Hey! My name is Ann Ittoop and I am a South Indian/American South food blogger.

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#SoundsFamiliar: Something’s Burning

We all know the familiar feeling of burnout. Here are a few tips to help you feel like yourself and to inspire motivation 

Welcome to my new series called #SoundsFamiliar where I’ll be sharing stories and lessons inspired by my time in the kitchen. To me, the kitchen has always been more than a place to cook and prepare food. It’s a place to express and find yourself. With each mix, pour, flip, and roll of a recipe, there are little pieces of wisdom and inspiration waiting to be discovered. It’s why I’m always all about the process, not just the final dish. For my first post, I want to talk about burnout. A few weeks ago, I posted an instagram story sharing that I felt my mind was full of ideas and big dreams, but my usual reserve of motivation just wasn’t there to serve me. I just couldn’t get myself to move in the direction of the things I wanted to accomplish. Classic signs of burnout.

You know, sometimes when you try to cook too many things at the same time, something will inevitably start to smell like it’s burning. It turned out I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Is that ever really surprising? Not really. But, it is comforting to know you’re never alone in how you feel. With that, I want to share the advice that came out of my poll on motivation and the feeling of burnout. If you like what you read here or want to talk more about something that sparked your imagination, share this post and reach out/tag me over on instagram @thefamiliarkitchen 

#1 Get out of the kitchen

When you’re in something for too long, it’s all you see and you can lose sight of what’s around you. Sometimes, stepping away for a little break is a good thing. It might sound like this compromises your goals, but imagine when you’re trying to cook too many things at the same time. You end up running yourself ragged in the kitchen trying to keep it all together. Something will start to boil over whether it’s the very thing you were trying to cook, your patience, or, worse, your mental health. Sometimes it is possible to do it all, but it’s not something that can be sustained for long and it leads to burnout. Repeat after me: there’s absolutely nothing wrong in recognizing you’re overloaded and stepping back to reset yourself! It will all still be there when you come back.

#2 Remind yourself of where you started and, more importantly, why

The feeling of discouragement and burnout is normal, especially when you’re in a creative space. You want to be seen if you put yourself out there, right? I like to remind myself of two things when I feel discouraged. For me, I tell myself that I started this blog and food space with absolutely nothing. All I had was an idea and an iphone to get me started. Was it always pretty? Nope! But, it got me started and it has blossomed over time which makes me proud.

The second I do is ask myself why I even started doing this in the first place. The “why” defeats all other needs for validation in my opinion. I share food and old-school South Indian recipes because it helps me feel connected to my Indian identity and allows there to be another voice for others who might feel a similar disconnection to themselves. Because of my “why” I am more ok with the feeling of not being seen by the masses because I know it impacts at least one person.

#3 Focus on the process, not the results

This idea is a principle that has always guided my cooking process. You know that phrase, “keep your eyes on the prize?” I always despised it because it felt unreachable and like a recipe for burnout. I understand the concept of focusing on your goals no matter what, but how you get there is much more important than just simply rushing to get there. The process of reaching your goals has so many twists and turns, for example. You can get there by taking short cuts, trampling over others, or maybe paving a meticulously planned path. The process through it all is where the lessons are and it’s those learnings that will take you much further in life. These processes will also hopefully be full of so much satisfaction that getting there seems more fun than the end result.

#4 Find your tribe

Building your tribe can be a powerful thing. It’s a support system that can remind you that you’re not alone, where you can vent about similar frustrations, where you can inspire and uplift each other when you feel the burnout. Making these types (or any) friends as adults is a challenge, I know. But, finding your tribe doesn’t always have to be through conventional ways. I found my foodie tribe on social media, for example. It’s a way for me to ease into conversations and be part of experiences that I know I will resonate with.

As someone who dreads going to networking events and feeling like I have to painfully force conversations, connecting in this way was a much more emotionally accessible avenue for me. Outside of social media though, it is very important to get face to face time with people you want in your tribe. And you can do this in a number of ways outside of sticking yourself in huge events. Sign up for local events that are more intimate and feature topics that you want to be part of. Try reaching out to someone you look up to and ask to chat with them more over the phone or for chai. Get on Reddit and engage with others talking about the things you enjoy. You just never know how you’ll meet people and how they’ll change your life.

#5 Take baby steps

Feeling inspired and wanting to make your dreams come to life is an exciting thing! But, getting there can feel impossible. The best way to get anywhere is to start moving towards it. Let go of the fear of failure or feeling that you’re not good enough or like it needs to be perfect before you put yourself out there. Inch closer and closer to your dreams by simply trying. If you want to make anything happen, you need to consistently do at least one thing every day that moves you closer to your goals. Like if you’re trying to write a book, start by writing just the first sentence. Tomorrow, write the next sentence. Maybe by the end of the week, you’ll have a full paragraph. And that’s still better than absolutely nothing at all!

#6 Talk to Little Annie

This one sounds weird, haha, but, one day, my life coach/counsellor was listening to me talk about things I felt I was doing wrong or not good enough. I was saying things like, “how could I not know this” and “I’m just not good at [insert anything].” She stopped me and said, “Ann, you’re bullying yourself” then she said to imagine me talking this same way to the “little girl” version of me. Would I still be as harsh, critical, unsupportive, and mean to a kid? I put the example into play and it really struck me how hard I was being on myself. It’s no wonder I was stressing myself out and feeling the burnout! So, now when I feel down or unmotivated, I talk to “little Annie” and tell her it’s going to be ok and you’ll get there as long as you keep working towards your goals. I just encourage her. This isn’t coddling or letting yourself off any hooks, either. It’s just being nicer to yourself so you don’t self-sabotage and stifle yourself.

#7 Breathe!

This advice always seemed like a no-brainer. Duh, I breathe every single day! But, mindfully breathing is something that has completely changed my mental space and focus. There’s this box-breathing technique I adopted awhile ago. It’s a way to bring calmness back to you and to help you see things more clearly. You breathe in through your nose so your belly expands. Hold it. Then slowly release it out through an extended sigh. When I first did this exercise, I couldn’t remember the last time I breathed where I could feel the rise and fall of my stomach. The cold air going through my nose. The relaxing drop of my shoulders as I let my sigh out. It was really peaceful. What I love most about this technique is that it’s always with you. You are always breathing and you always have access to a moment of calmness if you allow yourself to.

I hope these seven tips to help burnout and inspire motivation help. If you think I left anything out, leave a comment here or reach out to me on instagram @thefamiliarkitchen! I hope you enjoyed #SoundsFamiliar! Let me know if you have ideas for future topics that you want me to share.

Hey! My name is Ann Ittoop and I am a South Indian/American South food blogger. Growing up as a second-generation Indian-American, I got the chance to experience the best of both food worlds, oftentimes on one plate! On one hand I had Kerala staples like appam and chicken curry. On the other I had chicken and waffles. If there’s one thing that has helped me understand my identity and express both ends of my cultural upbringing, it’s most definitely food. I have a firm belief there is literally magic in the cooking process. That’s why most nights you’ll find me in the kitchen. I’m there always testing and creating new recipes that stem from my wild imagination. And I’m there searching for the familiar memories of my childhood. I started The Familiar Kitchen to not only help myself find this magic, but for those seeking a way to find their own magic. Join me on my adventures through cooking classic Kerala-inspired dishes, some of my Southern favorites, and all the recipes in between.

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