when I would get an email on the weekend, which at that time, I had my notifications on all the time. I’m always seeing the emails, and then I’m opening them, and then you’re tempted to reply. If I get an email on the weekend, I would start to cry, because I was so upset that they’re emailing me again. Now, looking back, I know for me that was a signal of burnout. That’s not part of my normal operating, or how I go about responding to stressors. That was above and beyond my normal reaction.
For folks listening, if you’re not sure if you’re in burnout or getting there, I would check in emotionally. Are you stuck in an emotion that you can’t get out of? For me, it was resentment. I resented my leadership, I resented public health, I resented my family. For other people, it’s anger. For other people, it’s guilt or shame. There’s nothing thing wrong with any of these emotions. I want to be very clear. Negative emotions are a normal part of life, but when you’re stuck in them and you don’t flow in and out of them and you don’t have space for other emotions, that’s usually a sign that you might be getting stuck in burnout.
Then, the other piece is mental burnout. Again, this looks different for different people. For me, I know when I have that, like heaviness in my eyes, and that fogginess. Actually, I had a client this week, say, “I noticed I was feeling like a zombie all week.” It’s hard to give like, “Here’s the checklist,” and if you see anyone who gives that, you can totally take it, and see if it matches you. But if it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that you’re like, “Oh, all clear, good to go.” It’s more about getting to know you. What’s off for me mentally, what’s off for me emotionally, what’s off me for my reaction, the intensity of my reaction?
I think it’s similar with rest. I was taking so many notes when you’re talking, because we’re sold this idea that rest is just sleeping in, or a spa day, or a massage. While that can be rest, rest is so much more unique and specific to each and every one of us. What’s restful to me might not be restful to you. What’s restful to me one day might not be restful for me next week. I think both with burnout and rest, it’s so individual that the best thing folks can do is check in with themselves. You have the best knowledge inside of you of what’s going on. There’s just so much noise outside of us that we don’t take time to stop and really try to tune in and listen.
[0:11:28] JW: Yes. I think you kind of brought up this point earlier, but also trying to understand that for rest, we’re not necessarily resting so that we can be more productive.
[0:11:41] MM: Oh my gosh, yes.
[0:11:43] JW: Like that is a concept that is hard to grasp when you first hear it, because we’re so used to saying, “Oh, well, I’m going to rest so that I can get up and do some more work. I’m going to rest so that I can just take a moment, step away from the computer, and then I can get back to it.” But not like, you have all the authority, all the rights of everything to rest because you want to rest.
[0:12:06] MM: Because you’re a human. Humans need rest physiologically, right? It’s a basic need. I hate the saying in public health. I used to say it, so no shame to anyone listening who says it, but “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” and this is why I don’t like it, is because it’s implying the only purpose to fill your cup is to give it away, which is very similar to rest is productive. I get the intent is good. It’s to encourage ourselves and others to prioritize rest. But unintentionally, it’s sending messages that hustle culture wants us all to believe, which is you have to earn your rest, you have to justify it. Rest is a reward. Productivity matters most.
I loved what you said earlier about having a routine of rest, because that’s really what’s most important is, rest needs to be integrated into our life. Not in a static way, in a fluid way, in a flexible way. So many of us are taught that rest is just one or two things that come after, after the project ends, after the school year is over, after this. That can get us in trouble with burnout, because it’s not integrated into our life. It’s not part of our routine, and it’s not helping us sustain our work, or whatever personal responsibilities we have. Just our basic physical, mental, and emotional functioning.
[0:13:22] JW: I’m thinking, I’m processing what you’re saying about not pouring from an empty cup, because we say that so much. We say it all the time. Now, I have to stop myself from saying it too.
[0:13:32] MM: I know, and it’s well-intended. It’s totally well-intended. But I feel like in public health, we already get so many messages, especially think about those of us who choose to go into public health. We usually are doing it because ourselves or our community have been impacted, and we want to make a difference, so we have that lived experience. Then we go into the field, and the field amplifies these messages that our job is just always do for others, which is not true. Yes, it’s important. In order to help others, you have to be at your best capacity. But it’s also important to be at your best capacity just for you and for no one else.
[0:14:10] JW: Can you say that again? Because I don’t think – just in case somebody didn’t hear you.
[0:14:15] MM: Yes. Yes, to help other people, it is important we’re at our best. But it’s also important we’re at our best just for ourselves and for no one else. That’s for our benefit.
[0:14:27] JW: It just hit me out. I’m like, I’ve been in a place for myself where I’ve had a lot of personal stressors. I’ve had work stressors, and being an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is one of probably the biggest stressors that I’ve had, besides maybe going through my dissertation in the middle of COVID. But being an entrepreneur is a super stressor. When you’re constantly trying to do everything for everybody else, and as an entrepreneur, you’re wearing all the hats. You are the accountant, you are the janitor, you are the –
[0:15:04] MM: Head of marketing, the head of sales.
[0:15:08] JW: The legal department, the sales department. You are everything, especially when you’re first getting started. Eventually, you start building out and gaining your team but for a while, it’s just you. You are wearing all the hats. To be able to say, “Look, I need to take space not for nobody else.” Especially for public health folks, we’re always trying to change the world. It’s a big task to transform the world. We’re oftentimes not thinking about, how do I do this for me? Nobody else, not my supervisor, not my coworkers, not even this community that I’m part of, not the husband, the wife, the kids, the whatever. What do I do just for me? Just taking time to think about what is it that I need.
It’s not to say that those people aren’t important, they are important. But in the bigger scheme of things, where are they prioritized when it comes to your rest and your self-care and preventing yourself from being burnt out? You have to make sure that you are a priority for you. If you don’t do that first, it’s not going mad about all these other people.
[0:16:29] MM: Yes. You said, what do I need? I think that’s where most people listening probably need to start to question. Once you practice that, and practice checking in with what you need, and practice giving yourself permission to have that, then the next phase is, what do I want? Because the other thing we’re taught, especially if you’re socialized as a woman, you’re not allowed to want just to want, you have to have a reason. It has to serve someone else, or it has to be this, which is not true. Giving yourself permission to want and desire is a part of rest, is a part of joy. What I find often is, especially in public health, a lot of times in my coaching sessions when it comes to feeling bad for taking maternity leave, because they’re going to be gone too long, or stepping down from a committee lead, and that conversation of, “If I don’t do it, no one else will” or “It’s going to harm the community” or this or that.
What ends up happening is we take on the responsibility of the workforce issues of the low staffing, of the low funding, of the low prioritization individually. We have to remind ourselves like, it is not – I cannot change the turnover problem in my 5,000-person organization. Me, stepping down from this committee, and them not – maybe having someone to take over, that’s a systematic systems problem. That is not my problem. I do not have to take that on.
I think we forget, because we’re so systems-focused, and we care so much, that there isn’t an individual-level piece for ourselves we have to prioritize and think about.
[0:17:59] JW: I love that, and what you’re saying. Understanding what is our problem, and what’s not our problem. I can step away and say, “You know what, that’s not my problem. They don’t have nothing to do with me. But I have to be in a space to be able to do that internal reflection and say, “Let me take” – what’s the – was it a Greek God? Is it Atlas? Is that the Greek God that has the world on his shoulders?
[0:18:20] MM: Oh, maybe. Logically, that makes sense to be called Atlas.
[0:18:24] JW: Well, don’t quote me on that, I’m not too sure. I just see this image of the man bending down with the world on his shoulders. That’s kind of what I imagined about public health professionals, and the work that we do because that’s what we’re – we’re literally carrying, trying to carry the world on our shoulders. It’s like, what does it look like? Just put the world down. Put the world down, and just say, “You know what, I’m not dealing with you today. I’m not dealing with you today, and I’m going to focus on me.” Even just saying that, I feel like, “Oh, that’s a lightness that I would love to be able to feel.” That is a joy that I would love to be able to feel, like putting the world down for a second. But it’s like, “How do I do that? What is the process for me figuring out how do I put all this stuff down?”
There was a video, I can’t remember. I don’t know who the guy was or what the video was, but he had a glass of water. He said, “How much water do you think is in this glass?” The people in the room were saying, 12 ounces, 16 ounces, whatever. He’s like, “When you’re holding this water, it’s going to feel light. But the longer you hold on to it, it’s going to start feeling like 20 pounds, it’s going to start feeling like 30, 40, 50 pounds. The longer you hold on to it, the heavier it gets. So you have to learn how to put it down.”
Holding onto that water signifies the stressors that we hold on. The longer we hold onto it, the longer we hold on to the world on our shoulders, the heavier it feels. If we never take time to put it down, it’s going to start feeling unbearable. That’s when we’re starting to approach that, that burnout stage. Is when things just start feeling unbearable. I know, for me, I think mine comes up as anxiety. I’m not typically an emotional or anxious person. But when I’m in that stressful world, and the burnout is approaching, everything causes me anxiety. I’m like, “I don’t want to talk to you right now. Leave me alone. You are making me anxious. I don’t like it. Just get out of my face right now.” That’s how it shows up for me.
It’s just like, how do we start? Like you say, it’s different for everybody. So I have to figure out what does it look like for me to put my world down, whatever that looks like, putting it down. So I’m going to just stop there.
[0:21:02] JW: The public health and humanitarian crisis in Gaza has been heavy on our hearts. The loss of the Palestinian people’s land, their lives, and their dignity has us feeling a number of emotions. For some of us, we feel pain. For some, we feel anger, and for some, we may even feel confusion. But the one thing that we cannot deny is that people are suffering. There are thousands of pregnant women who have limited to no access to health services. Most healthcare facilities have been shut down. Food and water are scarce. Over one million people have been displaced, and the children of Palestine are not safe.
We know that public health saves lives. Today, you can save one more. We are asking that you consider donating to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund to provide immediate relief, critical medical care, and basic necessities to the children of Palestine. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.pcrf.net or use the link in the show notes. If you have any questions about donating to this organization, you can reach out to Marissa McKool at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[0:22:27] MM: Yes. No, I love what you said, and I want to go back to what you said about like, is it my problem, or is this my problem or not? Because one of the tools I often give my clients, and anyone listening can start doing this on your own, is to write down what’s in your control and what’s out of your control. A lot of the time, what prevents us from getting mental and emotional rest, that has nothing to do with taking time off, or sleeping in, is focusing mentally far too much on what’s out of our control. On what our boss says, on the decisions leadership make, on what’s happening on the news. It doesn’t mean we don’t want to be informed or those things aren’t important.
But most of us are spending far too much time thinking about those things, getting frustrated, resisting them, and spending so much time in our head there. It’s just draining your energy, because you can’t change them, or you can’t change them directly on your own. When you shift to, okay, what’s in my control? Okay, what I’m in control is what I decide to work on, is what I decide to say in this meeting, is when I decide to leave work. Whatever it may be, you have so much more power there. There’s less emotional draining that happens there.
Similarly, another tool folks can take. When you mentioned that you felt a little relief in your body, just from saying, “Put the world down.” One of the things I encourage folks to do, and it sounds simplistic and inconsequential, but it’s really helpful, is start practicing some intentional thoughts. This isn’t like positive affirmations or toxic positivity or anything. But practicing thoughts like, “I can rest, I can always choose rest, rest is available to me,” and practicing them whether it’s, put it on your phone as a reminder or write it on a post-it note and say them to yourself. You’ll notice you probably will feel some relief in your body.
What’s happening is, you are teaching your brain to believe that rest is available and possible when your whole life living in a world that tells you productivity, and hustle, and grind is the most important. It’s countering that message. It gives you a little relief in the moment, but it also builds your muscle to believe rest is possible, and see where rest is available, and choose to take it. Whether rest might mean getting up 10 minutes early to just have some time to yourself, or it means, stepping away to lunch. Or it means treating yourself to a pedicure, or getting frozen meals this week because you don’t have time to cook. It can be so many different things.
[0:24:51] JW: Yes. I’m actually – as you were talking, I was like, “I need to look up that thing about Atlas because I don’t even know if that’s right and I don’t want to be talking about the wrong stuff.” Like you said, rest can present itself in so many different ways. As I was looking up, it was Atlas, the Titan – in Greek mythology is the Titan Atlas, and I’m reading this from worldhistory.org. So this is not like Wikipedia. This is legit. But it says, the Titan Atlas was responsible for bearing the weight of the heavens on his shoulders, a burden given to him as punishment by Zeus.
When I read that, I was like, I don’t know a lot about Greek mythology, but just reading the fact that it was given to him as punishment. That’s what it feels like when you’re carrying the world on your shoulders. It feels like, “Why me? Why has this been given to me? What is this burden? What is this punishment?” It doesn’t have to be, it doesn’t have to be a punishment. Sometimes, we’re taking on stuff, like you said that is in our control to put it down. It’s in our control that we don’t have to take this on. Starting to realize, and like we talked about some of those – what came to my mind was like affirmations, right? The kind of affirmations, those sayings to condition ourselves, to think more about incorporating rest into our whole being.
Because that’s what has happened, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we don’t deserve rest. That if you rest, you’re not working hard enough. If you rest, you’re not doing something right. If you rest, somebody else is getting ahead of the game before you are, because you’re too busy spending your time resting, sleeping, or doing whatever. That’s absolutely not the case.
[0:26:41] MM: Yes, definitely.
[0:26:43] JW: Thinking about what, does it look like to stop thinking about having the world on your shoulders as a punishment, and just say, “I can choose to put this thing down. I can rest for myself.”
[0:26:59] MM: Yes. A lot of times, I encourage folks to just see if you can catch yourself. A lot of times, we find ourselves saying “I have to.” I have to go to work, I have to take the kids to school, I have to finish the laundry. The hard truth is, you don’t. You’re human, you’re an adult, you have free will. Everything you do is a choice. Now, I’m not saying don’t take your kids to school, or don’t pay your taxes, or whatnot. I’m pointing out, it’s a choice, and it feels so different if you switch from, “I have to,” which creates dread to “I’m choosing to” or “I’m choosing not to.” Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do. It’s easier sometimes just to say, “I have to” and be in that place of resentment or dread, than to just take on the ownership. No, I have a choice and it’s on me.
[0:27:46] JW: Yes. Being able to say, “This is what I’m not going to do,” or just saying, “No,” period. Like, no, and move on about your business. Because if you tell somebody, “No,” no is a full sentence. No, I’m not doing it. You don’t have to explain. You don’t have to say anything else. Thinking about a lot of times, especially thinking about just the world that we live in, particularly in America, and I think about capitalism, and power, and greed, and all those sorts of things, it’s hard to think about our rest. Our money is tied to work, not rest. We got to have money to live. We got to have money to eat. We got to have money to pay for the kids, daycare, school, or whatever.
Our work is so tied to the money and our rest is not. I think that’s a system problem. It’s a system problem. But when I take note of that, that that is a system problem, I can say, “Okay, let me separate my work and money from my rest. What does that look like? What are some ways that I can reconfigure my life so that I can focus on my rest, and that I’m not absolutely tied to the work-money side of it?” I know one of those things for me is, even though being an entrepreneur is stressful, but that’s also the other great part of being an entrepreneur. Because if I want to rest, if I need a day, or two weeks, or two months, or whatever, I can say, “I’m not taking any more clients. I’m not doing any more social media posts. I’m not doing anything for the next two months,” and I can plan to have my money parts situated. So that I can have the flexibility to take those two months off.
Even if you are, let’s say, working for an employer, you are an employee at someone else’s organization, we have to start thinking about, what does it look like to incorporate that rest when our work is so tied to our money, and we need the money to live. The term that’s coming to my mind is like rat race, like a game with a chase. They got us on this hamster wheel, that you have got to work in order to get your money. You need your money in order to live. It’s like, but you can stop the hamster wheel. You can in fact stop on the hamster wheel, and things will continue, and things will be fine. You just have to figure out how to make it work for you. What does that mean for you, and your specific situation.
For some people, it may not be taking a whole day off, or a whole week off. It might be, “I need to take the morning off. I need to take the morning off before I come into work or I need to take the couple of hours off before going into work. I need to take the week off.” I know I work part-time on the weekends. Part of my plan was, I was like, “I need to change my schedule, because this is not restful for me.” So figuring out, what is a work schedule on the weekends that I can incorporate with working full time as an entrepreneur, right, and what does that look like for me. I think that’s tying their work to that grant, to that money, and realizing what kind of game we’re in is also going to be a big part of figuring out our rest as well.
[0:31:25] MM: Yes. That’s why I do focus on detaching from, I call it hustle culture. But when you really think about all the systems of oppression, the patriarchy, white supremacy, toxic capitalism, which is – Trudi Lebron, who’s – I mean, she does everything, but she’s basically an anti-racist business coach. She talks about toxic capitalism as – capitalism is just a market where you exchange goods, but based on needing capital to start that. But toxic capitalism, which we have in the US uses oppression, discrimination, imbalances of power to cause harm.
Those systems want it set up, where our time and our work is tied to our livelihood. That’s what they want. That’s the external piece. This is how I like to think of it. That’s the external systems piece. We don’t have full control over that. But exactly what you’re talking about is the internal piece, we have control over. If we’re internalizing the scarcity of time, the scarcity of money, the scarcity of success, and all that, then we’re going to prevent ourselves from resting.
But if we detach from that, and believe it’s possible to rest and be successful. Believe it’s possible to rest and build wealth. Believe it’s possible to rest and not get fired, or whatever it may be. You will figure out what works for you in the context of your life. For example, when I was working full-time, and I was doing this work, I changed my work schedule to go in at 7.30 am and leave at 3.30 pm. My roommate who worked for the same organization, she scheduled to go in at 10 am and leave at 6 pm. We did that strategically of how can we set our schedules that work best for when we work best, and when we need rest.
For others of you, it might be being empowered to turn off your Slack or email notifications, or feel empowered to not feel so much guilt about eating frozen meals for lunch, rather than meal prepping. It can be so much more beyond taking a vacation. But you have to believe it’s possible to figure out what works for you and your life. It’s a process because it’s constantly changing what we need in each stage of our life. I think one of the things that makes it difficult in the beginning of this work, is it means you have to get to know your mind, and your body, and tune in, and listen, and respond much more intimately.
For many of us, we have been taught to disconnect from that, especially if you’re socialized as a woman, to disconnect from who you are, what you want, what your body’s telling you, and listen and respond even if other people disagree or tell you something different.
[0:33:59] JW: In thinking about intersectionality too, we’re talking about being a woman, and then when you are a Black woman, or you are a woman of a different culture or a different ethnicity, you have a lot of different layers there that can impact your rest, and it looks different for all of us. Another resource that comes to mind is the book, Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey. That is another one that goes into details, specifically from the Black perspective of what rest looks like, and how rest is resistance against capitalism, and the patriarchy, and white supremacy, and all those things as well. That is definitely another great resource around rest also, but we don’t have time to get into the details around it.
[0:34:43] MM: I love that book too. I totally agree.
[0:34:45] JW: There’s someone else who had told me about, in a sense, being radical. Radical rest was another term that I’ve heard before as well. How do we set ourselves up to be radical about our rest, and the things that we need, and really being adamant about getting our rest?
I mean, we focus on how to eat, and what to eat. A lot of us are not going to go without eating, that’s something that we can control. We know how important food is for our body. We know how important water is for our body. But for some reason, rest seems to get left out of it. We have to really do our work to figure out, how does rest get prioritized in our lives just as much as as the other stuff, so that we can take care of ourselves and put the world down?
[0:35:42] MM: Yes. I know we’re about at time, but I want to make a note about the intersectionality piece. This is where sometimes coaching or having individual support is helpful, because in addition to the messages we all receive, we all receive different messages from our family, from our culture, from so many different things. There might be some messages you’re operating from that we haven’t covered in this conversation. Like for example, if your parents are immigrants. You might have gotten a lot of messages about being grateful, and hustling, and what jobs are worthy, and what aren’t, and other messages you might have gotten. Based on your lived experience, your identities, your culture, community, you might have other internalized messages that it’s helpful to see, name, and decide if you want to keep them or change them.
[0:36:28] JW: Great point. Great point. As we are beginning to wrap up this conversation, I do have this one question that I have to ask you, which is, what brings you joy in your work?
[0:36:43] MM: Oh my gosh. This is why I started this whole business. Honestly, what brings me so much joy is the process of someone coming on a consult call feeling hopeless, feeling like they’ve tried everything. I mean, people in public health, we are smart, we are resourceful. So if someone comes to my call for help, they’ve tried a lot, and they are feeling depleted.
Working with them, and seeing how they start to invest in themselves, and they start to see changes, and they start to be able to say no to spend time with their kids, or stop getting so reactive to their boss, or take more vacation, or start their hobby on the side, or whatever it may be. By the end of our time together, to see how much more fulfillment they have in their life, and how restored they feel. This isn’t because – I’m no guru or anyone’s savior, they did the work. Seeing them do that work and learn that they’re worth it, their life is worth it, their time, their rest. That brings me so much joy. That brings me, I mean, I just feel like I have the best job in the world. Now, I just need to reach everyone out there in public health, which is a totally other thing for an entrepreneur episode, but you know what I mean.
[0:37:59] JW: I totally understand what you mean. For those who want to get in contact with you, they are looking to improve their rest and improve that part of their lives, how do they get in touch with you?
[0:38:11] MM: Yes. Feel free to come hang out with me on LinkedIn, Marissa McKool, or Instagram, Public Health Coach. I also have a podcast called Redefining Rest, where there’s about 20- to 30-minute episodes where I give coaching and teaching that’s completely free. Another free thing you all can do is I have a free, like my top five tips for calendaring, so you can maximize your time and do less. So you can go to mckoolcoaching.com/free. If any of you are like, “You know what? That sounds great, but I really didn’t need to dive deep. I really need this help,” just reach out to me on any of those platforms, so we can figure out the best next steps for you.
[0:38:48] JW: Sounds good. Well, thank you so much for joining me. I’m about to go make my rest plan. I’m about to go –
[0:38:54] MM: Yes.
[0:38:56] JW: All right. This is going to wrap up this episode of The Public Health Joy Podcast.
[0:39:04] JW: I am so grateful for this time we get to spend together. If you enjoyed this episode, I need you to subscribe, rate, and leave a review. For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impact, visit www.joyeewashington.com. This is where research meets relationship. I’ll see you next time on The Public Health Joy Podcast.
© 2023 Joyee Washington Consulting, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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