A time like no other - the last 18 months have had us don capes and become superhuman! We’ve cared for our families old and young, we’ve home schooled, lived our lives on Zoom - we've become mask wearing multi-taskers, googling indoor activities, new recipes, online exercise classes and the new MUST watch box sets and Netflix lists (plus vaccine side effects more often than we should!) - all the while holding down jobs!
Demands on us all have become totally unrealistic, with a whopping 60% of us admitting to feeling far more stressed than we did pre-covid; we wanted to just drop a reminder that you're doing a great job! However you care for you, make sure you're making the time - as the old saying goes; "you can't pour from an empty cup!" So the burning question - at some point over the last weeks and months have you asked yourself if you could be suffering from Burnout? 99% of the time in normal circumstances – we’d say we’re just exhausted, but this time is it ok to simply repeat to ourselves, “Only a few more weeks until we get a break - just dig a little deeper!” How motivated are you? With the return to ‘normal’ life?Are you excitedly planning as many social events as possible? Or feeling anxious about what you once took in your stride? BELIEVE us when we say – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you’re no longer enjoying things in the way that you used to, or have a feeling of dread at the thought of returning to the office; maybe something bigger is going on. There could be a few reasons for this, we've explored some thoughts below and hope they may resonate with some of you, quite often knowing it’s ok to admit you're struggling a little is half the battle!
1. Could you be too harsh on yourself?
Perfectionists can have a higher risk of burnout that others with a more relaxed or ‘realistic’ approach to the daily grind. For those of us (Sian and I included!), with this mindset, feel the need to do EVERYTHING!
It sounds great to your Boss, your Husband, PTA Mum’s and friends that you love, to make sure that everything is done to a level you feel is acceptable; but that’s easy when all they have to do is sit back and await the ‘perfection’ to be delivered with a smile! If the finer details don’t quite work out from time to time, it’s important to stop, take a breath and realise that it’s acceptable to not be running at full pelt, delivering your best work 100% of the time. We simply cannot be all things to everyone!
2. Am I Working Too Much?
Ok so some of us may still not currently have the daily commute to and from the office - perhaps for some of us it will won't resume in the same way again, however it’s important to ensure that you can hold onto that extra time we’ve had more than ever!
Some of us have been lucky enough to be emerging feeling some pretty fundamental changes have been made to our everyday lives – carving our time to exercise and take care of ourselves far better – others like myself, Sian and lots of other women I know, have in actual fact doubled down on the over-doing it and will emerge even more bloody knackered and unfit! It’s time to ask ourselves how much are we working? But REALLY how much are we working? It’s reasonable to assume that over the last year, you’ve actually felt like you’ve never worked harder – we’ve been on round the clock with little or no days off as too grateful to have held onto our jobs! Our phones, WhatsApp, emails and messages have become a free for all 24/7. The relentless zoom meetings and calls, ‘organised fun’ zooms and “I’ll just finish that after I get the kids down”. Having no lines of demarcation between our working day ending and official ‘me time/family time’ has meant we’re all working even more than we did and WAY more than we currently realise. The solution sounds simple but it’s one that should be viewed as vital! Where possible, stay focused and be at your most effective during ‘work hours’ set official deadlines for yourself, even a calendar alert or reminder of these times so as not to stray. Try to remember to be realistic however, as setting yourself a huge to do list forgoing a lunch break or any time to just get up and clear your head, will be counteractive and could mean an even longer day. When planning, try to break down jobs into 5 min jobs, 30 min jobs or tasks that will take more than an hour and prioritize the absolute HAVE to be done first. Initially, there’s a chance it could feel like you’re adding more pressure, BUT a little more structure and routine in creating boundaries between ‘home life’ and ‘work life’ will help to give each day a start and an end which in the current climate could well prove vital in our daily mindset!
3. Sleeping badly?
Not every bedroom sees the perfect 7 hours - I’m currently looking for a face cream that will stop me looking like I haven’t slept for the last 3 years …(please always smile at parents of tiny people, you never know if they just lost another battle with their toddler!) For others it could be the worry of ageing parents – especially in the current climate with the fear of new variants derailing our progress so far. Alternatively, you could be worrying about your teenager having missed out on valuable independence and life experiences over the last months. Are you experiencing anxiety in relation to finances or work with lockdown affecting so many livelihoods? Whatever the reason you’re missing out on valuable Zzzzz’s it’s time to try and doze off!
So how can we attempt to get back into a good sleep routine? We all know about caffeine and screen time as bedtime approaches, but think routine and repetitive actions. It’s all about patterns which help the brain to naturally wind down flicking the switch to auto-pilot and in turn relaxation. For some it’s taking a long hot bath, for others it’s sleep-inducing nutrients from diet or supplements, also recommended by many is visualisation – are you back on that beach in Barbados re-tracing your steps feeling the heat of the sun on your back, or perhaps on your favourite country walk with the dog recalling the bends in the road or undulations of the of the fields and paths. Another technique I use myself is to imagine pairing outfits in your wardrobe and hanging them together – sounds crazy but when you know the objects you’re visualising the brain isn’t working hard to recall details and therefore enters something like a power down or sleep mode – I almost NEVER get passed the second shelf of jumpers!
If you’re still adding to your to do list, recalling an email that needs to be sent or find yourself making tea at 4am after that little pep talk, it’s time to strike a match and burn the candle.
Allow the aroma from our Burnt Out blend to breathe life back into a tired soul. Let the blend of Valerian, English Chamomile and Lavender, envelope and wrap you up in a swaddle of aroma that forces even the hardest shell to stop and soften. Resilience and tenacity are strengths until they start to do us harm - draw a line in the sand, forget the baggage and relax!
So 2021, while you are still here testing us daily more than a year on – it’s time to strike the match, burn the candle and discover the antidote …….