Almost four years ago I was bedridden for just shy of a month (and weak/unwell for sometime after it). I didn't know what was wrong with me, when or if it would stop. It was terrifying. I couldn't work, care for my daughter or really do anything except sleep and lie in bed.
So how did this come about?
Well the short version is that I burned out.
My body had had enough of working hard, pushing myself like crazy, parenting, finishing a PhD and all.the.things.
I had ignored it, almost completely and just kept going.
I was sure that there were no other options and no other way to do it.
That brings me to the first thing I learned from burning out…
Lesson 1. There is always a better option than burning out.
A million options, actually. You are just clinging so hard to what you think is true (thoughts aren’t facts!) that you might not be able to see it. I guarantee people around you are giving you some ideas though. How about you listen to them and try one?
Lesson 2. Burnout takes a long time to recover from.
Please rest well, unwind your mind and body and do what you can to prevent burnout. It takes a long time to recover from and unless you start doing things differently you will keep a cycle of overwork, stress and burnout going over and over :(
Lesson 3. Listen to your body.
Sounds cliche but it’s true. Your body knows what it needs (and what you need, because you are one in the same!). The more you ignore it the more things will go down the drain internally, even if you are killing it at work - I was, I know!
Lesson 4. Don’t believe all your thoughts.
Some of the key thoughts I believed that lead to burn out were:
‘No one else can do this but me and I can’t let everyone down’ (it turned out lots of other people did the same work outside my institution and no one was let down inside the institution).
‘Work is so competitive and there are so few jobs I have to take every opportunity and do everything I can do stay employable and employed’ (It was hyper-competitive but I could have been more strategic and stayed well, which was a better long game).
Lesson 5. Life is better if you learn the lessons of burnout.
BUT please don’t burn out. I often joke to clients that I’ve done it for them and so I can stop them going through what I did. That’s why I teach them how to work effectively and wonderfully with their own minds and bodies - to live rich, successful lives that feel great.
What about you? What will you do to prevent burnout?
Hi, I'm Dr Lara Corr, life coach and researcher in work and wellbeing. I coach successful 30 and 40 somethings who want more fulfilling or bigger careers but doubt themselves and their options. I help them get out of their own way, find direction and go for what they really want.