The SB Cure For Burnout

May 18, 2021

We can hear you now.

“Omgggg. “SB.” Brittany’s going to talk about ‘Sleeping Beauty’ AGAIN.” you mutter, as you prepare to click on to the next thing.


This is different, we promise. In fact, it’s not just “Sleeping Beauty” related at all – it’s pretty much “Sleeping Maiden” comprehensive. It applies to “Snow White,” “The Glass Coffin,” Brunhild, and even Persephone (but let’s face it, “Sleeping Maiden Cure,” or “SM Cure,” sounded… well, a bit like it might be about something else :P.)

So what’s this SB Cure? Let’s start at the beginning.

Last week we wrote up a blog post all about the awful feeling of being burned. out. We talked about how lost, listless, and emotionally exhausted we’ve been feeling lately, and how the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped matters. We gave you some of our favorite resources.

We hoped that the post would resonate with some of you, but wow, it really resonated with a LOT of you! We got so many emails, comments, and thoughts from friends, family, students, Carterhaugh community members, and even those new to our orbit. Most of these emails were words of recognition and solidarity.

Burnout is so real to so many people right now.

We knew we had to do a follow up post. We wanted to repeat and drive home the ideas that 1) burnout is happening to LOTS of people right now and 2) burnout does not last forever, no matter how it feels sometimes. Candles can be relit.

And fairy tales can help.

This brings us to the SB Cure.

If you’ve been with Carterhaugh for a while, you might remember that we LOVE to challenge the idea that sleeping maiden stories are just about passive women waiting to get rescued.

One of our favorite ways to reimagine these stories is by looking at these women as self-care rebels / boundary bosses rather than victims.

Bruno Bettelheim, our old friend (hahaha no), argues that the princess in “Sleeping Beauty” is representative of an arrogant, self-involved teenager. She selfishly removes herself from the world, entering a dream space where she doesn’t have to care about anyone or anything but herself. She doesn’t have to make any decisions. She removes herself from the role that she’s supposed to play in society. She opts out for an extended nap, robbing the kingdom of the labor she’s expected to perform as a wife and mother.

And you know what? Bettelheim was so close to actually getting the heart of this story. He saw the pieces, but he completely missed the point and put the puzzle together wrong.

If you just take out all the judgmental, sexist crap and see the bones of his argument, this story becomes a truly awesome recipe for confronting burnout!

Because THIS is the SB Cure for Burnout – removing yourself from “society” (read: the pressure to constantly be and do more more more, no matter the physical or mental cost) and dedicating time and energy to renewing your body, mind, and soul. Making the effort to focus on yourself, to realign and reimagine what you want your life to be. To remind yourself who you are and what you need.

Taking the time out to do this isn’t selfish, careless, passive, or arrogant – it’s setting a boundary to ensure that you get back to being the amazing person you are. It’s rebelling against a world that constantly tells you you can’t do that. You can. And you should.

Like, let’s take a moment to contemplate that sleeping is demonized as passive and selfish. An abdication of responsibility. Just sit with that for a minute.

The thing is, if you don’t sleep, you die. And if you don’t metaphorically sleep – if you don’t grasp and take time for yourself, instead of being endlessly productive and busy, you burn out.

Really changes your perspective on “Sleeping Beauty,” doesn’t it?

So if you too are feeling burned out, try the SB Cure. Try just reclaiming time for yourself without guilt. Feel like you can’t? Oops, you pricked your finger on a spindle. No choice now, you gotta do it!

Nobody has to know the spindle is a metaphor ;).


  1. Gina

    Soothing post, thank you! I’m so weary of believing I should be doing more…the truth is I naturally do things slowly, contemplatively. And maybe JUST MAYBE that’s okay;) Maybe it’s Good.

  2. Stephanie

    Boundaries? Bwah ha ha ha … oh, wait. I need to work on that. Maybe I just need a blue satin dress?

  3. Diane Perazzo

    This is wonderful and SO TRUE! I laughed out loud when I saw the picture of Bettelheim!

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