Once every few years (sometimes more) things feel really unmanageable. Cortisol runs through my veins and there’s a pit of never ending tummy complaints, headaches, uncontrollable weeping and often days where the desire is to not get out of bed.
I‘m an A type personality who tends to go-go-go until I fall into a heap.
I hear the niggles but ignore the warning signs. Why?
In my 10 year career in human services I have come close to burn out at least twice and I reckon I am on the verge again if I don’t shift things up. Things like self care start to skip, sleep decreases, exercise is minimal, diet goes south and working hours increase. That can only go on for so long before your body says ‘ahoy there’!
1. Know the signs
It’s so important that you know your signs. Each of us have different smoke signals that our body sends out when things are getting a little cray cray.
For me, it generally starts with my mood. I’m tired and irritated and not so pleasant to be around. But let’s face it usually other people are the first to notice rather than ourselves. Then it usually goes to my body in physical signs or symptoms. Often it’s heightened emotions and uncontrollable crying, brittle nails and dull skin… and when things are bad I start to get little cuts in the corners of my mouth.
2. Shift things up
Now we can’t all quit our jobs or spend days in bed but we can make some subtle changes to start bringing some equilibrium back. We need to make sustained changes over time and as much as I love a 3 hour pamper session at the local day spa it’s not sustainable nor does it yield long lasting benefits.
Things like sleep, meditation and self care are proven to be good for our mental health and these are what we should focus on. What’s even better is this is all totally free and you can do half of them from anywhere!
Now I am not perfect… no one is. I occasionally let my self care slip but if it goes on too long our physical and mental health pay the price.
My go-to self care tools are:
- intuitive daily perfumes from my essential oil collection
- guided meditations (abraham hicks is the bomb!)
- epsom salt baths with essential oils
- dancing (to really loud tunes)
- session with my foam roller
- ice blue or aroma touch massages
- take a mental health day
- connecting with nature
- moving my tooshie
- cuddles with my son
- soul chat with my hubby
- a good sweat session (sauna, run, boxing etc)
- waking chat with a bestie
- nourishing warming meals
- hot cup of cacao / herbal tea
3. Ask for help
Often when we are stressed out and nearing burn out we try so hard to look like we are holding it all together. This is partly due to the stories we tell ourselves that we ‘should’ be able to cope and the way society seems to knock down the people who are already down.
With a turning of the tides it is so important we spread the word around things like anxiety, stress and mental to help others to put their hands up. It’s ok to not be ok!
‘This too shall pass’ is a mantra I often repeat and remind friends of when times get tough. Sometimes it helps just knowing that these periods do pass and is critical to being able to move through them.
But sometimes in order to move through them we need help.
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness and can come in many forms.
It might be a friend coming to help with the kids, cutting back your hours at work temporarily, asking your partner to do some extra things around the house – it might even be paying someone to help prepare meals or a house cleaner.
Asking for help might also involve seeking professional support from a counselor or psychologist. I’ve seen many over the years and as a social worker myself I see a lot of value in talking therapy. Often when things get to the point of feeling like burn out there’s usually more than one cause and it’s important to know what each contributing factor is so you can see the signs in advance in case there’s a ‘next time’.
Let me know below your go-to strategies to help when things get tough 👇🏻
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