How a personal journey through functional burn-out in the corporate world led me to discover that a “less is more” approach is just as important to creating a healthy body and mind.
The last decade was spent working for 2 of the leading FinTech companies globally in London and Singapore. My mantra was “more is more” and that meant that the more I did, I would be more successful, happy and abundant.
The way I practiced this mantra was the more that I worked, the more commission I made, the better the job title, the bigger the apartment, the more caffeine I drank, the more I exercised, the more supplements I took, the more I read about health… the better off I would be – after all, I had to do more to get more.
I lived this mantra throughout my 20’s and for many years experienced first-hand functional burn-out as a high-achiever on the corporate ladder. I was caught in the throes of constant accumulation, spending and over-doing. Instead of filing my cup, I was filing my time and the only way I related to my body and mind was from a place of “future-tripping”. When I have this I will be happier, when I look like this, life will be better.
On the outside it seemed like I had it all, but on the inside I was miserable and slowly breaking down.
What I later discovered was that this behaviour was a coping mechanism for numbing and soothing the pain that I felt. If you’ve experienced functional burn-out first hand, you know the feeling of a “sleep hangover”, exhaustion and wishing the day to be over before it has even started. In this state, you can’t think straight let alone surrender to just being.
In a desperate bid to become healthier and feel better, I thought that I had to do more, so the more superfoods I consumed, the more I exercised, the more meditation, and the more self-healing guides meant I would be healthier – it was a vicious cycle of “doing”. As a result, the burn-out continued as my nervous system was in overdrive and stress flooded my system.
The turning point was when I hit 30 and parted ways with the top company in my industry, a prestigious sales title and the biggest salary I had earned my whole life.
The Universe had better plans for me and that’s when a lifestyle change shifted my whole mindset to experiencing health and happiness from a “less is more” approach. A career break landed me in Bali and I surrendered to a more simple way of living, less stress, gentle yoga, and a simple diet of mostly plant-based food. This was the a-ha moment as the burn-out symptoms melted away and I had never felt more healthier and happier in my life.
At the start of 2019, I traded my regional sales role in Singapore to live in Bali. I’m now running my own Health Coaching practice, teaching nutrition and holistic health, and helping other professional women to avoid burn-out from a “less is more” sustainable approach.
Building a business from scratch has not come without its ups and downs and I do slip-up from time to time! It’s inevitable when you are doing something you’re passionate about and find yourself pouring all your energy into that. I use this as an opportunity to listen to my body and to connect and grow deeper.
The difference is that my nervous system and I have become friends. It’s a relationship that needs constant work and attention but I know when she is feeling neglected because she tells me (loud and clear!) as the old burn-out symptoms start to re-appear. Thankfully I have the resources now to catch myself and my patterns as I am not prepared to go down that burn-out path again and neither should you.
The advice that I would give to someone on their own health journey is that doing less may be just what you’re looking for, the simple act of just being (not doing) that could have a greater positive impact on your health, try it!
3-Benefits to a “less is more” approach to health:
1) Balances your nervous system.
Are you someone who scrolls your social media all day, someone who is constantly on the go, who’s mind never switches off, and feels stressed. Are you in a constant state of doing? The less you do, the less stimulated your nervous system will be, and the more grounded and relaxed you will feel.
2) Increases creativity, intuition, joy and pleasure.
Your body knows what it needs best. If you give it the space by doing less, you will create extra space to welcome in creativity, intuition, joy and pleasure. The emotions that feed your body is a positive way.
3) You are filling your cup, not filling your time.
Filling your cup is another term for self-care. If you are looking after yourself, naturally you will feel more balanced and healthier. Filling your cup should not be confused with filling your time. Filling your cup could be doing less in terms of resting, recharging, processing experiences, and simply ‘being’ to recharge your batteries so that you can show up as your best self for you and others.
As I write this, I’m taking a couple of days off to integrate after leading a 2-day physical and online retreat for women here in Bali. The retreat was high vibe, emotionally stimulating, incredibly rewarding and so much fun.
This is the opportunity to step into “less is more”, to rest and recharge, and to fill my own cup so that I can better serve my clients in my private health coaching practice, myself and others around me.