How to Manage Your Burnout When the World Is on Fire (Bonus Episode)

Hiya, Bitch Nation. Ducky here!

Kitty and Piggy are the best bosses I’ve ever had (and not just because I’m legally required to refer to said bosses as “the Bitches” in casual conversation). They are unquestionably brilliant, unfairly funny, and unbelievably supportive.

Both Kitty and Piggy have been through their share of burnout. And while I’ve been dealing with it due to the stress of one of my other jobs, they have been consistently by my metaphorical side, gleefully eating metaphorical popcorn, and providing invaluable, actionable advice.

There is no one better to have on your team when you’re considering questions like, “Am I experiencing burnout?” or “How much stress and toxicity in the workplace is too much?” or “If I follow Kitty’s advice and actually drop the line ‘It sounds like I’m not meeting your expectations as an employee—should we go ahead and set my last day?’ will I get fired on the spot?” (Spoiler alert: we were severely understaffed, so no!)

All of which is to say that after many years of putting their brilliance on the internet for free, the Bitches are offering their first ever course on the topic of burnout! It was, to quote Piggy, a labor of love… but a labor nonetheless. And to quote Kitty as her body broke down into its component parts upon completion of this project, “Oh god my spleen!” (probably).

In today’s special bonus episode of the BGR podcast, the Bitches walk you through a sneak peek of their new course. Listen here and on your favorite streaming platform, or scroll down for a transcript of the episode.

The Bitches Get Riches Burnout Workshop

Based on exhaustive research and hundreds of conversations with friends and readers suffering from the effects of burnout, our first-ever publicly available online course includes:

  • A full-ass movie-length video you can watch (and rewatch) at your own pace.
  • A thick and juicy 75+ page workbook crammed with exercises, personality tests, guided questions, tips, resources, and more.
  • Empirical research on what burnout is and why it’s so uniquely life-ruining.
  • Real, actionable ideas to heal yourself with no boot-licking and no bullshit.

The workshop is designed to be self-guided, so you can proceed through the lessons and exercises at your own pace. At the end you’ll feel like a burning torch that has just been plunged into the sea: your burn quenched, your mind soothed, your steam very cinematic and cool-looking!

In addition to the course, you’ll also receive a workbook filled with exercises and a list of further reading.

The Burnout Workshop Workbook preview.

What you’ll get out of it

By taking the Burnout Workshop, we want everyone to…

  • Practice identifying the major red flags of burnout, including the three that scare us the most.
  • Understand the biological processes that make stress both harmful and beneficial.
  • Know the physiological and psychological effects burnout causes within our bodies
  • Discover the 5 personality traits that make you easier to manipulate and prone to burning out.
  • Learn to spot the 5 environmental traits that all toxic, evil, soul-sucking shitholes have in common.
  • Identify your self-sabotaging behaviors and try exercises to reverse them.
  • Develop habits, tactics, and scripts to defend yourself from toxic environments.
  • Laugh politely at our obscure references, cringey gags, and gallows humor.
  • Learn what powers you already have, and how to wield them to get what you need.
  • Stop taking personal responsibility for systemic problems.
  • Internalize the truth that it doesn’t have to be this way.
  • Walk away with concrete plans for change.
The Burnout Workshop video preview. Ain't we cute!?

All three of us worked hard on this course for months with the support of our dedicated Patreon donors. We’re insanely proud of it, and we really hope it helps you out. Go forth and conquer, unburnt!

Full episode transcript (click to expand)

Kitty & Piggy 00:05 
Piggy 00:12 
I’m Piggy. 
Kitty 00:13 
And I’m Kitty. 
Piggy 00:14 
And I am also a narwhal today. 
Kitty 00:16 
You look great. 
Piggy 00:18 
Thank you, thank you so much. I’m really excited to be a narwhal. It’s like this very cozy, fleecey onesie. 
Kitty 00:24 
Yeah, we’re talking about a bunch of heavy-hitting topics, and things that involve a ton of research and understanding science and biology, and I think this is the crucial outfit for communicating— 
Piggy 00:39 
Yeah, gravitas. 

Kitty 00:40 

—value and authority. 

Piggy 00:41 
Yeah. Yes. Yes, I feel very authoritative in my narwhal onesie. 

Theme Song 00:46  

If you need some dough 
You don’t know where to go 
In this patriarchal capitalist hellscape 
Well here’s the ‘sitch 
We’re gonna help you, sis 
Because bitches get riches 
Bitches get riches, Bitches get riches, Bitches get riches 
And so can you 

Piggy 01:13 
Anyway, we are the Bitches in Bitches Get Riches, and we have a very special announcement for you today on this very special bonus episode. 
Kitty 01:20 
That’s right. 
Piggy 01:21 
For we are announcing our Burnout Workshop, the quintessential place for learning about, identifying, and solving your burnout! 
Kitty 01:34 
Yeah, I think this was one of the things that we got asked about more than any other topic, especially when we were giving live speeches. Folks would come up to us afterwards, or the question and answer sessions afterwards, even if we’d only kind of brushed up against the topic of burnout, it was like this sarlacc pit that we were all just like— 

Piggy 02:00 

[sarlacc shrieking noises] 

Kitty 02:01 

—the topic would be sucked inside. And it was just so clear that this was a massive emergency and a very kind of quiet emergency that many people feel very alone in dealing with. A lot of people think that their burnout is kind of a personal failing and a personal problem. And if there’s one thing that you and I hate more than anything else when we write about personal finance— 

Piggy 02:29 

Wait, can I guess what it is? Can I guess what it is? 

Kitty 02:32 

You only get one guess. 

Piggy 02:34 

Okay, is it when people suggest personal solutions for systemic problems? 

Kitty 02:40 

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, that’s it! 

Piggy 02:41 

I’m so smart. 

Kitty 02:42 

You’ve met us. So yeah, we wanted to try to offer solutions to this that were better than the solutions that we’ve seen because the solutions that we’ve seen have been fucking awful and infuriating. 

Piggy 03:00 

Mmhmm. Have you considered yoga? 

Kitty 03:02 

Oh, my gosh. Light a scented candle, take a bubble bath. 

Piggy 03:05 

Oh, my gosh, have you tried meditating 10 minutes daily? 

Kitty 03:08 

Oh, my God. And really, like that’s it. That’s about the end of it. 

Piggy 03:13 
So as a preview to our new Burnout Workshop, which you can access at BitchesGetRiches. Com/Courses, let’s talk a little bit about burnout. Let’s talk about why it sucks. 

Kitty 03:27 
Yeah. So we define burnout as a period of emotional, physical, mental exhaustion brought on by long term exposure to low grade stress, particularly when that stress comes from external environments that culturally we expect an individual to be able to manage the stress from. So you’re not fleeing a war-torn country, you are going to work. You’re taking care of children. You’re living a perfectly normal life. But that life is mounting stresses upon you that is making it difficult for you to thrive psychologically, physically, emotionally. 

Piggy 04:16 
And it’s funny you should talk about thriving, particularly physically, emotionally, and mentally, because when we were done writing this 75 page workbook and 2 hour movie of a workshop, can you tell the people what happened to you? Can you tell them how your body reacted to the burnout of creating our burnout workshop? 

Kitty 04:39 
The cobbler’s children truly have no shoes. I was writing so much about stress and reading so many personal accounts of people going through horrible chronic stress that I was getting passively stressed out. And as many people going through burnout, I did not realize how much that stress was mounting. And you know, every body, every mind is different. For some people, they really feel like the emotional or the mental effects of burnout first. I’m one of those people who—I’m not in touch enough with my emotions for them to give me that heads up. Instead, my body just breaks. So literally like the— 

Piggy 05:28 

Complete meltdown. 

Kitty 05:29 

The day that we published this course, which was such a labor of love, but a true labor for us. 

Piggy 05:36 
But a labor. Emphasis on the labor. 
Kitty 05:39 
I got a cold. That cold developed into an upper respiratory infection. It developed into pneumonia. It moved up into my sinuses. From my sinuses, it pushed up into my tear ducts to become viral pink eye in both eyes. 

Piggy 05:54 

Jesus, you’ve never been sexier. 

Kitty 05:55 

It moved into one middle ear infection and my tiny pinhead became so swollen that it put pressure on all the nerves in my face, so I lost feeling in a lot of my face. I couldn’t feel my teeth. Oh, and then the antibiotics gave me the worst yeast infection of my life. 

Piggy 06:17 
So the burnout became a real burn, if you will. 
Kitty 06:18 
Oh! Yeah, and I also damaged the cartilage that connects my sternum to my rib cage with nonstop coughing, which included some coughing up of blood. So. 

Piggy 06:28 


Kitty 06:29 

Yeah! I, like an absolute ignorant idiot, was pushing myself really hard to get this writing finished because I had this sense of urgency because I was like, I want to help these people. People are coming to us with this problem of feeling burned out right now, and I need to help them right now. And I allowed too much of that stress into my life, and it just blew my body into 45 discrete tiny pieces. I came apart like a Lego. 

Piggy 07:02 
That’s what you get. That is what you get for letting unfettered burnout rule your life and for not practicing what we preach. And I frankly think you have never been sexier than when your body was turning into a puddle of goo. 
Kitty 07:12 
Thank you. I sent you a lot of selfies with eye boogers. 
Piggy 07:18 
I was just like, oh my god, am I going to have to hire a new co-bitch? Um so I think it’s really important to know that this can happen to anyone. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all get burned out from from time to time, but it’s really important to recognize the signs and to do something about them. 

Kitty 07:35 
Yes. So one of the most insidious things about burnout is that it is very hard sometimes to tell when you are at a breaking point. Things get bad and bad and bad so slowly that you are like a toad who’s being boiled in water. You can’t recognize how bad your situation is. And you and I have both had the experience of being burned out. And for both of us, we needed external help, like a lot of external help from friends and loved ones to say, I don’t think you’re okay. 
Piggy 08:07 
You’re in danger, girl. 

Kitty 08:09 
Yeah. And we really want to help people be that voice and understand more objectively the way that they’re feeling and how it’s not normal and it’s not acceptable, and it’s also not inevitable. So what I’d love to do is to maybe walk you through the very first exercise that’s in our workbook, which is identifying the red flags of burnout. 

Piggy 08:38 


Kitty 08:38 

I think if you put yourself mentally back in a place when you were feeling burned out by your terrible job, which you’ve talked about in the past. Not your current job. 

Piggy 08:47 
Yes, not my current job. My previous job, which I’ve talked about on the blog. Yes, I was very burned out at that job. So I will briefly time travel back to when I was feeling burned out. 

Kitty 08:56 
Piggy 08:57 
Okay. [British accent] Ask me the questions, Bridgekeeper, I am not afraid! 

Kitty 08:58 
Alright. And I’m gonna ask you some questions. Do you regularly lose sleep because of work? 
Piggy 09:06 
Yes. All the goddamn time. 
Kitty 09:08 
Okay. Has your physical health worsened in the past year? 

Piggy 09:14 
Yes. I was medicated for anxiety, and I gained a lot of weight. 
Kitty 09:18 
Great. Do you have any new stress-related conditions? Things like high blood pressure or migraines or panic attacks. 
Piggy 09:28 
Or pustular rosacea all over my face? Yes. Yes, I do. 

Kitty 09:31 
Yes, yes. 

Piggy 09:32 

Not a good look. 

Kitty 09:33 

Autoimmune flares, absolutely, are a part of that. Have most of your leisure activities become passive? So for example, sitting and watching TV instead of visiting with friends or doing a craft or what have you. 
Piggy 09:52 
It’s a lot easier to rewatch Parks and Rec for the third time than it is to actually go out and socialize and put on real clothes. So yes, yes.  
Kitty 10:02 
Mmhmm. Do you end many of your days with drinking, smoking “hthe weed” [gestures as if she is smoking the weed]— 

Piggy 10:10 

“The wheed!” 

Kitty 10:11 

—or eating comfort food to blunt your stress? 
Piggy 10:14 
I’m feeling very called out right now for my all cheese and beer diet. But yes, yes. 
Kitty 10:20 
[Mid-west accent] Come to scenic Wisconsin. We put both of those in soup! 

Piggy 10:23 

[Mid-west accent] Oh sure, yeah. 

Kitty 10:25 

Okay. Has your view of the world become more cynical and pessimistic than it used to be? 

Piggy 10:32 
I mean, my baseline is pretty cynical and pessimistic, but yeah, I can safely say I was feeling a lack of control over anything, which made me much less likely to want to get involved and think optimistically. 

Kitty 10:46 
Yeah. News cycles are what they are, and they’ve been fucking awful for like ever, forever now. But it’s important to note the ways in which negative reactions to bad news don’t have to also mean I will lose all faith in humanity. 

Piggy 11:05 
Yes, exactly. 

Kitty 11:07 
Okay. When you talk to others, do you hear yourself bringing up a lot of negative stories and complaints until everyone around you is like, enough with that? 

Piggy 11:18 
Absolutely, yes. I think people were really annoyed with me constantly complaining about work. 
Kitty 11:24 
Do you struggle to talk about things that aren’t work? 
Piggy 11:28 
Considering my husband instituted a policy of walking the dog without talking about work once a day for 20 minutes, I’d say yes. And I really struggled to figure out what to talk to him about during those walks. 
Kitty 11:41 
Oh, no. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. Okay. These are the last three questions, and they are for me the reddest of the red. This is true crimson, true vermilion. When you do have free time, are you too tired to pursue your preferred forms of recreation? So for example, are you too tired to start reading a new book? 
Piggy 12:08 
Yes, absolutely. I would turn down social invitations. I would be too tired to even pick a new book to read, let alone start reading it. 
Kitty 12:18 
Yeah, that one scares us a lot because it means if you’re already at this point, the things that used to give you some amount of rejuvenation, those coping mechanisms for dealing with this chronic stress are now failing. So it sounds kinda benign, but it’s actually really worrisome. All right, next one. Do your friends outside of your workplace or industry look at you funny when you tell stories about work? 
Piggy 12:45 
They always look at me funny, to be fair. So no. 
Kitty 12:49 
Very fair. And oftentimes we find that you might be able to answer no to this, even though you do kind of deserve those looks. Because a lot of times one workplace or one industry or one environment that’s causing people to feel burned out, they kind of bond around it and it becomes part of the culture. And so you normalize it as a group, which is actually equally as worrying. 
Piggy 13:22 
Not healthy. That’s not healthy. 

Kitty 13:23 

Yeah. Okay. 

Piggy 13:24 

Yeah. Last question. Hit me. Hit me, mommy. 

Kitty 13:26 

If I told you— Stop. Bonk. [gestures like she is bonking Piggy on the noggin] If I told you that this was what your life was going to be like forever, would you want to burst into tears? 
Piggy 13:39 
Can and did. Yeah, I don’t—that was not a sustainable situation. I would be so miserable if I knew that there was no way out. 
Kitty 13:49 
Yeah. In the course, we draw a distinction between sources of stress that we know are temporary and sources of stress that we don’t really have a built-in exit plan for. For example, you could be stressed out because you’re in a grad school program, and yeah, that’s very stressful. But at least you have some solace in the knowledge that this is not going to be your forever.

It’s oftentimes, I think, scarier and more intimidating for people to recognize that they need major changes in their life when they’ve made a ton of decisions that have brought them to this point in their life. And it’s not working out like they hoped it would, and they don’t really know how to pivot in a way that doesn’t throw away all of the work that got them to this point in their life. So whenever we hear about this general loss of hope for the future, it’s always a really scary sign of burnout. 
Piggy 14:44 
Yeah. And like you said, sometimes you really need outside factors and people pointing out this burnout to you. So trust your people and let us be your people in this case. If you are not sure that you’re feeling burnout, visit our website, BitchesGetRiches.Com/Courses, to learn more about our workshop, to learn more about the signs of burnout and how you can create an action plan to lessen the burn, to stop the burn. And let us be there for you. We made this with a lot of love and a lot of stress on Lauren’s part, so. 
Kitty 15:23 
We are more proud of this than of anything we have written before. We really feel like we dug deep—got into the science, we got into the psychology, and we have done our best to make sure that you’re walking away with a really comprehensive understanding of what brought you to this point and what can you do to actually change things. From the get-go, we were like, there has to be more that we can tell people to do than to sit in the lotus position and do fucking yoga or meditate for 10 minutes a fucking day or light a fucking scented candle in a fucking bubble bath. There has to be actual things. 
Piggy 16:07 
Yes. We are done with the commercialization of self-care. We are done with self-care being defined as burning a scented candle and being a conventionally attractive white lady doing yoga. That’s not where we’re at. We need more. So I would pit our burnout workshop against any competitor. God, I sound like a used car salesman. But listen, we read books for this. We got all sciencey up in this bish. So check it out. We want to help. We love you. Yeah. Does that sound good? 

Kitty 16:42 
Yeah, I think that sounds good. Bitches out? 
Piggy 16:45 
Bitches out! Also, I definitely want to wear my little narwhal onesie for all time. 
Kitty 16:53 
Um I assumed it was your amniotic sac that you were just born with it. 
Piggy 16:58 
Yeah, yeah. And you assumed correctly. You assumed correctly. 

Kitty 17:02 

[winking] Ding! 

Piggy 17:02 

[winking] Ding! 

Kitty & Piggy 17:03 

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