How self care can help prevent burnout
I experienced a build up of stress, overwhelm and anxiety when I faced several challenges that came along in mid-life. As a result I suffered burnout.
This resulted in a break down on holiday, actually, on a Greek beach. The rest of the week was spent with regular bouts of tears and by day four I didn't recognise myself when I looked in the mirror. The toll of having to cope with difficult circumstances over a long period caught up with me.
So how did this happen? I was fairly fit and healthy but the difficulties that came along were just too much. Taking care of everyone else became my focus and my needs simply dropped off my priority list and into oblivion.
Keeping up with the pace of life can often drain our energy. Sometimes stuff just comes along out of the blue wherever we are in our lives. Sailing along nicely one minute then riding the waves the next. Our ability to cope when this happens can rely on one thing, how we look after ourselves. Placing self-care at the heart of our wellbeing is crucial for how cope.
Figures in the last year reveal that that in the UK 74% of people have felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope, say the Mental Health Foundation. Meanwhile the Health and Safety Executive released figures that 15.4 million working days were lost as a result of work related stress.
How did this happen? There’s no doubt that the change of pace in life has crept up over time, leading to a big shift in the way we live our lives. The digital revolution has brought us ever more smarter tech, mobiles, TV’s, play stations, email, apps and social media can keep us continuously switched on. If we choose. Meanwhile there’s a mind boggling choice for just about everything we need (and don’t need) in our lives. Often we are always in thinking and doing mode with less of just ‘being’ in life.
You’ve likely heard of self-care, it’s a much used term these days but what does it actually mean? Self-care includes just about anything you to do be good to yourself. It’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to others. It’s partly about knowing when your resources are running low, and stepping back to replenish them rather than letting them all drain away. Looking after yourself first and knowing what you need to do to stay healthy can make you more resilient when life takes a turn.
It also involves self-compassion in your life. There’s no need to be hard on yourself, compare yourself to others or set impossible to meet goals. We’re all human, you’re absolutely fine as you are and perfection really doesn’t exist!
Self-care activities can help you to be the best version of you, in mind, body and spirit. It can be as going outside for a walk, saying no to unwanted requests, getting a good nights sleep, taking a nap when you feel tired, or doing something that brings you joy.
As a wellbeing life coach, I see many people who are struggling with overwhelm. My belief is that prioritising self care in our lives is like having wellbeing insurance. Experiment, decide what works for you and prioritise it – put it in your diary or calendar and keep your promise to yourself.
During my recovery I looked for ways to bring my energy back. I found out how living in the moment can help to slow things down and bring calm. How meditation helps you connect with yourself and how you feel. I raised my energy levels and lifted my mood through exercise. I learned how to recognise when things started to get out of balance, becoming more aware of my thoughts, and emotions.
The truth is you can’t look after anyone else if you aren't feeling well yourself. Self-care is good for our health, helping us be the best we can be. It boosts our energy levels, and helps us to cope when the going gets tough. And why wouldn’t we want that?
Suzy Reading’s book ‘the self-care revolution’ is a great source of inspiration and offers a host of self-care ideas and activities.
If you’re going through difficult times, having difficulty coping or want to make changes in your life, get in touch. I’d love to help.