How to Recognise When Burnout is Eeking its way Into Your Life

April 7, 2016 /   /  Uncategorized

I believe, when broken down to its simplest form, burnout results when we turn away from ourselves consistently, away from our deepest needs and desires and how we truly want to be expressing ourselves in this world.

Growing up, I feel like the information coming to me dictated that satisfaction, fulfillment, and acceptance were to be achieved from looking outside of ourselves. I think I launched an internal rebellion against this notion at an early age.

It makes sense though if you think that as a baby, we are completely reliant on our mothers and fathers. As a child, we look for our parents’ approval as we learn right from wrong. As we grow into adolescence, we learn from the media and potentially society and those close to us, that success and fulfillment can be reached by buying a beautiful home, driving a flashy car, finding a beautiful and successful partner, and collecting clothes and other possessions.

It is up to each of us as individuals to work out what and how much of the external we ACTUALLY need to live a good life and to also pay heed to cultivate a rich internal world that will support us when the external gets shaken as it inevitably does in the day to day of life.

The key, therefore, is in finding the balance between doing what we need to do in the external world and making sure we take the utmost care of ourselves internally in order to enable us to do what we need to do in the external world, it’s a virtuous cycle.

So how can we tell if we’re on the path to burnout?

Psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North have divided the burnout process into 12 phases, in a Scientific American Mind article (, these stages are outlined as:

1. The Compulsion to Prove Oneself;
2. Working Harder; an inability to switch off.
3. Neglecting Their Needs; erratic sleeping, eating disrupted, lack of social interaction.
4. Displacement of Conflicts; problems are dismissed, we may feel threatened, panicky and jittery.
5. Revision of Values; values are skewed, friends and family dismissed, hobbies seen as irrelevant,
6. Denial of Emerging Problems; intolerance, cynicism, aggression; problems are viewed as caused by time pressure and work, not because of life changes.
7. Withdrawal; social life small or non-existent, need to feel relief from stress, alcohol/drugs.
8. Odd Behavioural Changes; changes in behaviour obvious, friends and family concerned.
9. Depersonalization; seeing neither self nor others as valuable, and no longer perceive own needs.
10 Inner Emptiness; feeling empty inside and to overcome this, look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, or drugs; activities are often exaggerated.
11. Depression; feeling lost and unsure, exhausted, future feels bleak and dark.
12. Burnout Syndrome; can include total mental and physical collapse; time for full medical attention.

I can relate to at least 9 out of the 12 above from my personal experience of burnout (and resurrection – if you didn’t catch that yet, you can do so here: There was a surefire theme in the feedback from the personal story I shared when I asked you: what three things needed to come into place when you experienced burnout to get you to the other side?

The consensus was:
1. Space,
2. Time and rest,
3. And a support network – that you can call on for emotional support (people who you can safely share with what’s going on for you) and also instrumental support (asking for help and support with the day to day tasks of your life)

All simple but crucial elements we can look to cultivate more of in our lives.

This world needs people who are living their best lives and contributing to the planet in a positive and meaningful way.

Thank you so much for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.

Here’s my challenge for you – review the list of 12 stages above and let me know in the comments below how many you can relate to (or have related to in the past).


How to Feel Supported and be a Great Support

April 13, 2016 /   /  Uncategorized

There is a part of me that still feels a little reluctant to share what is real for me (and I think that’s kinda natural). It can feel scary to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to open our hearts and to share our story. I’ve learnt though that for me, the internal rewards far outweigh the initial fear.

I’ve found that seeking support, talking with others and sharing my problems can help to reduce the feeling of stress inside and also to build my resilience. As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. When we share what’s going on for us, it alleviates the emotional charge from the problem and lets it sit in a more neutral place where you can allow the solutions to gracefully come forward.

I’ve been reflecting this last week on being supported and being supportive and what I’m realising is that both aspects are active, engaged processes. We might think of being supported as being more passive but it’s actually quite active too. You can’t support someone who is unwilling to receive support and you’ll never feel supported unless you are willing to be vulnerable, to open yourself up to the possibility that someone else may be able to help you, may have the key to help you unlock the next level, even if that is purely in listening to what is going on for you.

So, here’s what I’ve identified as some of the steps in the process to supporting and being supported:

How to support:
– Ask how someone is or if they are okay
– Allow them to share their story
– Listen with an open heart and mind – try to listen to them actively rather than spending that time trying to think of your response (the response will come naturally when needed if you are actively listening)
– A lot of the time, the power of the support is in the listening, in allowing someone to be heard and accepted along with their struggle
– If you have feedback, deliver it gently, this person has just made themselves vulnerable by sharing themselves and needs to be treated accordingly – remember that support isn’t forceful, it’s an offering
– Accept that your feedback may be taken on or may not – your feedback will be coming from your point of view which whether you like it or not, means that it’s coming through your own personal filter of experience, in addition, the person you’re speaking with may simply not be in a place yet to receive that information and that’s okay too, you can still deliver it and if it’s going to be of use to them later they can draw on that again from their memory or ask you more about it
– Thank the person for sharing their story with you – this creates a feeling of safety for them – you are a safe place for them to share what’s going on for them.

How to be supported:
– Surround yourself with a handful of solid friends or family you can call on when things get tough
– Reach out to whoever you feel is most appropriate given the issue you are dealing with
– Allow yourself to feel vulnerable and drop into your heart space
– Be willing to share your story, putting aside your fear of what others may think of you
– Accept feedback with grace and also take it with a grain of salt (as well meaning as your peeps are, we all operate through our own filter so take what feels right to you and leave the rest)
– Be thankful and appreciative of the support you’ve received
– Notice what you liked and didn’t like about how you were supported so you can refine your own support skills (we’re all constantly learning and improving)
– Pay it forward – offer support to someone who sounds a bit off when you speak to them or looks like they are having a rough time

We all experience pain and struggle at points in our life and one of the most critical factors for us is in having support around us. Feeling supported by those around you starts with supporting yourself too; believing that you and your life are worthy and capable of being better.

There is a gratitude exercise you can try right now where you spend just three minutes thinking of all the people in your life who’s support you are grateful for. Go ahead, take the time right now, it will give you an instant buzz.

I feel blessed by the support around me. I’m also incredibly grateful that I now have the wisdom to call on that support when needed.

I’d love to hear from you. Can you add any other steps in the process to supporting or being supported?

Let me know in the comments below.


Diving Into the Deep Unknown

April 20, 2016 /   /  Uncategorized

Last Saturday I went scuba diving for the first time. It was a Xmas gift from Tom who accompanied me on the day.

Before the day, my primary concerns were around what might be lurking down at the bottom of the ocean. There were reports of bait balls (big schools of fish) with large sharks herding them and warnings for swimmers. There had also been reports of a 3-metre bull shark in the area a couple of weeks prior – according to National Geographic, experts consider bull sharks to be the most dangerous in the world – yippee hooray!

Despite all this, I was determined to proceed. I was assured by Tom that the dive would be safe and I trusted that our instructor would be able to expertly guide us through any issues.

We had an 8:30am start at the dive school in the centre of Byron where our guide began by running us through some theory before we got geared up for the pool training aspect of the intro course.

I squeezed myself into a wetsuit I thought may never come off, then put on some tiny wetsuit shoes. The four of us intro divers gathered around the pool and had the equipment explained to us – a weight belt, a mask with snorkel, a set of flippers, the BCD – Buoyancy Control Device (otherwise known as inflatable jacket with the pumper upper and downer), air tank and 2 x regulators.

It was a lot to take in, especially at that time of day and after a night of celebration (and I don’t drink coffee so couldn’t rely on that pick me up!).

We spent a good half hour in the pool with all our equipment on and had three tests we had to complete for our guide in order to get the go-ahead for the ocean dive. It felt weird being so weighed down and constricted, and the water felt cold especially down my back. Being submerged in the water is a very personal experience. You can’t talk to anyone or communicate with any great depth. You are alone with yourself, inside your mind and inside your body.

We passed the test, walked out of the pool and up to the boat where we were helped out of our gear.

We walked toward the bus and as we did the schlump of the wetsuit between my legs reminded me of something I saw on Instagram recently posted by a friend – if you’re thighs are touching, you’re one step closer to being a mermaid. I considered making a joke to Tom but was too nervous about what lay ahead to get the words out.

In the boat on the way out to Julian Rocks, all three other members of my intro dive team – Tom and the two circus boys (literally from a travelling circus visiting town), were being sarcastic joking about sharks in the water and what a great idea it was for us to be jumping in. I couldn’t possibly engage. My internal world was primed and I was deep inside myself already.

We did the classic backwards slip off the boat and into the water then our guide instructed us one by one down the mooring rope and under the water.

It was really one of those ‘feel your fear and do it anyway’ kind of moments for me. I was definitely feeling the fear, the lack of control, the unfamiliarity.

The only option was to trust (or try to trust as that may be) myself, my guide and the experience.

Seems diving is all about weight balancing, that is you want to maintain a level of buoyancy which allows you to swim just above the bottom of the ocean. You don’t want to touch the bottom and disturb marine life, not to mention the Wobbegong Sharks that hang out on the bottom and can be unhappy when you startle them. You also don’t want to float to the top.

Apparently women are more of a challenge to get weighted correctly and our guide had some difficulty in getting mine right so was adding and subtracting from my weight belt while we were out there. A lot of the time I was stuck to the bottom of the ocean floor which didn’t add to my state of calm. Then our guide would take off some weights and I’d float up again.

While we saw plenty of sea life – Wobbegong Sharks, Turtles, a Spotted Ray, loads of fish, Sea Urchins, a Painted Cray, a Leopard Shark – the truth is that I spent the majority of my time underwater managing my own emotional state.

What I realised was that if I had a moment of fear (freak out) inside, it would magnify outside of me in that my breathing would get faster, then there would be more bubbles around me and I’d freak out even more.

This was exacerbated with the obstacle of having 4 intro divers, not completely in control of their own movements, trying to stay close together under the water with the guide so I’d have someone unknowingly hit me with their hand, flipper, tank in amongst trying to get the water out of my mask, maintain a steady breath, stay calm, remember what all these bits of equipment were for and of course wonder at all the sea creatures around us.

We were under water for 40 minutes in total. And it was one of those weird experiences where every moment felt like a lifetime but when we finished it felt like it had only lasted 10 minutes.

Since the dive, everyone’s been asking me with hopeful eyes – “So, was it fun??”

Well, fun probably isn’t the word I’d use to describe it.

It was an experience. An experience in presence.

After the dive, it took me a good hour to get my words back.

I’ve been a water baby all my life and consider myself pretty solid emotionally so I found it very interesting to feel so discordant under the water. I’m glad I did the dive because I like trying new things and pushing outside of my comfort zone. I think it keeps us fresh, interested and inspired.

My Step Dad Charlie always says the test is – would you do it again?

Yeah, I would.

I’m actually keen to do it again soon while the equipment and experience are still familiar and am keen as well to do the 4-day dive course at some stage too.

I can see the potential for the experience to be awesome and that’s what will get me back there.

So I’m curious, what experience(s) have you had that wasn’t exactly what you thought it would be but you would totally do again??