You’re at rock bottom – you are exhausted and constantly stressed out. You might think the only way forward is to keep plodding along but feeling like this is the wake-up call you need. Burnout can teach us to stop and evaluate where we are and start to practice self care on a much bigger level. Self care is not trite, cliched or indulgent – it’s essential and you will burn out without it.
- It teaches you to be kind and show self compassion
Up to this point self compassion hasn’t been your top priority. You’ve’ probably been trying to get everything thing just ‘right’ and setting impossible targets for yourself. Then other people have done the same – putting more pressure on you. A lot of people who burnout are very competent, perfectionistic and approachable. They make life easy for others by being good at what they do and being happy to do it. I don’t think you should suddenly put up a brick wall and be like “uh-oh there’s no way I’m doing this, Girlfriend!” but we do all need boundaries. You know the saying “if you want something doing ask a busy person”. It should probably read “if you want something doing ask a person who is competent and won’t say no”. The irony is that this kind of person shows great compassion to others but not to themselves. Self compassion is not a weakness it’s a huge strength. Try Dr Kristin Neff Self Compassion Test to help you raise awareness and find practices that will work for you.
- It teaches you that your body and mind need to be a well oiled machine
If your body is no longer willing to work 125 hours a week and your mind is shutting down – you just have to do the little things. When we are heading to burnout we find it difficult to take anytime to relax, see our friends, sleep properly and eat well. All these things help you to relax and nourish yourself. If you’re not sleeping your body is not repairing itself and you will find you have less resilience to deal with things. Your mind and body will need to focus on your base needs.. Getting great sleep, eating well and taking time out. Everyone is more productive when they rest but if we are in a place when we don’t believe or practice this we may go under. Our bodies do amazing things for us, as do our overworked minds – If we literally never switch off we will break down. Have a phone free night. Focus on just relaxing for one day or even just close your eyes for 10 minutes. You will be so much better for it.
- It teaches you to evaluate your working life
Hitting rock bottom and burning out means you often start to look at your work situation and how it affects you. We are more and more switched on these days and it seems almost lazy of us to not respond to emails and phone calls in our own time. It’s become an acceptable part of daily life that really needs to change, if we don’t want problems to stack up. I believe it should be banned like it is in France. It’s become so woven into our culture that we are struggling to disengage from it even if we choose as individuals to do so. Being overwhelmed is like being in a swimming pool trying frantically to keep yourself afloat. The weight of the water dragging you down. You might need to take some water out or get some more armbands to help you stay up – either way you can start to take things out of your life that don’t work. Work is a huge pillar of stress and anxiety in our lives. I love the ethos of Screw the Nine to Five if you’re looking for change by being your own boss and starting a new business or changing your job by looking at Careershifters. You might not be in the right place to make big changes right now but just opening your eyes will help you see there maybe an alternative.
- It teaches you to step into your real self.
Once you taken the time you need to restart your batteries and take some much needed self care – you will start to see the world in a different way. Your beliefs and values may have shifted – you might have to go from full-on all-out perfectionist to a ‘good enough warrior’. You might have beliefs about being busy and how that validates your life or you may, like me, have discovered a simpler, calmer life. .
Next in this series: What self care looks like and how to fit into your life. As well as a workbook to help you live this practices. Sign up in the sidebar and be the first to receive your free copy.