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What burning out taught me

I woke up with my heart pounding outside of my chest. My to-do list in my mind, rattling off what felt like the hundreds of things I *HAD TO* achieve that day. Ok… Deep breath. I reached for my phone. I hadn’t even wiped the sleep out from my eyes… And there I was… Staring at: 27 Facebook notifications, 19 Instagram notifications, 13 What’s app messages and 95 EMAILS! Oh and also 4 missed calls from before 7:00am. And I had only put my phone down at 10:00pm the night before. I wanted to burst into tears.

I was exhausted and the day hadn’t even begun yet.

Is this sounding familiar?

This was my life several years ago. This was my life when I had NO balance. I think back to this time and wonder “what on earth were you thinking Cands?!” That pace wasn’t just unsustainable, it was so dangerously unhealthy and there were many signs starting to show.

My fitness had all but disappeared. I felt rattled all the time. Like a vase balancing and wobbling precariously on the edge of a table, just waiting to fall. I struggled to fall asleep. I struggled to stay asleep. I had this deep-seated fear always lingering… “Something is going to crash” I thought over and over. “I’m going to forget something super important.” “Something is going to break”. And sadly, what did break was me. I didn’t see that coming. Eeep.

In the many years since then, I’ve pieced so much back together. I can see where it started (my fear of failure), I can see why it persisted (my addiction to perfection), and now I know with wisdom deep in my bones, how I managed to put an end to what I can only describe as complete and utter madness.

In coaching many clients through similar rebalancing phases, there are a few really important things I’ve come to know. Themes and activities that I see over and over again working, in putting balance back into our lives. And interestingly, many of these are SO well linked to the research that is being done in Blue Zones. These are communities that are the centre of huge, global research. They have significantly longer life expectancy than other communities, and researchers are asking that golden question: “Why?”

1. Work / home transition

Over the years, I’ve come to realize the importance of what this research calls “downshifting.” How do you signal to your mind and body that the work day is over? These communities have routines for de-stressing post-work. A few things in my and my clients tool kit that might interest you: yoga, mindful walking in nature, watering your plants, your favourite form of exercise, trying a new recipe, meeting a friend for coffee… Essentially, I’ve found those things that completely absorb all our senses are a great way to destress and signal the downshift out of work and into home.

2. Support network

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Your immediate family yes, but those extended family members and close friends that know you, that get you and that you feel incredibly supported by. Seek them out, and nurture your relationships with them. Those that also understand the importance of balance. Research on the Blue Zones have found that healthy behaviour is contagious! So, that friend that is always nagging at you to join her for a run? Do it!

3. Fun! AKA: play for grown-ups 😉 

This is linked to point 1, but curiosity and play in our lives really knocks the seriousness out our sails, and opens the door to wonder, creativity and being in the present moment. Which, I’ve found with many clients, leads to incredible resilience in stressful patches. Take an art class, play catch with your dog, dance to your favourite pop song in your kitchen… Anything that is purely for the sake of process. Not work-related. Simply, play for the sake of play! Let your hair down my sweet! It’s the best vitamin you can take to cope with stress 😊

4. Getting off social media… 

There is lots and lots of research on this, so I’m not going to bore you with the deets. But let’s just say endless screen time is not a good thing. I struggled to fall asleep if I had been glued to my phone, tablet and even TV before bedtime. I’ve found a few great hacks with social media and screen time which have made the world of difference to my sleep, and overall balance. 

Several of my clients have done the same with really great results. I’ve shared them in the #careergirlcollab community here. (Pop in and let me know what’s worked for you!)

(PS: If your link above does not work for some reason, head on over to our Facebook group, click on the “albums” section of the group, and then click on “The Insider Secrets Blog Series” – voila!)

5. Purpose

Now, this is my FAV part! #noguesseswhy Lol! Those that live in Blue Zones appear to have a clear sense of purpose. They know why they are getting up in the morning, and feel that they have a meaningful job to head to. In fact, knowing our sense of purpose adds an extra 7 years onto our life expectancy. So, if you haven’t heard me say this over and over again, please my sweet, get clear on the direction you’re taking your career and business in. If you don’t feel you have it yet, spend the time you need to on getting clear on the right, meaningful role for you. As always, if you need help on this, pop a reply back to this email. More than happy to chat with you about it!

Work/life balance feels elusive, but it really isn’t. With the right action plan and a strong will to put balance back into our lives it is 100% achievable. It’s not something that you do once-off and all is resolved. It requires daily commitment and discipline. Most importantly, when we don’t feel like it. It’s also not something you necessarily have to change completely overnight. Just start with one small step in the right direction. And you’ll see the benefits roll in quickly!

Have these tips helped you? Which will you be giving a bash?

Love, and oh so much clarity!
Cands x

(PSSST: Psst: 2 of my fav articles on this topic here and here).

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