Being Superhuman & Dealing with Anxiety with Charlene Rymsha

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Meet Charlene Rymsha:

Millennial Burnout Expert, Social Worker, Yoga Instructor, and Entrepreneur

 If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by work, chronically exhausted, or totally mystified at how everyone around you is accomplishing so much while all you want to do is curl up in bed and watch Netflix… Welcome! We’ve all been there. And we’ve all wanted to somehow get out of there. In fact, research has shown that millennials are the most anxious generation, and it’s not difficult to see why.

Charlene Rymsha gets it. Living in the heart of New York City, she’s always been surrounded by people moving a mile a minute, chasing deadlines without stopping to catch their breath. After working as a social worker for many years, she saw how many young people felt crippled by feelings of anxiety and burnout. Using a transformative, holistic approach, Charlene now works with ambitious young professionals to overcome burnout without sacrificing their relationships, paycheck, or freedom.

We sat down to chat all about anxiety and burnout — how to recognize it, what to do about it, and how to make sure it never holds you back from taking on the world.

 What are some telltale signs of burnout or anxiety?

One major sign is feeling like you’re constantly ON, from the time you wake up in the morning to when you crawl into bed. You feel so caught up in the demands of life that you couldn’t possibly find a moment of stillness.

 Then, there’s waking up in the middle of the night with your mind racing. That’s very, very common, and it takes its toll — I mean, when you’re not even really resting during sleep? Burnout’s just inevitable.

 Feelings of inadequacy can also be a dead giveaway. Feeling like you’re never doing enough, no matter how much you take on. Constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling weighed down by what everyone expects of you — including yourself.

Many who struggle with anxiety also feel totally unable to prioritize or focus in order to set important tasks in motion. They feel overwhelmed by what feels like millions of tasks they need to get to. It’s as though they’re always living in survival mode.

So when someone realizes, okay, I’m not sleeping, I hate my job, I’m not doing it as well as everyone else, my friends are all out traveling, I don’t even have money to pay my rent properly… all of those feelings of deficiency. When is a good time for people to seek help?

It’s normal to feel worried and anxious every once in a while. We’re all human, and even just that can be exhausting. But love yourself enough to see a professional if those feelings start to become self-destructive, as they easily can.

If you notice yourself flying off the handle at someone who’s really close to you, you may want to seek help. No, you’re not just a mean person deep down — acting out to the people who are in your “inner circle” is a totally out-of-character response, one that you can usually take as a big red flag signaling something isn’t right.

Avoidance is another tipping point that, when left unchecked, can take a serious toll on your wellbeing. Many who struggle with anxiety tend to avoid even little tasks, like doing laundry. And as the pile of clothes just keeps getting bigger and bigger, you feel more and more guilty for not dealing with it and the task becomes more and more daunting. It’s a metaphor, really — the same goes for anything you avoid, whether it’s hanging out with friends or even taking a shower.

Physical symptoms can also be your body’s way of letting you know something’s up. No matter how good our minds are at repressing or avoiding anxiety, our bodies are so wise that they take on the symptoms of the emotion. That can manifest itself as shoulder pain, back pain, joint pain, digestive issues, or other discomfort. Figuring out how to better manage your anxiety and care for your emotional wellbeing can literally heal your body.

And of course, if you’re struggling with alcoholism, a food disorder, or another addiction, please seek help. It’s the first step to healing.

So how do you help people overcome burnout?

I take a holistic approach with each of my clients. To start, we talk about the sort of emotions they experience regularly and what first drove them to seek help. I’ll also ask whether they’re dealing with any physical distress. I try to identify any negative thought patterns and get to the root of why they feel the way they do.

When it comes to experiencing burnout or other painful sensations, we can divide our possible responses in three categories. A lot of the time, our natural instinct is to avoid it and just hope it goes away. Then, there’s the opposite reaction — becoming totally immersed in an uncomfortable feeling and taking it on as our identity. I teach a third way — how to allow difficult thoughts or emotions to arrive into your body and then leave. My main goal is to help my clients learn how to create space for whatever comes into their life, even if it’s uncomfortable or unfamiliar. I also provide them with guided meditation techniques and a regimen to help them cope with physical side effects and minimize pain.

What are some techniques to use to calm your mind when you’re feeling anxious?

First of all, recognizing when you’re feeling anxious is so powerful in and of itself. That self-awareness will allow you to exercise control over both your mind and body. So whenever you do catch yourself feeling worked up, take a moment to do the following:

1.     Breathe.

Breathing is the ultimate connection between mind and body, between the conscious and the subconscious. Focus in on controlling your breath. Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose for three counts and out through your mouth for another three counts. The flow of oxygen to your brain will allow you to think clearly, and the moment of stillness will relax you.

2.     Relax your shoulders.

So many of us carry tension in our shoulders. Take a moment to consciously let that go. Roll your shoulders, shake them out, do whatever feels good, then relax them. Then, check in with the rest of your body to see if there’s more unnecessary tension you’re holding. Do yourself a favor and let it go.

3.     Avoid thought rumination.

Don’t dwell on things you can’t control or change. Recognize negative self-talk and replace it with something positive. For example, if you’re beating yourself up over a dumb mistake you made in front of your boss that morning, replace thoughts like “I’m such an idiot. I can’t do anything right,” to “I’m doing the best I can. I’m excited to do even better.”

4.     Assess how you feel.

Once you’ve calmed down a bit, think about what tipped you off about feeling anxious. Did you get angry? Were your fists clenched? Did you start shaking? The body tends to give us cues about what’s happening — recognizing them will help you be even more self-aware in the future. 

So there you have it. When you feel like you’re going to implode, it happens to be a feeling most of us share and there are formative ways to address the root of your personal challenges with burnout and anxiety. If you’d like to hear more from Charlene or get in touch with her, you can visit her website or reach out to her at