When striving for success leaves you burnt out and under the weather
I've spent the last twenty-four hours being quite unlike the person I have recently become. I got home last night, made dinner, had a bath, took time to moisturise my body. I put a podcast on and lay on the sofa cuddling my furbabies and fell asleep there at 8:30. I never fall asleep on the sofa. I woke up, spoke to my other half on the phone and took myself off to bed. I slept for 9 hours straight. This morning I got up, made breakfast, donned my Nan's jumper and lay back on the sofa watching a documentary, accompanied by my trusty cuddle buddy Tina Cat, I cooked a little, did an hour of yoga on the patio with Katie Cat and spent a few hours in the sun, just soaking up the rays, enjoying cups of tea and just being.
I have a wardrobe full of my Nan's clothes, I washed them all as they smelt musty and old having been kept, untouched, in her drawers for years. This jumper was the only thing I haven't washed of hers, and can't bring myself to wash. It was thrown over her chair in her bedroom before she'd gone into hospital and smelt of her. Felt of her in some way I suppose. I can't bring myself to wash that away.
I wandered around the garden, mug in hand and ended up where I always end up when my mind feels a little lost. At the wall, I call it The Thinking Wall. It's just a wall in my garden made of stone, I don't quite know why but since I was 13 or 14 it's the place I've gone to when I need answers. I sat and sipped my tea and allowed myself to just think. I don't remember the last time I had twenty fours of relaxed loveliness, on my own, on purpose, of my own accord.
I made a decision yesterday, enough was enough. My day to day life needs to change because quite frankly, things can't go on as they are.
I've been under the weather since September, I've had the odd week here and there where I've felt like my normal self but in all honestly looking back they've been few and far between. I'm my own worst enemy for jumping back in with two feet first far too soon and falling ill again. I take one step forward to take two steps back.
Why do I do it? Unfortunately it's usually money orientated, I need to earn money, I need to pay my bills, I need to think up a new idea that will earn me more money. All at the detriment of my own health, my own well being, my own happiness.
It's a funny word isn't it, we usually associate it with professional stress, however you can be emotionally burnt out from anything. I feel like a burnt out building, where just the shell is left. Last weekend I spent the most wonderful weekend with Fraser. A full weekend without doing any day job work, I didn't once turn my laptop on to tap away on the blog and I never really thought about social media or having to do anything. I caught quite a few glimpses of the girl I was back in the summer. This carefree, giggling soul who was just content with being.
Psychological burnout is a real thing, it usually hits us after a trauma, big upset, a time of stress and worry, a time of intense anxiety. It's rather good at knocking on our door just as we arrive at "I'll rest/get a good nights sleep/ have a day for me once I've ________" (fill in the blank). Then once we get to that point, if we haven't already fallen at the many hurdles we face along the way, we can't enjoy that time off, the holiday, the rest time because we fall ill and our body makes us rest.
This week I asked myself why I do it? Why do I push myself to and far beyond my limits? Why won't I rest unless I'm physically made to by illness? The answer is simple. I want to be successful. Rest for me, up until now, has been getting in from my day job at 10pm to sit down and work on the blog, hit my pillow at silly o clock to find I can't sleep as my mind whirs, waking up before the sun rises to work out, or work on the blog. Schedule social media, write a quick blog post, clean. All this because I believe I'll eventually be successful if I absolutely jam pack my day and never stop. Never get more than six hours of restless sleep, tossing and turning. Never eating a meal without checking social media for the blog or working on the laptop. Never sitting down to cuddle the cats I adore with all of my being. Never taking the time to sit in the sun and soak up the rays, I'm so lucky to live in Barcelona yet I "never have time" to enjoy it.
What is success?
My instant reaction is to give two handfuls of materialistic answers. Money being top of the list. If I had those things would I be happy? Probably not. In the past year sadness has hit my family more times than it has in the entirety of my life. In all of those situations, could having money have made an ounce of difference? No. Not once. Even if I was the most successful business woman in the world, I couldn't have changed the terrible circumstances, the heart aching news and the horrible events that have unfolded. They're all part of life, and money wouldn't have made a difference at all.
Would it have made life easier? No. There are some things that money just can't make better. It wouldn't have taken away the breaking and aching of my heart, the feeling that the whole world was falling down upon my shoulders. It couldn't eradicate the feeling of drowning, swimming desperately to the surface and gulping air only to be pushed far far down into the deepest depths again. Money can't bring back my Nan and it can't take away the multiple diagnosis' of cancer in my family. Money can't bring back the three family cats that have passed away from old age. It can't take me back in time to the night my beautiful cat Sharon ran out in front of my car so that I could have seen her and popped her inside. It can't stop the anxiety and the worry, the feeling of not being good enough. It can't stop me looking at myself and thinking you could be so much more. You can do so much more, you just have to be better, try harder, eat less, exercise more, work longer hours. It can't give it's approval, it can't make me approve of myself, because even if I had a nice amount of money in the bank right now, it wouldn't be enough. I wouldn't be enough.
What is success?
Happiness. To be happy, and well every day is my new success, and this is what I am going to strive for.
If I'm honest with myself, I know why I keep getting ill. I know that it is due to burnout, stress and worry. It materialises in different ways. At first it was the usual vomiting, and then once I had that under control I started to get migraines, so I began taking magnesium and they stopped. So then I started to grind my teeth, and get colds and the flu, I kept taking things to make myself better. Eventually it has resulted in a very worn out me, with terrible skin and the worst back, shoulder and neck pain I have ever felt. I can take painkillers, and I can stretch out but because I'm not tackling the root of the problem, it'll only manifest itself in another form.
I feel like I'm so tense and my body is so stiff because I'm trying to hold myself together, hold myself up - psychologically and physically. That's what we do isn't it? When times get tough, we plaster a smile on our face, muster every ounce of self preservation we have and hold our chins up high. We grin and bear it.
Most of us will experience burnout at some point in our life. At first we'll believe that we just need a few days of rest and we'll be fine, but we'll quickly realise that it's not that easy. To get over burnout it usually takes a lot longer to recover than the duration of time that we were in that place for. Scary right?
How do you get over burnout?
We all have the answers inside us already. We all know the answers, let's be honest. This is nothing new to any of us but we do need to be reminded.
We need it, we need good, restful sleep, and plenty of it. Our minds and bodies require the Z's to rest, recuperate and recover.
It's obvious and yet something we often forget about when we're caught up with life. Good food. Healthy, nutritious, delicious, wholesome, filling food.
I used to pride myself at being amazing at multi-tasking. It's terrible for us, as humans we aren't wired to multitask and it has a stress inducing effect on our brains. We don't do the job half as well as we would if we put 100% of our focus on it and we actually end up taking more time getting the task in hand done.
Do what makes your soul happy, follow your intuition and aim to feel 'aligned'.
It's different for each and every one of us and deep down you know what feeds you and makes you feel your best. For me it's listening to inspiring podcasts like CTRL ALT DELETE and The Jess Lively Show. It's drinking tea calmly in the sunshine, going for walks and cuddling the cats. Doing yoga, sleeping a little longer, taking a bath and looking after myself properly.
Be Kind To Yourself.
You only have one you. Treat yourself with the upmost respect and love, because that poor soul inside you, that little person who once believed she or he could achieve all of their dreams in the whole wide universe, has been beaten and battered down far too many times. It's about time you're kind to that little one, because no matter what, you've got to believe in you. You've got to trust your intuition, and you've got to learn to be enough. Only you know how to do that. I hope if nothing else , this post is insightful, maybe it'll help someone out, I hope it makes you think kind thoughts about yourself and cut yourself a little slack, because you are every kind of wonderful. Take time for yourself, love yourself. Remember, you must first care for yourself in order to care for others - Cheesey and a clinché but those things usually ring far too true for our liking.
You are enough. You always will be.