Tag Archives: burnout

Self Care In A Pandemic (24): Give Yourself A Break…

There will be days in this pandemic, and generally in life, where things just aren’t going right. Maybe things are actually going wrong, with a variety of external challenges, or maybe your circumstances are just fine, but you are not.

I had one of those days yesterday. Circumstances fine, but me not. Some of my long standing health issues were getting the better of me and I ended up sleeping for most of the day. I haven’t done that all year so it was unusual for me. I’ve managed to keep myself going, being relatively productive, and manage some kind of routine despite the ups and downs, but yesterday it just wasn’t happening. It was one of those days when psychological distress, depression, anxiety and all the rest came upon me afresh. In recovery from anything, we know that there are ups and downs. My lovely mum reminds me that this will pass, it won’t last forever.

And so today is a new day, and there are still things within me and in the world that could cause me distress and anxiety. I started the day early because I slept so much yesterday. I started the day with prayer and Scripture, and here I am at 11.20am writing my blog post.

The thing is though, we all have those ‘off days’ and we need to try to keep in fine balance a healthy means of giving ourselves a break and moving forwards so that we don’t get stuck.

Sometimes though, and I know from experience, we either don’t give ourselves the chance, or circumstances don’t give us the time or space to take a break and the result is emotional and psychological burnout and sometimes physical ailments that are an expression of our bodies inability to cope with the unceasing stress.

Thankfully, this year, I don’t have the burden of a daily commute, or of my sensitive brain having to deal with an avalanche of day to day stimulus by way of sounds, conversations, sights and so on – it can really take a big toll on me day to day, so that’s a massive blessing and relief.

Where am I going with this, for you? Yeah, take a break, my friends. Give yourself a break mentally. We are going to have ‘off days’ in life, and we will get back up from them again, but it’s ok to listen to your body and your mind if it’s just too much sometimes. Hold this in balance with a forward motion in life so that you don’t get ‘stuck’ though.

Where are you today? What’s going on with you? What do you need to take a step back from, and what do you need to embrace?

Take a break and take time out to rest. Your mind needs it, and hopefully you will feel that good bit better for it. Also give yourself a break mentally and emotionally. You and I were never meant to bear the burdens of the world but sometimes we feel the weight of them, so we need to learn to let go and focus on what is ours to tend to, and not that which is not.

Take a break today friends, and give yourself a break too.

Peace. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (21): Time To Think…

While we are all approaching the year’s end, no doubt this year we’ve had a lot of new thoughts going through our minds. Things that we never would have thought about in 2019, when the idea of a pandemic, for most of us at least, just wasn’t on our radar….at all.

This year may have given us all new and challenging things to think about as we’ve been living through and processing new experiences of the world, yet, perhaps in these challenges we can find space for an opportunity.

Here in Scotland, where I am living for the winter season, the first frost has arrived and the once green grass is speckled with white. The cloud laced skies are actually a bright blue which is beautiful for this time of year, and the vibrancy of autumn / fall has well passed and the branches and twigs of the trees have been stripped bare of life and of colour. We are approaching winter with a beauty of its own. Elsewhere, friends have told me, it has been snowing.

As the seasons change, we are presented with the opportunity to slow down. I give my gratitude to all of you who are front line workers and who will be working hard and steadfastly through the winter with little chance to pause, but for most of us, we will hopefully be safe and sheltered indoors.

With the slowing of the seasons, comes the opportunity to slow our minds and to think. I don’t know about you, but some of my thoughts this year haven’t been so much related to the pandemic as they have been to discovering more about myself and my friendships and connections with people through this experience.

For example, things that had been feeling ‘not quite right’ with certain friendships before the pandemic seem to have come more to the fore this year, especially as I spent four months living completely alone. I came to a deeper realisation that certain friends who have spouses and children and families of their own were oblivious to some of the fundamental lived realities of what it is to be me. Friends who shared that they were happy and doing well and who I tried to connect with but just didn’t have the need and didn’t contact me until after I had been locked down alone, only perhaps when they needed some diversion after Lockdown 1.0. Friendships are deep and complex things, but as an empath I sometimes suffer from how much I give to others, and I do acknowledge that friends are also there for me or have been, but I’ve had more time to think and to realise what I am or am not comfortable with this year, and being alone in lockdown for four months helped me to see who the people were that I could actually mutually connect with and the others who didn’t have the need for a single friend and only got in touch when it suited them. Beautiful, kind hearted people. But people with their own priorities, their own selfishness (and no doubt I will have my own that I’m unaware of even though I try to be a good friend) and their own blind spots and inability to think or relate to how a person completely isolated might have felt. Lifelong friends, but friends with whom I need to move on from the dynamic that was there before, and to consider my own wellbeing and sense of selfhood and I’m discovering this as I move forwards and as we all approach 2021. And I need to use this time to think things through.

Perhaps certain things in your life have been simmering in your mind against the backdrop of a pandemic year. Maybe the ‘other’ things you have had more time to think about or have needed to spend more time processing are completely different to mine. I am intrigued to know what these things might be, or if any of you can relate to what I have shared.

Perhaps an opportunity in the midst of the difficulties of 2020 that we have been presented with is the chance to do things differently, to not just continue with the way things have always been, or the way things have been for us for too long. Perhaps something within you has been stirred to make a change. Perhaps you are awakening to a realisation that you have been caring for the needs of others, which is a beautiful thing, but at the same time have been neglecting your own needs and suffering for it, which is something I can relate to.

Can we give ourselves that bit of self care in this pandemic by taking time to think things through, to pray things through, to seek wisdom and insight as to whether the way things have been aren’t right for us as we embark upon a new season, and consider that the way things are can be changed?

What have you been thinking about, or what do you need to make time for yourself to think through in this season? Are there any deep changes you need to make in your life as you move forwards, or are there any small day to day shifts that you feel are equally important for you to make?

I hope you are able to find new answers and fresh hope as you move forwards, as we all move forwards through the Light of Advent season, into the Hope of Christmas, and the potential of a New Year where we can face the future with greater resilience, courage, faith and determination, and a desire to lift each other up, but not to allow ourselves to be burnt out in the process.

Peace and Love. x

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Finding balance

woman walking on fence
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woman in black dress holding balance scale
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What does ‘balance’ mean to you?

What does finding balance in life mean to you? And what imagery comes to mind? Do you picture a gymnast on a balance beam, scales of justice, or perhaps a busy working mum ‘juggling’ an armful of responsibilities? Do you imagine a calm, serene and peaceful individual with a balanced life? Do you think of pH levels, of acid and alkaline levels? Do you picture the natural physical balance often found in the animal kingdom, such as a flamingo standing on one leg? 🙂

What does finding balance mean to you?

A sliding scale.

Balance in life, if you’ll pardon the pun, might be seen as a sliding scale. Our ideas about living a balanced life can vary over time, they can fluctuate and move from one thing to the next and then back again. They can vary according to circumstances, insight from the people we meet, and from life experiences, for example.

Pleasing everyone or staying sane?

From observation, of myself and of others, I find that as social beings (and that applies to all of us as human beings, no matter how introverted, isolated or reclusive we think we are), balance in life is often a dance between managing the needs and expectations of others and our own.

We need to maintain our own inner equilibrium if we are to live life well and be the best we can in our relationships and in managing our commitments. And we need to be involved in a world full of connections and communication with other people for our own wellbeing, growth and happiness.

We all have a variety of mutual needs – for community, communication and contact that co-exist with more seemingly ‘individual’ needs of solitude, quiet, rest, repose, refreshment, healing and maintaining our own commitments and responsibilities.

Maintaining balance. 

An important part of maintaining a balanced, healthy and productive life involves growing in insight of what our needs are and how they interplay with the needs of others, especially those most close to us in our lives.

We need to also understand that maintaining this fine equilibrium may also sometimes mean saying ‘no’, taking a step back, and refocusing our time, energy and efforts, so that we can be replenished, we can keep up with our responsibilities and be our best selves for the people we love as well. If we aren’t sometimes ‘brave’ enough to say no from time to time then we may end up feeling stressed, becoming ‘frazzled’, burn out, and withdrawing from the people who mean so much to us because we just can’t cope.

We all need balance, and we all need to help each other find it, as well as to grow in understanding of ourselves and each other in our varied and unique ways of finding and maintaining such balance.

A fine art. 

Perhaps the art of living a balanced life is comparable to learning to ride a bicycle, learning to dance, to walk a tight rope or on a balance beam, or to becoming a person who is wise and discerning and capable of making just and noble decisions.

The common thread among these is that balance may be in a sense intuitive, but it is not complete at the outset – it takes time, practice, effort, perseverance, diligence, insight, and often help from other people.

So if you are feeling a bit ‘frazzled’ in life, maybe you feel run down, burnt out, over committed, with too much to do and too many people to please, not enough time, energy, ‘sanity’, or peace of mind, then perhaps it is time to take a step back, time to breathe, to think and figure out a healthier way forwards.

It is worth recognising that finding balance is a part of life, and it can be difficult and we may fall down a few too many times. We may feel like a toddler who is learning to walk, with legs like jelly, unstable in our ways. Yet, with practice, we will get stronger, more adept and before long we will be off and on our way, and able to walk, run and play, including with other people. We might be scarred from too many falls off our metaphorical bikes but we don’t allow those things to keep us from getting back up again, watching and learning from others, until it becomes ‘second nature’ to us and we look for new challenges and learning opportunities.

I do think finding balance is a fine art. One which isn’t always easy to communicate. But just as we can learn to dance, to ride a bike, to grow in wisdom, to walk a tightrope, to reach out to someone else as we are doing so, so too can we learn to hone our skills at finding balance in life.

It’s important to grow in being able to communicate this with others, because just as we are working through things to find balance in our lives, so too are they. We need each other, and we’re in it together, and although we may be making a lot of mistakes, with practice, patience and love we can create a ‘dance’ that is full of beauty, love, and passion.

Stumbling is a part of learning. And finding balance is a part of that process.

flamingo standing on brown soil
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two pink flamingos
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Lunch bites – bite sized inspiration on your lunch break…

What are you in such a hurry for?

Do you have a tendency to rush through your lunch breaks? Do you eat and drink ‘on the go’, and ‘wolf down’ your food while rushing to the next thing?  Or do you spend most if not all of your lunch breaks at your desk, and rarely actually get up and go for a walk or take a break in which you can actually slow down, stop, think….enjoy?

Maybe you work in a fast paced environment, where everything around you is ‘rush, rush, rush’. But do you honestly think that rushing all the time is actually more productive, time saving, and better in the long term? Could small steps everyday help to improve your wellbeing and avoid burnout…..and indigestion?! Or if you’re not really at risk of that, perhaps they could just help you to live better and enjoy your life more?

I don’t think all the rushing for rushing’s sake actually does save time. It simply ‘ramps up’ our nervous system and fight / flight response, but for what?

Maybe you have somewhere very important to be, very quickly, but I presume for most of us this is an occasional occurrence rather than our daily situation. So take a break, put down your work, and enjoy your lunch. Be grateful, enjoy the taste, smell, and texture of your food. Breathe deeply, eat more slowly, and when you do go back to work you will hopefully feel better, more refreshed and relaxed, and energized for the rest of the day.

Slow and steady wins the race….it tastes better too! 🙂

food salad restaurant person
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