2020 has seriously thrown us about - talk about shock and chaos and unpredictability and extremes. There seems to be extremes everywhere at the moment -it is either too much work and pressure or none at all.
Life has been challenging in a new way for everyone this year. How has it effected you?
I have noticed a pattern lately with a lot of my clients (and in my own personal life) - the exhaustion and pressures from the year are catching up with us all - dealing with burnout is a conversation I have had a lot this month.
We are all dealing with added pressures on our daily lives these past 8 months as well as a mental, emotional and spiritual rollercoaster of uncertainty, demands, mixed feelings, anxieties and changes. There has been an underlying insidious current to the constantly shifting tides which has left us all feeling ungrounded to say the least.
Frustrations have arisen in all areas of life – home and family life, from the anxiety for the wellbeing of family members to the impact on our kids and young people.
Pressures and obstacles around work & business, finances, planning for the future.
A gaping hole in our social circles, not seeing friends and family, not experiencing the richness of life, not looking forward to the next celebration or holiday or get together.
It was clear from the success of the Toy Show appeal that people are hungry for connection and community and in many ways the Toy Show showed more Christmas spirit this year than ever before with the focus on people rather than product placement, would you agree?
On a positive note, life’s priorities have come into question for every individual which has led to new and exciting choices and opportunities appearing too, so it’s not all bad.
Any change or progression will feel a little uncomfortable and no one can deny that 2020 has been outside most people’s comfort zones so personal growth is inevitable.
But for many the pressures have been consistently mounting and it is coming to a head...
So what is burnout and how can you see it coming?
Burnout is a confusing experience, it is exhaustion, fatigue, chronic stress, depression and a sense of being drained on every level – it is multi-faceted, and everyone will experience it differently depending on their own circumstances.
Some people describe it as a sense of hopelessness, nothingness, there’s an ‘I don’t care anymore’ feeling to it that is hard to shake off.
It can show up as insomnia, foggy brain, forgetfulness, a loss of appetite or the opposite, a need to binge on chocolate to escape the feelings. It can cause anxiety, illness, physical discomfort, headaches. It can bring up feelings of anger, pessimism and detachment or apathy.
I have experienced it myself (my family can attest to this) – unfortunately it came to a head on Christmas Day (of all days) several years ago. My heart was on the floor, my energies were all askew, I knew what I wanted to experience with my family but I couldn't access those feelins, I couldn't reach it. I could not shift the darkness and bleakness I was feeling – it was pretty miserable to say the least. I felt empty and knowing how I was affecting others around me added an extra layer of frustration, guilt and regret.
Looking back I know that I got to that point because I was doing and doing and doing…but all the doing was for everyone else, I had nothing left for me and ultimately, when it came to it, for the most precious people in my life.
For me, it was a cry for help from the version of me that was not being heard – my needs and wants and priorities were all drowning in the way I was living and working.
Burnout is a deep need for self-care and for a reshuffle of priorities in both your actions and your thinking. It can creep up on you and can take hold unexpectedly – in work or career terms it tends to happen to those people who push on, doing something they are really good at but that they no longer enjoy.
Often it feels wrong to leave a job that you’re evidently good at and that people praise you for but if you gain zero enjoyment and satisfaction from what you’re doing, you are in the burnout zone.
I was in that zone for far too long in my career which is why I now coach others to ensure they excel and go after fulfilment and happiness through their work - fully as themselves.
So what can you do to combat it?
Assess your current experience and start paying attention to what drains you and what energises you and find ways to reduce and relieve some of the stress in your life.
Focus on the immediate to begin with, destressing in the now so that you can then look towards a future that has built in burnout warning signs (these come from tuning in and builidng up your self knowlede) and prevention tactics! In the long term, you basically need to give yourself the chance to be happy by living in alignment with what matters most to you.
You need to STOP and rest, take a step back, call in some self-compassion and start treating yourself as you do others, with respect. There is only so much you can do in any given day. There’s only one of you. It is so much more empowering for you to look after yourself. Read that again.
Stop trying to fix things, stop striving for the next thing, just BE and breathe and do whatever you need to do to gain some perspective.
The answer is as unique as you are but here are a few suggestions:
A day with friends, hiking in the mountains, a walk on the beach, movie night by the fire, meditation, energy healing/cleansing, writing, singing, music, creativity, art, sports, a commitment to making lasting change, a powerful decision to finally taking action on that career move or career change or lifestyle change you’re constantly dreaming of.
Practice saying NO - you can protect your own boundaries in a very respectful and friendly way with the people in your life/your clients/colleagues. Try it once and you will see that the sky will not fall in. The second time is much easier.
Commit to a device cut-off time in the evening - give your mind and soul a chance to unwind, allow the cortisol levels to fall before going to sleep - this will make a huge difference. This is an example of a commitment to self-care. (I am doing my best to implement this one myself at the moment - I am not always successful but I am very mindful of it and when I do succeed, I see a real difference!)
You know yourself what brings you a sense of joy and peace and rest and recuperation. How can you build some of that into your life today, this week and in the next 12 months?
What would life look like without burnout and exhaustion, without the resistance and struggle? Plan for that life, the one you deserve to live. For now - give yourself a break, in every way.
Don't hesitate to contact me - we can have a chat about your experience of burnout
and how to move past it
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