As a wellbeing coach and mindfulness & yoga teacher, you’d think I’d know exactly what to do to halt the collapse into full blow burnout! Today, maybe, but a few years ago I was in complete denial. My business was successful; I had close and supportive family and friends and I was financially secure, but something wasn’t right. Every day was a struggle; I was overwhelmed by other people’s pain. I began to dread appointments and I was incapable of making even the simplest decision.
I told myself if I meditated more, exercised more, journaled more, slept more – everything would be fine. It wasn’t, and it was only when I accepted what was happening and asked for help that I began to recover.
How do you know you’re heading for burnout?
Symptoms can include emotional detachment, exhaustion, withdrawal, frequent illness, irritability and feelings of being overwhelmed. If you drag yourself out of bed, dread your appointments and no longer want to spend time with your friends or family, even online, something isn’t right. The first step is to admit that to yourself.
What nourishes you? / What drains you?
Sit down with a pen and paper and write a list of the things that nourish you and the things that drain you. This exercise prompted me to make some major changes. I dropped one of my most popular therapies, cut my working hours and changed the number of classes I was teaching. I shifted the focus of my practice. I made space between my clients: it was only 15 minutes, but it was space to breathe. I eat lunch! I walk my dogs and I’ve stopped booking clients into spaces I’d set aside for other things.
Self-care is NEVER selfish
We know self-care isn’t selfish, but do we practice it? Take care of yourself first, and you will be in a much better position to care for other people. I take time every day to do something that nourishes me – creative activities are great for this (as long as you let go of the need to be good).
Be kind to yourself. It is ok not to be ok. Sometimes the most nurturing thing you can do for yourself is to lie on the floor and do absolutely nothing for a few minutes.
Boundaries are important, even more so now, when so many of us are working from home. Set your working hours and stick to them, schedule self-care and switch off your electronics – a digital day off is wonderful and the world will still be there when you reconnect.
Routine is your friend
Create morning and evening rituals that set you up for the day and allow you to wind down at night. Don’t use them to beat yourself up though, treat yourself, have a bath, take time away from your phone and do a little journaling. Connect with someone. Eat something delicious. Take a little time to be creative.