Book Review: Burnout by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. & Amelia Nagoski, DMA

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress CycleBurnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book for some time, as my daughter recommended it to me when she read it. I finally got around to reading it because it was chosen as the first book for a book club at work. (I mostly listen to non-fiction while in the car. I seldom drive anywhere alone now, so I don’t get through much of my non-fiction “to be read” stack.)

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle is a wonderful book for any person who was assigned female at birth (AFAB) to read. It could be a good resource for anyone, but much of it is directed toward women.

The whole concept of “human giver syndrome” is so useful! Kay Coughlin of Facilitator on Fire defines it as “the belief that some people (the givers) are supposed to exist to put all of their energy into creating comfort and success for other people, and to be attractive and available, physically and emotionally, at all times while doing it.” I don’t know if the Nagoskis originated the idea, but it is integral to the book. Human giver syndrome is pervasive and corrosive.

The Nagoskis posit that “Wellness is not a state of mind, but a state of action. It is the freedom to move through the innate cycles and oscillations of being human – from effort to rest and back, from connection to autonomy and back, from adventure to homecoming and back.” (That’s from the Burnout site, not the book).

Getting to that state of action and moving through those cycles in a healthy way is difficult for many of us, particularly for the givers. I’ve never encountered anyone who was AFAB and raised in Western society who wasn’t infected with human giver syndrome. I believe it may be even more ingrained in women from some other cultures. I think every AFAB person could, therefore, benefit from reading this book.

Emily Nagoski and Emily Nagoski read the audiobook themselves, alternating chapters, for the most part. They do it extremely well, making the book a joyful listen.

Edited to add: Oh, look! There’s also The Burnout Workbook: Advice and Exercises to Help You Unlock the Stress Cycle.

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