In 2015/16 I suffered from burnout – BIG time. The thing was, I didn’t know it at the time.
I’m sure there were signs but I couldn’t see them until – one day – I didn’t love my business any more.
That was NOT like me at all. What the heck was happening? I was frightened and worried. I had no energy. I had no motivation. My spark had gone.
Then came the cold bugs. The spot breakouts on my face. The need to sleep. A lot. I panicked. A lot. I kept wondering what would happen if this ‘phase’ didn’t pass? What would I do? What would happen to The Girls Mean Business®? What would happen to my family? What would happen to ME?
9 months later and I’m only just coming out of the other end. It took me a LONG time to fall back in love with my business and get my energy back. It was made worse because I kept beating myself up about not being good enough – why couldn’t I just GET PAST this stupid phase and get back to being me?? The harder I pushed, the worse I felt and the less energy I had.
It’s been a horrible journey. I was pretty good at hiding it so you probably didn’t notice but just recently I’ve had emails from my lovely, lovely newsletter subscribers saying ‘Claire, I’m so happy you’ve got your spark back’. It really feels like it – like I HAVE got my spark back and I am determined to keep it.
It means more dog walks and fewer late nights. More boundaries, less pushing. It means more rests, more ‘nana’ naps (I even have a snooze couch in my office!!) and less racing, racing, racing. My lovely friend Kim put it beautifully – she said “Claire, you need to learn to be a tortoise instead of a hare. A FAST tortoise, but a tortoise all the same”. And she’s right – so every time I feel that familiar surge of adrenaline that heralds a BIG IDEA and would usually result in a flurry of frenetic activity I stop. I think. I wait. I remind myself I’m a FAST tortoise. And in doing so I keep burnout at bay.
I asked my lovely clients Dr Bev and Dr Toby of The Burnout Queens to explain what happens when burnout strikes because I certainly didn’t see it coming and I DEFINITELY don’t want it again.
Please read this. It is lovely. It makes so much sense. It might sound very familiar. It might save you a lot of heartache later on and I recommend you follow and check out The Burnout Queens – you never think it will happen to you but you’re usually wrong on this one!
With lots of love, Claire xx
My BFF ‘Denial’ Made Me Burn Out…so we fell out!
Meet my BFF Denial. She has helped me in so many ways throughout my life, both personally and in my business. I could always count on Denial to get me through any busy-ness or crisis. We were so close she knew what I wanted before I did! Now that’s friendship (or so I thought)!
It turns out that having a friend like Denial on my side was my ticket to becoming a reluctant Burnout Queen!
Denial was by my side when I was building my psychology practice. In a year the business grew to six-figures and our expertise was sought after! Fabulous, but it came with a price. When I was working day and night, over-stretched and over-stressed with all the hours of patients, meetings, on top of my PhD research, Denial encouraged me to:
- ignore my body’s aches and pains,
- keep my head down and keep going
- ignore the urge to take a break and ‘grab’ dinner
- stay focused on completing the task, project, obligation no matter what.
All I wanted to do was give in. I felt weak; I just needed to go home and get some sleep. Denial was my rock-solid support. She urged me to dig in, work harder, push through and not lift my head until it was done. I was exhausted and dazed but thanks to her support and driving force, deadlines were met and success secured!
Denial was there for me again when I was feeling unwell with heart palpitations, migraines and serious injuries after a major car accident. She would whisper in my ear, “You don’t have time to be sick. You’ve got to keep going for everybody.” She kept me going…visiting my Dad in hospital, making sure my elderly Mum had groceries, keeping the house perfectly clean, and never missing a day of work. She was absolutely right, there was no time for my own health.
Just keep going, dig deeper, plod on girlfriend!
What a friend. Denial secured my reputation as kind, helpful and always there for everyone, (just the way my Mother had taught me) to my detriment.
Then one day, out of the blue (or so I thought), I fell asleep on the kitchen floor while feeding the cat. Four hours later, with the cat looking bemused at me from his vantage point, my BFF Denial was nowhere to be found! She had thrown me under the bus! She had become someone else’s BFF in an instant.
Without Denial, I had no voice to tell me to ignore myself; no cheerleader to give me the push to keep going. I wanted to run away. Without Denial by my side my world suddenly seemed insurmountable. I couldn’t escape the facts anymore as I began to see the truth of how burnt-out I was!
- Physically, I didn’t feel well.
- I was so exhausted I didn’t want to face another day.
- I was snippy & snappy with everyone who wanted something from me (Didn’t they see I wasn’t well?).
- I could no longer pull ‘it’ out of my hat and keep going (energy bunny had abandoned me too!).
- I was gutted, exhausted, and ashamed that I looked inept and weak (after all I was a therapist who could cope).
Where was my best friend Denial? We are talking infidelity! She had quickly and easily found another woman to befriend and run into the ground; yes another Burnout Queen in the making.
Here’s the good news!
It was the best thing that could have happened to me when Denial disappeared. I was forced to acknowledge myself in small ways and big ways. I learned to meet obligations and responsibilities on my terms. I began to make decisions, choices, and plans that suited my needs first and foremost.
It had to start with me! As I listened to my body and my soul I began to understand…
- when to take a few minutes to breathe,
- when and whom to say ‘No’ to (there are many ways to do this I have found),
- how to get my health back on track (and keep it there),
- how to regain and sustain my energy,
- my need to sleep, to eat, and to respect and honour what I need throughout my day.
Now have a new BFF and her name is ‘Aware’ and she is nothing like ‘Denial’. Aware listens to my inner voice. She knows when I’ve had enough, and she knows when to reach for that extra dream. She responds to my spirit.
Aware gently taps my shoulder and says,
“You are priority one. Without you there isn’t much else”.
Aware has made me realise that when I take care of myself my business works better and I have a better quality of life and love.
If you find yourself in the company of Denial, don’t be afraid or ashamed to walk away from that ‘friendship’ with conviction. Head on over to self-awareness and honesty, trust us it’s more invigorating than scary. When you team up with Aware you open yourself up to all the possibilities and dreams that happen when you live waaayyyy beyond burnout.
Dr Toby & Dr Bev xx The Burnout Queens
About The Burnout Queens:
We are Dr Toby Silverton & Dr Bev McLagan, UK’s leading experts on Burnout for Highly Sensitive Women (HSP’s). Living a life-long dream of moving from Canada to the UK, we coach an international group of women via skype and online. For decades, our combination of psychology and coaching has achieved incredible results with hundreds of women. Our success secret is taking ‘in-depth’ knowledge and turning it into easy solutions for everyday living. Our passion is helping women live a burnout-free lifestyle!
We invite you to visit us at www.theburnoutqueens.com and if you feel it’s time to Defy Ordinary by living a burnout-free lifestyle, join us inside The Realm!