My Burnout Reading list

My Burnout Reading list

I’ve been on quite a journey of transformation myself over the last three years. These are the books that helped me learn, grow, let things go and turn my life around. Some were new reads and others are books I’ve read over time and time again or dip into when I need a reminder or a burst of inspiration.

Here is my burnout reading list:

* Please note: this page contains affiliate links which could earn me a small commission but doesn’t cost you any extra. And of course, I will never recommend anything to you that I haven’t tried and liked. Promise. For more details see my disclosure policy and privacy policy.

Self-help & Personal Development

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

Lifeshocks: and how to love them, Sophie Sabbage

Tuesdays With Morrie: An old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson, Mitch Albom

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brené Brown

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Rising Strong, Brené Brown

The Rules Of Life: A personal code for living a better, happier, more successful kind of life, Richard Templar

The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, Shel Silverstein

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Sarah Knight

Spirituality

The Power Of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle

The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

The Secret, Rhonda Byrne

The Universe Has Your Back: How to Feel Safe and Trust Your Life No Matter What, Gabrielle Bernstein

Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Daily Meditations For Practicing The Course, Karen Casey

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise L. Hay

Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche, Bill Plotkin

Embracing Our Selves: The Voice Dialogue Manual, Hal Stone, Ph.D. and Sidra L. Stone, Ph.D.

Psychology

Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, Joe Dispenza, D.C.

Man’s Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust, Viktor E. Frankl

Sane New World: Taming the Mind, Ruby Wax

The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine, M.D.

Personal Effectiveness

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Simon Sinek

Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done Today, Brian Tracy

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

Manage Your Mind: The Mental Fitness Guide, Gillian Butler and Tony Hope

Philosophy

Women Who Run With The Wolves: Contacting The Power Of The Wild Woman, Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, Gabor Maté

Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.

Yoga

Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Saraswati Satyananda Swami

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, William J. Broad

Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: An Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners, H. David Coulter

Bhagavad Gita – Text and Commentary, Sivananda Swami

Top 10 Stress Busting Tips

Top 10 Stress Busting Tips

WHAT IS STRESS?

Stress is defined as “The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them…” (HSE UK).

The pressures you’re dealing with may come from a number of different sources, and when their combined effect is overwhelming, stress occurs.

Stress is an unhealthy state of body, or mind, or both so managing the stress of work and life are essential to your wellbeing.

SO HOW CAN WE MANAGE STRESS?

Here are ten positive approaches to managing stress from ISMAUK (International Stress Management Association.

 

1. Learn to manage your time more effectively
We waste a lot of time doing unimportant tasks, especially when stressed, so prioritise your day and do the important jobs first. The unimportant ones can wait, and often they will disappear completely leaving you time to do other things. Also, do not put off the unpleasant tasks – avoidance causes a great deal of stress. Give unpleasant tasks a high priority and do them first.

 

2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
If we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and ensure we get adequate sleep and rest, our body is then better able to cope with stress, should it occur. If this is not the case, then this may be a warning sign so don’t ignore it. Engaging in some form of physical activity may help you by working off the biochemical and physical changes that occur within your body due to stress. Relaxation also helps your body return to its normal healthy state. Good relaxation techniques, include breathing exercises, massage and a variety of complimentary therapies can all help.

 

3. Know your limitations and do not take on too much
We can cause ourselves a great deal of stress because we do not want to let people down. We then end up doing more than we should. Learn to delegate effectively and be assertive so that you can say ‘No’ without feeling guilty yourself, or upsetting or offending others.

 

4. Find out what causes you stress
Take time to discover what is worrying you and try to change your thoughts and behaviour(s) to reduce it. A stress assessment can help you to fully understand the causes, the implications to your health and how to manage, cope and make any necessary changes.

 

5. Avoid unnecessary conflict
Do not be too argumentative. Is it really worth the stress? Look for win – win situations. Look for a resolution to a dispute where both parties can achieve a positive outcome. Find out what the real cause of the problem is and deal with it.

 

6. Accept the things you cannot change
Changing a difficult situation is not always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on all that you do have control over. Managing change effectively is essential or else performance will be reduced.

 

7. Take time out to relax and recharge your batteries
You will perform more effectively during work if you regularly take a short 10 / 15 minute break, easily making up the time you used relaxing. Alongside this, at least one annual break of at least 10-14 continuous days is recommended.

 

8. Find time to meet friends
Friends can ease work troubles and help us see things in a different way. The activities we engage in with friends help us relax and we will often have a good laugh. It boosts the immune system that is often depleted during stress.

 

9. Try to see things differently, develop a positive thinking style
If something is concerning you, try to see it differently. Talk over your problem with somebody before it gets out of proportion. Often, talking to afriend/colleague/family member will help you see things from a different and less stressful perspective. You may also need to consider professional help in order to achieve the desired outcome and prevent ill health and / or burnout.

 

10. Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine as coping mechanisms
Long term, these faulty coping mechanisms will just add to the problem. For example, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants – too much and the body reacts to this with the stress response, increasing or even causing anxiety symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant.

**Download free PDF**
Top-Ten-Stress-Busting-Tips-F2-ISMAUK

Dump Your To-Do List

Dump Your To-Do List

DAY 2: 10 DAYS OF WELLBEING

Today’s message won’t take you very long to read, but it will take you just a little longer to action…

But it’s worth it. It’s a really beneficial exercise to help stop your mind spinning with all those things you feel you ‘should’ be doing and letting go of some of the stress that creates.

 

DUMP YOUR TO-DO LIST

Don’t panic. I’m not suggesting that you bin it completely.

But let’s get your mental task list out of your head where it’s all spinning around with what feels like a million other things.

 

HOW DO I DO THAT?

By emptying your mind of all your things To-Do by putting them onto One List. That One List becomes your ‘Second Brain’.

Your Second Brain will hold your To-Do List safely, securely and all in one place. That way you can save your actual brain for having ideas and inspiration, not for desperately trying to store them all.

This time, before you start to collect your thoughts do have a think about what method works best for you to keep your list. There are many productivity, project management and To-Do Apps out there… Asana, Trello, ToDoist, Wrike… to name but a few. You might be a fan of a spreadsheet to keep track of lists or still prefer good old pen and paper. Just consider what will be the best way for you to get a list of everything into one place.

 

CAPTURE EVERYTHING

Then sit down, start your list and keep going. List EVERYTHING.

Grab that mail that you haven’t yet gotten around to sorting. Find those little scraps of paper with notes and reminders. If like me you use more than one notebook, get them all and put all the lists together. Everything. Appointments you need to remember, calls you need to make, things you need to buy, jobs you want to get done around the house, projects you’d like to get started, trips you’re planning on making. Capture it ALL.

I know this feels overwhelming, but once they’re in one place, you have already created some sort of order.

 

BUT I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO!

How the BLEEP is this meant to help my Wellbeing?! It’s just reminded me of the 4,073 things I haven’t done yet!

Yes but now they’re not ‘nagging’ you constantly, pecking at your head causing a flurry of panic.

They’re all in one place. That way, you’ll know they’re safe, you haven’t lost anything. You do need to start putting them in some sort of order. But you don’t need to overtax your brain trying to remember everything.

 

GET YOUR LIST IN ORDER

There are a plethora of Productivity and Time Management Methods to choose from to help you prioritise and manage your To-Do List. But to get you started just ask yourself a few questions:
* Do I really need to / have to do this? If not, DELETE.
* Do I want to do this? If possible, DELETE. Or…
* Can I give it to someone else to do?
* It’s been on my list for months, am I really going to do this? If not, DELETE. Trust me, it will still be there in another 3 months, might as well delete it now.
* Is there anything URGENT (that’s urgent to you, not something that is on somebody else’s urgent list but not so important to you)? If so, take a couple of those and put them on your Daily To-Do List for tomorrow.


NOW WHAT?

Grab yourself a cuppa, a glass of wine, or take a break outside to get some time out. There’s nothing more to do today. Unless of course you want to…

 

OVERCOMING OVERWHELM

Read this if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed. It will guide you through how to overcome that and take back control.

And let me know if you’d like any more tips. Not because I’m naturally organised. Quite the opposite. I’m the queen of procrastination, a constant ideas generator who’s not very good at actually getting things done and I have a serious dose of Shiny Object Syndrome. So I needed to find ways to help me control my out-of-controlness to actually get things done. And I’ve checked out a lot of books, courses and methods on my quest so I’m happy to recommend what’s helped me.

Tomorrow…. How to Still Your Mind…

10 Days of Wellbeing: Day 1: A Wellbeing Boost

10 Days Of Wellbeing

10 Days Of Wellbeing

A WELLBEING BOOST

Is it just me or does anyone else find January a bit grim? 

Christmas is over. New Year is over. And even both of those were quite lonely times this year, with most of us separated from family and friends. The days are short and it’s dark and cold (at least up here in the winter of the Northern Hemisphere).

And in the run up to the New Year, everywhere we look we’ve been bombarded with messages to set resolutions, set goals, lose weight, be successful, earn more money, be a better person. 

New Year, New You… oh the pressure. When all I want to do is curl up in slouchy clothes/jammies with the heat blasting, candles lit and devour the remainder of the Christmas chocolate (okay, okay, chocolate that I keep buying throughout January!)

I started to do Dry January. But then I remembered that January is dry enough! So I did a drier January. A Dry-ish January if you will.

I still found that my mood dipped. I felt low at times and had moments/days of anxiety.

But some cold, wet days in isolation gave me even more time for reading, reflection and planning. 

 

FEBRUARY BOOST

So now that we’re into February, even though I know that there’s a whole lot of winter yet to come, I’m already starting to perk up and think ahead.

And I thought we could all do with a great big helping of Wellbeing goodness so I’m running a FREE Wellbeing Boost / Challenge / Commitment. Call it what you will, but I hope you choose to gift yourself 10 days of tips, advice, practice and exercises to boost your wellbeing.

I’ll share things that will help you focus on your mental and emotional health, physical health, mindset, decisions, productivity, confidence and mindfulness. A menu of options, a smorgasbord of Wellbeing options to put yourself at the heart of what you do for a few moments each day.

 

A WELLBEING COMMITMENT TO YOURSELF

All you’ll need is a journal, notebook or paper. I know we all have online and mobile notes these days but there is something personal, effective, releasing and powerful about taking the time to write these and then having your own handwritten notes to reflect on. 

 

JUST 15 MINUTES EACH DAY TO IMPROVE YOUR WELLBEING

I don’t know about you but when I sign up to some challenges and they have a 50 minute video each day which is then followed by exercises or homework, I quickly fall behind then can’t find the time to catch up. 

So if I do share a video it will be a few minutes to explain something, 5 minutes maximum. And when there is reading, it will be just what you need to know to complete the task.

The daily exercises or tasks won’t take long.  Most of the exercises will take 15 minutes. Some aren’t even exercises as such, just taking some time out entirely for yourself.

So let’s get started…


DAY ONE: REFLECTION & INTENTION

Grab yourself a cuppa, your journal and a quiet spot. Consider these few questions below and write the answers in your journal along with any other thoughts these might prompt.

How are you feeling right now?
You can use the Mind:Body:Life:Soul holistic framework to guide you through a deeper contemplation of this. Or just consider the areas that are important to you.
* How are your mood, your emotions, your energy?
* How are your relationships?
* How are you feeling in general about your life?

 

SET YOUR INTENTION 

If you’ve chosen to make this commitment to yourself to spend some time over the next few weeks on boosting your Wellbeing, you can set your intention now.

What would you like to focus on improving over the next 10 days?
* If you dedicate 15-20 minutes each day on yourself, what would you like to find, decide, discover or do?
* How would you like to feel at the end of this Wellbeing Boost?

That’s it for today. Well done on recognising that you deserve this and deciding to prioritise yourself. You deserve it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the next Wellbeing Boost

Make Working From Home Work For You

Make Working From Home Work For You

WORKING FROM HOME WELLBEING TIPS

It looks like working from home is likely to continue into the New Year for many of us.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, your company allows you to work remotely, or you’ve had no choice but to work from home during lockdown, more and more of us are working from home.


The GOOD

There are lots of positives. No stressful commutes, fewer interruptions, and often, more flexibility with less structured work hours.


The potential downsides

But if there is one potential pitfall of working from home, it is overworking and never truly switching off from thinking about work. There’s just not the same closure of walking out of the office every evening and segueing into your home life.

So how do you keep a balance between work and “you” time?


1. Work regular hours

Set a start time, a finish time and break times and try to stick to those.

  • Allow yourself a little flexibility, things can come up and let’s face it, this is one of the perks of home-working.


2. Schedule in breaks
too, and make sure you take them.


3. Establish a morning routine

This is probably one of the most important, for me anyway. If my morning routine slips, the whole day slips. I walk the dog, come back and shower, do some yoga, make a coffee, sit on the balcony and write my journal, then make another coffee and it’s time to sit down to work.


4. Get dressed for work

I’m not talking dresses, power suits and heels (unless you really want to) but get out of your PJs, get out of your slouchies and get into work appropriate gear. You’ll be glad of this when you get an unexpected Zoom call, you’ll always be camera ready.


5. Productivity – Work out when you’re most productive
so you know when you’ll get most done and plan your more difficult tasks for the time of day when you know you’re in the right headspace for them.


6. Set boundaries
or rules with other people in your home so that they respect your space and time during your working hours.


7. Remove distractions
and try to structure your day with blocks of time where you will be uninterrupted.


8. Write a realistic To-Do list and try to complete it every day.

Try to avoid procrastinating and don’t carry it forward to the next day as that just leads to a daunting start with even more to do.


9. Eat The Frog

If you haven’t heard of this Brian Tracy book, it’s simple yet genius. If you have a row of frogs that you have to eat, then you’re best just eating the biggest, ugliest one first. Then your day can only get better. So do what you’re dreading most. Then enjoy the rest of your day.


10. Pomodoro Technique

If you’re anything like me, sometimes it’s difficult to get in the flow or concentration and there are so many things at home you could be doing, should be doing. My house is never cleaner than when I’m procrastinating on work I don’t like doing. I use the
Pomodoro Technique to keep me focussed for short periods.

– Set a 25 minute timer.
– Work for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break away from your screen or work.
– Repeat this 4 times then take a longer break.


11. Have a dedicated work area

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a spare room we can use as an office. But work in a space that you can assign solely to work and walk away from at the end of the day. If you have to work at your kitchen table or dining table, then clear all the work away at the end of the day so that you’re not looking at it when you should be switching off. 


12. Choose music to match your task and your mood

No fighting over what music to listen to. You get to choose your own music. I enjoy slower vibes for writing, funkier vibes for inspiration and sometimes I really enjoy pure silence.


13. Get fresh air

Whether it’s a walk in the morning, a bit of exercise in your lunch break or a run when you finish for the day, try to get outside, get some natural light, fresh air and breathe.


14. Go work in a local coffee shop

Going somewhere else to work means you get exercise, air and a change of scenery. The background noise can simulate your normal work environment. It also removes the chance of you being distracted by any household chores. My apartment is never cleaner than when I’m procrastinating on a work task! Two hours in a coffee shop can really help get stuff done!


15. Get a proper chair

During lockdown, many people started working from home with little or no notice so didn’t have the chance to get the right furniture and equipment. You need a chair that provides lumbar support, preferably adjustable to fit it to support you. Many employers will provide these. And a proper monitor will save you back ache too so that you’re not crouching down over a little laptop screen.

16. Socialise (whatever way it’s possible)
You’re going to miss the social interaction from the workplace and it can feel isolated and lonely at times. You could use Zoom or Skype to stay connected for meetings. Working from a café occasionally can provide some human interaction, but maybe you could to arrange to meet friends more outside of work hours, exercise together or end your work day with a coffee and a chat. 

17. Find a way to end your day so that you can switch off from work mode to home mode. 

18. Plan your meals
I quite often find myself deciding to make a nice lunch then spend a lot of time prepping, cooking and cleaning up. Prepare your meals the night before, just like you would do if you were going to the office. 

19. Keep your weekends free
You need time off to recharge. You may need to work Saturdays and Sundays but try where possible to have 2 consecutive work free days to rest, reset and recharge.

 

Why Workplace Wellbeing Matters

Why Workplace Wellbeing Matters

Why is Workplace Wellbeing so important?

Well, firstly, because it’s the right thing to do. If you employee or manage people, why would you not want them to be healthy, happy, present, engaged, feeling valued, feeling proud to work for and represent your business and doing the best job they can?

But if you’ve found yourself in a position in your business where you are trying to convince other executives or leaders why they should invest time and/or budget in Workplace Wellbeing, then here are some other benefits that could help you convince them:

Reduced Turnover
People won’t want to leave their employment with you so you will have less turnover of good people. We all know the cost of turnover and it’s not just financial in terms of recruitment and onboarding. You’ll also lose knowledge every time someone leaves. Creating a Healthy Workplace and prioritising Workplace Wellbeing will mean increased retention.

Attraction
You’ll soon build a positive reputation as an employer who prioritise workplace wellbeing and become known as a company who invest in and support their people. And who wouldn’t want to work for a business like that? That will help you attract, recruit and retain excellent people to join your teams.

Better Employee Engagement
Not only do engaged employees create a working environment that’s better for everyone, but enhanced employee engagement has been proven to deliver better business performance as people are more motivated and committed to success.

Reduced Absence
Absence means lost working days and lower productivity. In turn these can result in other employees becoming unhappy as they have to pick up the slack for those absent, leading to the negative working relationships. A healthy workplace with a commitment to employee and workplace wellbeing will reduce absence and its repercussions.

Increased Productivity
Less absence and engaged employees motivated to deliver their best means your healthy workplace will show a boost in productivity.

Improved customer experience
Customers will be dealing with happy, engaged, motivated people. Workplace wellbeing means happy customers too.

Open culture with positive communication
A healthy workplace with an open culture, encouraging positive, open communication creates a better working environment for everyone.

Mental health and wellbeing
Open conversations around mental health will ensure your people feel understood and supported. This creates an inclusive, healthy workplace for them, particularly during times where they may struggle with their mental illness.

Less conflict at work
And if there’s less conflict, there’s much less time required to spend resolving issues. Freeing even more time to build a healthy workplace, focussed on wellbeing helping deliver all these benefits.

If you’d like any more information, please email me at jules@messymiddle.life

Or you can schedule a complimentary 30 minute discovery call: https://messymiddle.life/schedule/

Finding balance and renewal after burnout in midlife

Finding balance and renewal after burnout in midlife

When I first decided to face into my burnout, things got much worse before they got better.

It’s such a lonely and difficult time when you realise that you’re feeling stuck and that your life isn’t working for you anymore.

You’re still as busy as ever but somehow feeling like you’re busy on all the wrong things.

You’re also becoming more and more drained physically and emotionally. It can be hard to believe that you can find your way out when:

* You’re overwhelmed
* Burnt out
* Feeling like life is passing you by
* You want to change, but what and how?
* You don’t have time to stop and figure it out. You’ve things to do and bills to pay.
* You worked so hard to build your career. You can’t leave!
* Everyone else thinks you’re crazy. Your life looks so good from the outside.

THAT WAS ME JUST A FEW YEARS AGO.

My own journey of discovering a way to balance a career I love with a much healthier lifestyle took a LONG time.

I went on a mission to recover and become calmer, happier and healthier. I’ve spent quite a few hours in therapy, I’ve read hundreds of books, I’ve studied, trained and travelled. I’ve done my fair share of challenging and changing my old habits, beliefs and behaviours. I even got the help of some yogis and gurus in India along my way.

Way before I got to that point, my burn out became a breakdown. TWICE! But I found my way…and my WHY. So I KNOW you can do this, because I’ve been there too.

How did I manage to overcome burnout and and find peace, balance and much more happiness and pleasure in life?

1. IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS YOUR BIGGEST STRESSOR

I removed my biggest stressor. I left my job.

That’s when my breakdown happened. And unlike my idol Brené Brown, this wasn’t my Breakdown / Spiritual Awakening. It was a breakdown.

I’d been running on adrenaline for years. Once I dropped the frenetic pace of life I’d been racing through, the adrenaline switched off completely and I found myself in an exhausted, emotional mess. I felt like my world had imploded. I felt like my mind was imploding.

If you’re happy and inspired with your job, it may still be taking up too much of your time and energy. That leaves you with nothing else for life and for the people closest to you. In that case, you can take stock, have necessary conversations, establish boundaries and redress that balance.

The source of your burnout could be something completely different. You need to identify exactly what is causing the burnout in your life. Hone in on that to make the proper changes to remedy the exact source of the problem.

2. TAKE A STEP BACK

I took some time out.

Taking time off work isn’t a luxury that everyone can afford. In my case I sold my house, which gave me the financial freedom to take some time out. I knew I was giving up my financial security but I figured if I didn’t have my health, I didn’t have anything. I chose to prioritise that over money.

Take a step back and take time away from the source of burnout. It helps you clear your head, calm your emotions and be in a place where you can deal with burnout rationally.

3. SLOW DOWN

I slowed down. Properly. For the first time ever.

This is the hardest part for most people and it sounds so counter-intuitive. “How can I possibly slow down when I’m trying to balance all these things?!” But you need to, to declutter that crazy To-Do List in your mind and to start to put it into some sort of manageable order.

In my case, I took solo weekend breaks away in a friend’s caravan on a remote beach in Wales. I walked, wrote, read and rested. With nothing of interest to do or see, it forced me to sit still.

And leading nicely into the next point, I journaled. A lot.

4. Journal

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.

It’s why I’m still such an advocate for journaling. It clears your head. It helps you prioritise. And it helps you recognise repeating patterns of thought and behaviour.

5. Set boundaries

I learned to say no. I choose how I spend my time. I no longer do things I don’t want to do (where possible) or things that I know will affect my mental health.

When I waiver, I remember the huge changes I made to my life to protect my mental and physical health. It’s vital that I don’t take backward steps to where I was before. I have the difficult conversations. I explain to people how I’m feeling, why I make choices and they’ve all been supportive and accepting. Mostly.

6. Don’t isolate. But choose your people.

Isolation is a key symptom of burnout, so it’s important to be as social as possible. Just choose the right people.

I distanced myself from negative people.

Life is hard. That’s a given. But it’s how we deal with it that matters.

I try to deal with life with optimism and positivity. After I’ve allowed myself to deal with situations and process the emotions. I find negative, pessimistic, competitive and angry people draining. So once I realise that someone has that impact on me, I try to limit my time with them, to protect my own energy.

7. Change your environment.

I spent time in nature.

I walked along a local river, drove to the mountains, stayed by the sea. Nature is grounding and I found stillness and balance when I inhaled fresh air.

8. Don’t self-medicate.

It’s tempting to use legal (or illegal) substances to mask the feeling of overwhelm.

I had to deal with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Even my counsellor commented that I didn’t drink very much. But it wasn’t the amount that I was drinking, I recognised that it was the ‘why’ I drank that was the problem.

I was trying to numb things or take the edge off, escape from life or sometimes escape from me.

I’m an emotional eater too. Recognising when I was doing that helped me quickly spot when something triggered me.

9. Find your Passion

For me, that’s personal growth. I read and read and read and read and read.

Spirituality. Personal growth. The law of attraction. Psychology. Neuroscience. Other people’s journeys of healing.

I also studied. Nutrition. Mindfulness. Yoga. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. NLP. Life Purpose. Reiki.

I can’t consume enough information. I’m still learning…and growing.

10. Exercise

Exercise might seem like a weird suggestion as it takes up some of that precious energy you need to manage. Exercise is super effective in helping you blow off some steam and act as a mental release valve.

I found yoga.

Initially I even raced my way through yoga practices. I did high intensity yoga shred workouts. It wasn’t until I almost broke my toe doing burpees — yeah, don’t worry, I get it. Burpees in yoga! — that I realised that what I needed to do was slow the feck down. In all areas of life. Epiphany.

11. Find your Community

I discovered Spirituality. Or rather, I finally opened up to spirituality. I’ve always been spiritually curious, searching for something I could grasp onto. But nothing connected. Maybe I just wasn’t ready.

An Ayurvedic consultation led me to start a daily practice of spiritual reading, yoga, pranayama and journaling. I went to India for yoga teacher training and spent a month in Rishikesh, the spiritual home of yoga. Later, I spent another month in Goa and Karnataka, immersing myself in yoga and spirituality.

Yoga for me is a way of life. And in that, I found my community, my tribe.

12. Ask for help

Asking for help might mean reaching out to a trained professional who can offer you solutions, treatments, support and coping tactics. There is nothing more powerful than owning the fact you are overwhelmed.

I found myself stuck in the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’. A dark, empty period of personal growth and transition that made me want to turn the clocks back and make it all stop!

That led to breakdown number two. This one really was more of a Breakdown / Spiritual Awakening but I didn’t know that at the time.

I had five months where I experienced suicidal thoughts. Underlying it all, I knew I wasn’t depressed or suffering from anxiety. But after a few weeks of low mood, I was concerned that I couldn’t continue to fend away those thoughts while feeling low. I faced into it and I reached out for medical support and counselling to try to finally uncover my thoughts, habits, behaviours, addictive personality and any other demons that were lurking. Medical support was poor but the counselling was transformative.

13. Acknowledge your role

Burnout doesn’t just happen to us. There are things we do and choices we make that contribute to it. Please don’t beat yourself up about them. Acknowledge any potential unhealthy habits that could have led to your burnout out, so you can work on those while you recover.

I let go of my perfectionism. Okay, I’m still trying to let go of perfectionism.

I put enormous pressure on myself for things to be ‘just so’ or how I think other people expect them. I’m trying to recognise when the perfectionist takes over and let her go pronto. It’s a work in progress.

14. Are you ready to move on?

I relocated to a Mediterranean island. Alone.

I’ve always had a very clear vision of how my life would be someday. Living by the sea, living simply, buying fresh food from the local market and spending lots of time outdoors.

I always imagined I’d live that vision when I reached retirement. But suddenly I realised, why wait until retirement? Why not live that vision now when I’m young enough(ish), fit enough(ish) and strong enough to deal with such a major move?

So in February 2020 I did just that. I moved to Mallorca, to a gorgeous, light, bright, airy, top floor apartment in Palma. I walk to the sea in 15 minutes. I shop at the local markets. I regularly get out into the mountains, countryside and beaches. I work from home and I work from co-working spaces or cafes when I know I need company. I’ve adopted a little dog so we walk to the sea every morning.

Setting up in a new country hasn’t always been easy, but it was the right lifestyle choice for me.

15. Don’t complicate things.

I live more simply.

I don’t have a car. I don’t buy much stuff (I already have too much stuff and I don’t want to clutter my lovely space). My favourite social events are coffees and brunches. Okay, okay, I also love a glass of Verdejo in the sunshine but I’ve no interest in nights out, or even fancy dinners.

I became vegetarian during my time in India so even my food choices are more simple now.

Every morning I enjoy coffee, writing, reading on the balcony and pottering about with a few plants.

What would I do differently?

Everything has worked out great for me but I had a lot of ‘detours’ and it took a long time for everything to eventually fall into place.

If I had to do it all again:

I would get more help. I would seek out that support much earlier.

More importantly, I would have taken time to fully consider my options and plan my exit strategy before I left my job. Then I would have a lot more of the pieces in place before taking that leap.

I’m determined that no-one needs to go through those toughest of times alone. All my twists and turns helped me find a process that works, that I now share with my coaching clients.

Now I get to help others to recover from burnout, restore their health and live calm, happy, balanced lives. And you can too!

That’s why I guide people just like me and you through the process in my Burnout To Balance Coaching programme. Find out more here….

 

The books that got me through this difficult time

*This section contains affiliate links which could earn me a small commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I have used and trust. All opinions are my own. For more details see my disclosure policy and privacy policy.

 

I read so much that there’s far too much to be able to recommend everything right here. Here’s a link to my reading list.

But if I had to select just a few, the books that had the most profound impact on me were:

The Secret, Rhonda Byrne

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

Lifeshocks: and how to love them, Sophie Sabbage

Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, Gabor Maté

The Power Of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle

Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, Joe Dispenza, D.C.

Tuesdays With Morrie: An old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson, Mitch Albom

The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown

 

MY WHY: Why I Do What I Do

MY WHY: Why I Do What I Do

From the heart today: WHY I DO WHAT I DO
 

I’ve been through my own tough times personally, while battling with my mental health.

 

❤️ I do what I do so that someone else doesn’t have to go through that alone ❤️

If I can help one person overcome their personal struggles then this is all worth it.

3:43 Videobomb by a little white dog jumping out the window to join the ‘show’!
🐶
😄

The books I mentioned:

* Please note: these are affiliate links which could earn me a small commission if you buy, but they won’t cost you any extra. And of course, I will never recommend anything to you that I haven’t tried and liked. Promise.

Symptoms of Burnout

Symptoms of Burnout

Burnout is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It’s not always easy to spot. Symptoms tend to build up over a period of time after you’ve had ongoing exposure to stressful situations.  

Burnout can have mental, emotional and physical symptoms. If you think you may be suffering from or on the edge of burnout, here are a list of some symptoms you might be experiencing.

Symptoms of Burnout

• Feeling tired and drained most of the time
• Lowered immunity, frequent illnesses
• Frequent headaches or muscle pain
• Change in appetite or sleep habits
• Sense of failure and self-doubt
• Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
• Detachment, feeling alone in the world
• Loss of motivation
• Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
• Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment
• Withdrawing from responsibilities
• Isolating yourself from others
• Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
• Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
• Taking out your frustrations on others
• Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early
* from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm

Please make sure that you get the right support for you if you’re struggling.

 

My Burnout Symptoms

In my case my GP told me that I had severe physical symptoms of anxiety.

I experienced:
• Tightness in chest
• A persistent tingling feeling in my right arm. This one really concerned me. I’m not one to worry excessively normally but I knew that with my stress levels, lack of sleep and pace of life, I was a prime example of someone at risk of a stroke. This is what made me seek medical advice and check-ups.
• Mood swinging between periods of low mood and periods of anxiety
• Panic attacks
• No sleeping. I wasn’t overly worried about that as I hadn’t slept properly in years but I knew lack of sleep was exacerbating other symptoms.
• Mouth ulcers. All the time.
• Sense of failure and I just couldn’t see a way out
• Tension headaches
• Detachment. I felt very alone.
• No enjoyment in anything
• Isolating myself
• Procrastinating. I’m the queen of procrastination anyway but I can see now that during this time I procrastinated on taking action that could have helped me sooner
• Using food and alcohol to cope

From Breakdown to Breakthrough tells of the moment when I realised I was completely BURNT OUT and realised that I needed to make serious changes. I share my experiences of overcoming Burnout and finding peace, balance and a lifestyle that brings me health and happiness. 

Burnout to Breakdown to Breakthrough…

Burnout to Breakdown to Breakthrough…

I remember the moment when I realised that I was really stuck and living a life that just wasn’t working for me anymore.

I was crazy busy on all the wrong things and it was draining me physically and emotionally.

I was 45 at the time and figured I was already at least halfway through my life. I couldn’t let the other half be the same.

It can be hard to see that there really is a way to find your way out when:

* You’re overwhelmed
* Burnt out
* Feeling like life is passing you by
* You want to change, but what and how? 
* You don’t have time to stop and figure it out. You’ve things to do and bills to pay. 
* You’re bursting with ideas for changing career or setting up your own business but that means leaving the career you worked so hard to build.
* Everyone else thinks you’re crazy. Your life looks so good from the outside. 

I eventually found my way…and my WHY. So I KNOW you can do this, because I’ve been there too.

My own journey of discovering a way to balance a career I love with a much healthier lifestyle helped me discover a formula that really works.

That’s when I knew. I have to share this!

That’s what inspired me to leave my career in HR to start coaching women who also feel they’re stuck. 

But way before I got to that point, my burn out became a breakdown. TWICE! But I overcame that and you can too.

Once I realised my life wasn’t working for me, I started to make changes, Even though these changes were positive, my burnout became a full-blown breakdown.
 

How did I recover?

 

1. I got off the hamster wheel. I LEFT MY JOB.
That’s when the breakdown happened. And unlike my idol Brené Brown, this wasn’t a Breakdown / Spiritual Awakening, it was a breakdown. I’d been running on adrenaline for years and once that wasn’t needed to maintain the pace of life I’d been hammering through, it switched off completely and I was left in an exhausted, emotional mess. I felt like my world had imploded. I felt like my mind was imploding.

2. I decided to take some TIME OUT to get a proper break.
I know taking time out of work isn’t a luxury that everyone can afford but in my case I sold my house, which gave me the financial freedom to take some time out. I knew I was giving up my financial security/pension but I figured if I didn’t have my health, I didn’t have anything and I chose to prioritise that over money.

3. I found YOGA
Eventually. Initially I raced my way even through that, doing high intensity yoga shred workouts. It wasn’t until I almost broke my toe doing burpees – yeah, don’t worry, I get it. Burpees in yoga! – that I realised that what I needed to do was slow the feck down. Epiphany.

4. I SLOWED DOWN.
Properly. For first time ever.
I took breaks away on my own in a friend’s caravan on a remote beach in Wales where I walked, wrote, read and rested. I booked a week away to Turkey in a location where there was absolutely nothing of interest to do or see so that it would force me to sit and lie still.

5. I set BOUNDARIES
I learned to say no. I choose how I spend my time. I don’t do things I don’t want to (where possible). And when I waiver, I remember that I made huge changes to my life to protect my mental and physical health and it’s vital that I don’t take backward steps to where I was before. I have difficult conversations. I explain to people how I feel, why I make choices and they’ve all been supportive and accepting. Mostly.

6. I discovered SPIRITUALITY
Or I finally opened up to spirituality. I’ve always been spiritually curious, possibly trying to find something I could grasp onto. But nothing connected. Maybe I just wasn’t ready. But an Ayurvedic consultation led me to a daily practice of spiritual reading, yoga, pranayama and journaling. I decided to go to India for yoga teacher training and spent a month in Rishikesh, the spiritual home of yoga. I spent another month in Goa and Karnataka and immersed myself in yoga and spirituality. Those of you who have been through a Spiritual Awakening will understand how I found myself stuck in the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’, a dark, empty period of personal growth and transition that made me want to turn the clocks back and make it all stop! That led to breakdown number two. This one really was more of a Breakdown Spiritual Awakening but I didn’t know that at the time. I had five months where I experienced suicidal thoughts. But underlying it all, I knew I wasn’t depressed or suffering from anxiety. But when I had a few weeks of low mood, I was concerned that I couldn’t continue to fend away those thoughts and so I faced right into it and I reached out for medical support and counselling to try to finally uncover my thoughts, habits, behaviours, addictive personality and any other demons that were lurking. Medical support was poor but the counselling was transformative.

7. READING
I read and read and read and read and read. I read about spirituality, personal growth, the law of attraction, psychology, how the brain works. I also studied – Nutrition, Mindfulness, Yoga, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Life Purpose – I just couldn’t get enough information.

8. JOURNALLING
I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.
It’s why I’m still such an advocate for journaling. It clears your head, helps prioritise, helps recognise patterns of thought and behaviour. 

9. I let go of my PERFECTIONISM
I tried, okay I’m still trying, to let go of perfectionism. I put enormous pressure on myself for things to be ‘just so’ or how I think other people expect them. I’m trying to recognise when the perfectionist takes over and let her go pronto. It’s a work in progress.

10. I distanced myself from NEGATIVE PEOPLE
Life is hard. That’s a given. But it’s how we deal with it that matters.
My way is with optimism and positivity, once I’ve allowed myself to deal with and process the emotions. Personally, I find negative, pessimistic, competitive and angry people exceptionally draining. So once I realise that someone has that impact on me, I limit my time with them, to protect my own energy.

11. I spent time in NATURE
I spent a lot of time in nature. I walked along a local river, drove to the mountains, stayed by the sea. Nature is grounding and I found stillness and balance when I inhaled fresh air.

12. I dealt with an unhealthy relationship with ALCOHOL
Even my counsellor commented that I didn’t drink that much. But it wasn’t the amount that I was drinking, I recognised that it was the ‘why’ I drank that was the problem. I was trying to numb things or take the edge off, escape from life or sometimes escape from me.

13. I RELOCATED to a Mediterranean island
I’ve always had a very clear vision of how I imagined my life someday. I imagined living by the sea, living simply, buying fresh food from the local market and spending lots of time outdoors. I always believed that vision would be achieved when I reached retirement, but suddenly I realised, why wait until retirement? Why not live that vision now when I’m young enough (ish), fit enough (ish) and strong enough to deal with a big move?

So this February I did just that. I moved to Mallorca, to a gorgeous, light, bright, airy, spacious top floor apartment in Palma.

It’s too big for me but I wanted space for friends and family to visit, to feel like they have a home here.

I can walk to the sea in 15 minutes, I shop at the local market, I get out into the mountains, countryside and beaches regularly. I don’t have a car. I don’t buy much stuff (I already have too much stuff and I don’t want to clutter my lovely space) and I’ve adopted a little dog. I work from home and I get out into co-working spaces or cafes when I know I need company.

My favourite social events are coffees and brunches. Okay, okay, I also love a glass of Verdejo in the sunshine but I’ve no interest in nights out, or even fancy dinners. I became vegetarian during my time in India so even my food choices are more simple now. Every morning I enjoy coffee, writing and reading on the balcony and pottering about with a few plants.

I’m living the lifestyle I dreamed of. And I get to help other people find the lifestyle they dream of too. So really I guess I’m a lifestyle coach. Because I believe in a holistic approach to Mind, Body, Life and Soul. If anything is out of balance, everything is out of balance. 

How long did it take? 

At the risk of sounding like an absolute cop out I really don’t know.

The perimenopause hit me at the same time as the burnout. And perimenopause is the gift that just keeps on giving. It can last for up to 10 years, symptoms fluctuate and come and go and I still have days where I feel low or anxious.

The major difference is that any changes in mood now usually last only a day or two. And surely that’s to be expected in life?

The books that got me through this difficult time

*This page contains affiliate links which could earn me a small commission if you visit a link and buy something on my recommendation. Purchasing via an affiliate link doesn’t cost you any extra, and I only recommend products and services I have used and trust. All opinions are my own. For more details see my disclosure policy and privacy policy.

I know I said I read a lot but I read far too much to be able to recommend everything here so here’s a link to my reading list.

But if I had to select just a few, these are the books that had the most profound impact on me were:

The Secret, Rhonda Byrne

Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Gerald G. Jampolsky

Lifeshocks: and how to love them, Sophie Sabbage

Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, Gabor Maté

The Power Of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle

Your True Home, Thich Nhat Hanh

Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, Joe Dispenza, D.C.

Tuesdays With Morrie: An old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson, Mitch Albom

How to lose weight & keep it off

How to lose weight & keep it off

Hands up who’s put on weight during the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home? 👋🏼

Some people lose their appetite through stressful times. Not me. My daily exercise was regular trips to the fridge!

I often found myself standing at the fridge door, looking around blankly, waiting for inspiration and usually settling for more chocolate. Or cheese. Or leftovers. Or whatever was closest to me. I inhaled everything I ate then found myself back at the fridge door just minutes later.

 

So firstly, if you’ve been beating yourself up about the weight. Give yourself a break. There was a global crisis, our routines were upended, our lives full of fear and uncertainty and food was a brief, welcome, comforting respite.

But enough is enough! Let’s get these stubborn pounds shifted…

I lost over 40lbs around 15 years ago. And I’ve managed to keep it off, with a few little fluctuations here and there.

Naturally slim until my 20s, my weight had been creeping up gradually since my student days. Most people have a preference for sweet or savoury. I like both. In quick rotation. In big quantities.

I tried lots of diets. Slimming World, Atkins, calorie counting, bikini body plans, Blood Type diet, 5:2, 500 calorie days, Low GI, intermittent fasting… You name it, I’ve probably tried it.

And then finally something clicked. Or rather, quite a few things clicked. And here they are. The food lessons I’ve learned and lived by for almost 15 years.

1. FIND YOUR WHY

First, and most importantly, you have to actually want to lose the weight.

So do you really want to lose weight?

Yes? Then find your WHY. Why do YOU want to lose weight? Got it?

Okay. Any time you’re struggling, remind yourself of WHY you want to lose weight.

It will help you keep focus and motivation.

2. GET ORGANISED

Sorry to be the bearer of bad, boring news but there are no short cuts to losing weight.

Get organised. Plan your meals, buy healthy and prep plenty.

3. LEARN HOW TO EAT

Fad or lose weight quick diets might help you kick-start the weight loss, but they’re not sustainable, often not healthy and you don’t break your old habits.

To maintain your weight long term, you need to learn how to eat.

Find a way of eating that suits your lifestyle.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

4. MOVE IT

Find an exercise you enjoy and get moving. It’s great for endorphins too which will help you feel so much better. But bear in mind, you can’t exercise away a bad diet.

5. DRINK LOTS OF WATER

Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. And it’s important to stay hydrated, helps with digestion too. But stick mainly to water, even fruit juices can be packed with sugar.

6. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU EAT

It’s sometimes surprising how you’ve eaten so much more than you thought.

Writing it down helps you keep track. You might also spot patterns of when and what you eat.

I’m a grazer and snack constantly and eat throughout the day. That all soon adds up.

7. FOOD IS FUEL

This one was my lightbulb moment when it came to weight loss. Think of food as fuel for your body.

Would you put cheap, nasty fuel in your car? Nope.

Let’s treat ourselves carefully by trying to eat more fresh, nutritious, unprocessed ‘fuel’.

Read the labels, avoid high saturated fats, hidden sugars, high salts, E numbers and names of ingredients you can’t even pronounce.

8. DON’T CALL IT A DIET

It’s a way of eating that will enable you to lose weight and a new way of eating that will make sure you stay at a healthy weight you’re happy with.

My diet is how I eat, I’m not on a diet.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

9. LEARN TO LOVE (AND TRUST) FOOD

Your body needs carbs, your body needs fats. No food is bad, in small amounts (unless it aggravates a medical condition).

Chocolate is good for the soul. Just not in the vast quantities that saw me through lockdown!

10. TRY SMALLER PLATES & PORTIONS

I don’t know about you but I was brought up to clear my plate. Whatever the size!

So maybe fill a smaller plate at first. Eat slowly, eat mindfully and stop when you’re full.

11. NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS SKINNY FEELS

That’s bulls*t. And whoever said that had clearly never tasted Lindt dark chocolate with sea-salt, or meringue with fresh cream, or cheesecake, or freshly baked bread with butter, or cheese, or… you get my drift.

HOWEVER, when tempted by your own tasty pleasure, just take a moment to reflect on your WHY.

Do you want that chunk of cake more than you want to lose weight?

The answer might be yes. In which case have a little.

Or CHOOSE to have it, and eat it with unbridled pleasure and savour each mouthful.

You’ve made a choice. Own it and enjoy it.

12. ENJOY IT

When you eat, ENJOY it!

Stop whatever else you’re doing, sit still and enjoy every last morsel.

Don’t ruin it by eating it with a huge side-serving of guilt.

Savour it with intention and satisfaction. Otherwise it wasn’t worth it.

So if you can’t resist the dessert menu, just have the cake / cheesecake / tart / cream filled pastry and enjoy it. Maybe you’ll share it with someone, maybe you’ll eat the lot.

But you’ve made a choice to have it, so give yourself permission to accept that decision, lean into that and enjoy it!

13. DON’T START AGAIN NEXT WEEK

If you eat the cake, don’t let that de-rail you. Don’t decide you’ll start your ‘diet’ again tomorrow, or the next day or after the weekend or whenever…

Eat the next meal as you had planned and prepped.

You’re making mostly ‘healthy’ food choices and sometimes you have treats.

That’s life.

 

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