Burnout at Disney. It can happen!Continued from Part 1

Of course, we’re not all alike. We have different tipping points and ways of coping—or not—at the Happiest Places on Earth. The good news is, the more adversities you overcome as a couple, the better you get at it, until, ideally, you function as a well-oiled superhero capable of hurdling obstacles in a single bound, avoiding stroller brigades faster than a speeding bullet, and believing above all else that as a couple you’re more powerful than a locomotive. In the meantime, here are a few things to consider as you’re going down in flames:

Voicing the negative can be a positive—Instead of trying to suppress negative thoughts, because you don’t want to spoil your partner’s need to believe that everything about Disney is perfect and magical and there’s no room for anything but, it’s far more helpful to prove that negatives can be acknowledged and discussed constructively without them polluting the entire trip. Look to your partner to help you adjust your attitude or figure out the best way to deal with the problem. I.e., “I had to tell the front desk our phone wasn’t working. I think you should have to tell the bartender my martini is too wet!” Negativity kept under lock and key will find a way to escape, surface, and reek havoc. This is fact, not theory.

The best plans are the ones that can be changed—You may have committed months ago to what park you’re going to on what day and everything before, after, and in between. But things don’t always work out according to plan, and your Disney experience should not require killing yourselves to enjoy it—which is why you’re going as a couple and not a family! Always, underscore always, be willing to cut your losses and save yourselves when you realize you’re waging an uphill battle. Too hot? Too many people? Too much work just to buy a souvenir? Get thee to a hotel pool—or bar—and cool off! Or—and don’t be afraid of this—take a nap. Rebooting the system can make a world of difference. And if you can’t leave the park, take advantage of one of Disney’s perpetual transportation systems, like the train, People Mover, or Monorail. Hold hands, breathe and watch the scenery. Disembark when you’re ready and you’ll find yourselves rejuvenated.

Take a break before reaching the breaking point—Sometimes, the only reason things go spinning out of control—and fast—is because you’ve gone too long without food and/or drink, and your body is taking it out on you by crashing and taking your brain with it. If you find yourself dangerously hungry or thirsty, you’ve waited too long to deal with it. Unless you have provisions in your daypack, you’re likely going to have to a) locate a source of food and/or drink, which requires travel time; and b) stand in a queue for said food and/or drink, which equals more time. It can take anywhere from 12–35 minutes to acquire replenishments, which is already 12–35 minutes too long if you’re already suffering. [NB: As of this writing, you can now use your mobile device to order—and pay for—food and beverages at select counter-service restaurants using the Disneyland app and the MyDisney Experience app, which significantly reduces wait times, both for ordering and pickup.] Take your body’s needs seriously—they’re mission-critical, after all—and commit to dealing with them before you’re in a desperate situation. In practice, that means not fitting in one last ride before lunch, even if the line is really, really short. Remember: It’s not just lines that take time—rides do, too! Don’t underestimate how much time and energy stand between you and basic survival, and you won’t push yourself past your breaking point.

Heed the signs:

Even if you don’t know yourself or your partner well enough to anticipate the burnout point, you can at least be sensitive and aware of the warning signs:

  1. You’re so hot and tired that just having to step out of the way of a careening child is almost more than you can bear, physically and emotionally.
  2. Your partner says something innocuous and you reevaluate the entire relationship in under a minute.
  3. You’re so thirsty you could die, but the thought of having to get a Sprite instead of an orange Fanta makes you want to break down and cry.
  4. You can’t take any more deep, relaxing breaths without blacking out.
  5. Why did you come here anyway? It wasn’t your idea!

Learn from your burnout

We burn out because we push ourselves beyond our limits, mentally, physically or a combination thereof. Our greatest ally, therefore, is knowing our limits so that we don’t speed right past them and hit the wall. When you do exceed your tolerance levels and experience system failure, take the time to recognize what went wrong and why, and what you might have done differently. Maybe you couldn’t have done anything differently—stuff happens. The hope is that next time you’ll be able to see it coming because you know the danger signs. It’s always better to practice preventative care over damage control, but either way, when you play as a team even the hardships won’t be as hard.

Got a warning sign of your own to look out for? Even the small ones add up, so don’t hesitate to share. We’ll all be better off in the long run!