Burnout - the product of mental, emotional and often physical exhaustion that comes from experiencing high levels of stress for prolonged periods. Stress in itself is not inherently a harmful thing in a short term sense, and is even an inevitable element of our work and personal lives. It is a vital warning system from the body that alerts you when the brain perceives a potential threat. Healthy levels of stress assist you in accomplishing tasks and even boost memory. But there can come a time when stress becomes problematic and you have exhausted your ability to cope. When the brain becomes flooded with stress and anxiety for too long, burnout occurs. While burnout can take many forms, it indicates one thing - your lifestyle is unsustainable. So what can we do to prevent it?
It is an undeniable symptom of the human condition that we search for meaning and purpose in our lives. We share the obvious tasks of survival, knowing that we require food, water and shelter. But at some base level we cannot deny that there is a difference between surviving and living. A person’s health and wellbeing is more than just ‘lacking illness’, or coping with their environment. Our health should be viewed as a tool for living a meaningful life, rather than the objective of life itself.
Finding the motivation to go to the gym, or go running or cycling or whatever type of exercise you’re in to, can be difficult sometimes, we all know that. We’ve also all see the quotes that the fitness influencers throw at us like; “when you need motivation, remember why you started” and such. But, why do we place so much emphasis on the starting reason being looks? Why is it so often about “improving the way our bodies look?”
When it comes to a self-care checklist, it’s great to look at one which meets our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual needs. At a time when mental health issues are on the rise it’s important that we start to incorporate our own self-care into our everyday routines. When building your own self-care checklist, the following ways will help in getting you started.
A bit like coffee shops and hair salons, yoga seems to be everywhere. Do you feel that too? But the great thing about this practice is that no class is really ever the same.
If you’ve not practised yoga before or if you perhaps feel as though it might not be for you, then my advice to you is to persevere and keep experiencing and experimenting with different classes - there will absolutely be one just for you.
When I first wrote that title I added: “aside from the obvious”. But then I realised, just because some things are obvious to me doesn’t mean they are obvious to everyone. And that’s the point isn’t it, on each of our wellness journeys some things that are considered so “obvious” that we forget to learn them, to explore them, or to make any real-time for them. So, here we go, 5 things you should be doing every day.
Written as I sit with a glass of wine in one hand, a packet of chocolate within arms reach and the same happy, healthy feeling that I have when I swap that for water and a sweat towel. How? Because I’ve learnt (unfortunately through many a breakdown, relapse and guilt ridden outburst) that true wellness lies in more than just food restriction and smashing out high intensity workouts.
Burpees and diet plans can play a huge role in your fitness and health goals and I love a good high intensity interval session as much as the next person. But, it really only takes one (maybe ten or eleven) injuries/burnouts to know that there has to be more. So, this is me giving you an early heads up that I didn’t get or possibly just didn’t listen to.
We ‘plug in’ to recharge ourselves in numerous ways. We eat food to give our bodies nutrients to serve a variety of critical functions and give us energy to operate as optimally as possible. We sleep at night to release hormones in the body that repair cells, which in turn restores intellectual and physical function. We plug our phones into their chargers to restore power. But what do we do for our social selves to recharge?
Sometimes, despite the best of our efforts, life can leave us feeling overwhelmed, out of centre or just off balance, and when that happens we often hear the word detox being thrown around. We’re not just talking about a detox in relation to nourishment, whilst of course, that can be part of it. But what about all the other factors in your life that make up you?
Before we dive into the specifics, what does the word detox mean to you? By definition to detox is to rid ourselves of unspecified toxins or substances which have accumulated in the body which may have both short and long term consequences on our health and wellbeing.
Art and science approach and explain emotions differently. Scientists don’t ask the ‘why’ we feel the way that we do, but rather focus on ‘what’ or ‘how’, proceeding with scientific method. When it comes to emotions, a scientist will look at what is going on in the brain, valuing measurable and logical patterns within the brain and behaviour. Artists are more interested in emotional expression, more willing to trust personal experience. Considering this, some may be led to think that emotions have no place in the realm of science. However, I have a difficult time accepting that emotions can ever responsibly be discussed while neglecting some scientific analysis.
I was recently asking during a podcast interview with Travis Barton what was in my wellbeing toolkit so it got me thinking. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years immersed (read completely down the rabbit hole and not coming out anytime soon) in learning about different wellbeing practices, techniques and working with a wide spectrum of practitioners. And much like anything, there’s been a huge amount of trial and error within that exploration. Some experiences have been wonderful, even life changing, and others, what have felt like a total waste of time and money. Whilst in reality, there’s no such thing, simply lessons learnt and experiences had, which had not met my own personal expectations of what that wellness modality or practitioner could or should have offered me. What is should anyway? A conversation for another time perhaps. Back to our wellbeing toolkits…
We live in a time where society in many ways, has lost its own alignment to the natural rhythms of life. We defy nature on a daily basis, no longer honouring the natural ebb and flow of each day, sunrise and sunset are swapped for long working hours, and commutes. Seasons are something we can skip altogether with the click of a button and an airfare ticket in hand. We’re contactable and ‘on’ around the clock, never really sure if we’re switched off, relaxing or exhibiting some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon vibes. Our consumerist culture continually reinforces the narrative to look outside of ourselves for answers and happiness.
Aside from our collective fragmentation to the natural rhythms of life, how can we tell if on an individual level we’re out of alignment?