Burnout, is not a journey for the fainthearted and as I sat with my head in my hands, I finally admitted the truth.
In order for this to make sense I have to rewind, take you back to an afternoon with my coach, an afternoon which shifted and changed my life on its axis. I was part of a mastermind and on that day it was my turn for feedback on a business, that I had been running for five years. As my coach approached me round the big boardroom table, she placed both hands on my shoulders and said these words “I don´t think your business is making you happy!”.
Before my brain had a chance to make sense of her words, my defenses were up as words came spilling out of my mouth of “Don´t be ridiculous, of course I love my business, its my baby, I have people relying on me”. And she in return just nodded her head in a knowing way and moved on to the next person. At the time, that one statement felt like someone had just run in, thrown my business under a bus and runaway again. I wasn´t sure how to take it, but pondered it all the way home on the train.
When I arrived home, I shared the statement with my family who were sat around the dinner table eating. When out of the mouth of my 5 year old son, came these words, just to cement the observation as a truth I needed to accept. He said
She´s right Mummy, you are always so grumpy!!!
As I sat in silence and listened to him talk I realised they were both right. I had created a business to have more time to spend with my children, but worked longer and harder than I ever had working for someone else. As I got into bed that night I made the decision to close my business down, place 35 members of staff in private deals with their clients, and dedicate my life to a new path, that I didn´t yet have any idea of.
And it was then, that burnout raised it´s ugly head, where exhaustion kicked in as I finally gave myself permission to STOP!
Somewhere on my journey of working and running a business, I had picked up the belief that multi-tasking was to be revered, that working every hour God gave me was a sign of being worthy of running a business and that putting myself at the bottom of my to do list was admirable. So why could everyone else see the truth of my life, even my five year old could, when I was oblivious.
Because I had never been taught to balance my energy, to honour what I needed to function, give myself permission to say no. So today I want to share with you my five tops tips to navigate the divide between burnout and wellbeing.
1. Prioritise your Self-Care
This one sounds obvious but I am not talking about pamper days, or massages although these are very nice, I am talking about activities that regularly nourish your mind, body and soul. Setting time aside to just “Be” rather than the need to be constantly in your head and in the “Doing” aspects of life. Now for each of us this will look different, for some it will be reading and resting, for others paddleboarding in nature, but by getting in tune with what your body is actually saying to you and honouring it has been shown to enhance self-confidence (64%), increase productivity (67%), and happiness (71%).
2. Set Boundaries
One of the easiest ways to set boundaries is to learn this “No, is a complete sentence”(thanks mum for that). When we feel guilt for putting our needs ahead of others we can often talk ourselves out of saying no. We explain ourselves, apologise for having a life, you people pleasers will know exactly what I am talking about here. Having boundaries, strong boundaries allow us to weed out those commitments that can push us into overwhelm us and cause undue stress. I will just say here that when we put a new boundary in place, you will get push back on it, but stay your ground. In saying “No” to others needs you are saying “yes” to yours.
3. Practice Stress Management Techniques
One of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce those heightened emotions is through our breathing. As a HeartMath Practitioner i have found it so simple and so effective as have my clients and what´s even better it´s scientifically proven to reduce and regulate those emotions that can threaten to push you into the stress zone or worse yet burnout. Other options include exercise, journalling and my favourite gratitude. Invest in adding small micro moments during the day that will help to keep stress in check.
4. Build a Support Network
Having a strong support network is one of the sure fire ways to bolster your resilience in times of adversity. You don´t need a huge group of people but even a trusted few that you can reach out to when feeling overwhelmed, that you trust to provide an open space of trust and an empathetic listening ear, can boost morale. On this note, never feel that it is a sign of weakness to ask for help, it not only takes courage, but it enables other people to feel useful, to feel good that you trusted them to open up.
5. Learn to be Self-Compassionate
Many of you walking the tightrope between burnout and wellbeing, will be masters at offering help and support to others but find doing the same for yourself difficult. But as the psychologist and self-compassion expert Kristen Neff says, adversity, burnout, failure, and things not going to plan are part of the human experience. It´s time to move away from the stiff upper lip mentality when we are feeling pain and ignoring our feelings and needs and offer ourselves the warmth, understanding, care and attention we would offer to others.
With so many of us spinning a 101 plates with our personal and professional life, it can often take just one simple thing to push us into overwhelm and burnout. The journey into burnout can be quick, lightening quick for me just a couple of weeks, although it had probably been brewing for years, but it doesn´t need to be that way. Being more conscious of how we feel, sense checking these five things on a regular basis can help us navigate life with more ease. and hopefully avoid negatively impacting our wellbeing.