I can’t make you do it. But the universe will. It happened to me. I got burned out. And it is no fun reaching that point. All of a sudden you are just immobilized. First, your body and your mind will warn you to slow down, and if you don’t your body and your mind will shut down. I really wish I had heeded the signs because it took me a long time to come back from that.
But I did come back, and I came back by working for myself. The same kind of urgency I moved with to achieve the goals that others set for me, I began to apply to my own goals. Everyone else had to wait. And they did wait. The chaos that I thought would break loose if I did not extend myself and try to plug all the holes never happened. The world moved on. It was just moving on without me.
So, I put me first. The burnout gradually faded, but it took a lot of self-care. It took a lot of me loving on me. Here is how I did it:
- I slept. A long time. Over many days and weeks.
- I drank a lot of water. I visualized toxins leaving my body with each glass.
- I asked people to leave me alone. Most did. The others got no response. They had been warned.
- I began to journal my thoughts and feelings. This helped me a lot because once it was on paper, I stopped spinning my wheels (and burning energy) trying to process the same problems.
- I made a list of all the things I would do if no one (and no thing) stopped me and then slowly, but surely I started to read about ways that I could do this. This was not tiring work because it was work for me.
- I carved out time in my day just for me. I set my alarm clock and gave myself breaks to dream or just sit quietly. I kept my own appointments as rigidly as I would keep those set by someone else. I owed this to me.
- I began to talk to myself- a lot. I poured into myself. I reminded myself that I am made up of the same stuff as stars. I am great. I can do anything. I told myself this over and over until I believed it.
- I sought professional help. I had to. Even though I am a therapist I did not have all the answers. It is like an oncologist operating on his own cancer. It cannot be done.
- I shared my journey with others. This helped me work through a lot of pain. All the rejection, backstabbing, and blindsides had not been in vain. I came out stronger and now I am using what I learned to help others.
- I gave myself the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of every day and fit in a lot in between. I started taking long baths again, reading, and walking.
- I practice mindful breathing, intentionally look for beauty, and make long gratitude lists.
Listen to your mind and to your body. Talk about where you are in life. Talk about where you want to be. If you are reading this and think there is no way you have time to do any of this- then you are the person I am talking to the most.
Print this out and carry it with you. Read it over and over again until you have the courage to put you first. There is nothing selfish about it. When you put you first, everyone around you benefits. Take it from someone who has been there. We need to develop more empathy for ourselves. Follow along at #TakingCareOfMeIn2023 and #MakeAWayMindset.