February 26, 2014

Could You Be Experiencing Burnout?

Are you waking up and wondering how you are going to get through the day? Anxious about how you are going to find the energy and motivation to get through all the things you need to do…let alone the things you want to do? Are you just feeling ‘blah?’

It is very likely you are experiencing burnout.


Photo Credit: Vic via Flickr CC

But what is burnout? According to Helpguide

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

Do you know this feeling? Most people will experience burnout at some point in their life. There is a solution, however; do less and do more. It’s not as contradictory as it sounds…

Doing Less

When you are suffering from burnout, you need to give yourself permission to do less by only doing the things that you have to do. You have lots of responsibilities, right? Doing less is not about dismissing those responsibilities. Doing less is about honouring those responsibilities, but not going that ‘extra-mile’ for now.

Is giving yourself permission to do less something you struggle with?

This is often the hardest part.

When you are used to doing a lot for other people, it can be challenging to your sense of self when you decide to back off. When notions of being a ‘good’ Mum/Dad/wife/husband/friend are tied up with how you care for others, it can be hard to allow yourself the time you need to restore your energy and enthusiasm for life.

It is hard…but it is necessary.

The quicker you intervene, the better. The longer you experience burnout the more it affects all other aspects of your life, and the higher your risk of becoming sick.

To start doing less, start thinking about ways to cut back your daily ‘to-do list.’

Maybe only iron the clothes you need this week and leave the rest till next week. Maybe cook a few meals from packet mixes this week instead of going all out with meals made from scratch. Try delegating some tasks to someone else. Begin to slow down.  

No doubt as you think of doing less you will meet some internal resistance;

· “I don’t want to look lazy”

· “Isn’t it self-indulgent?”

· “My family will be upset”

· “I hate not feeling productive”

· “Everyone else seems to be dealing so well, why aren’t I?”

· “I can’t delegate, no one else can do it like I do it…they just don’t know how”

Sound familiar? Unfortunately when you are burnt out you need to let go of any controlling tendencies you might have, as hard as it is.You need to do what is necessary to start looking after you.

That is the first step of recovery. The second step is doing more…

Doing More

Take more time out to reconnect, relax and rejuvenate. Once you are feeling reenergised you can hit the ground running again. Don’t feel guilty taking time out for yourself.

What things can you do today to start caring for yourself?

Would a walk along the beach help? Maybe a relaxed glass of wine after work and an early night? Maybe some time out at a cafĂ© with a good book and a coffee…I know that always works for me.

By doing less on your ‘to-do list’ and more you of the things that relax you, you will be able to rejuvenate quickly and bounce back from burnout. There is a time for everything, and now is the time to take care of yourself…then you can get back into the world and give it your all.

xxx Jess xxx

February 17, 2014

Why You Shouldn’t Give Up

There are times in life when it’s hard to believe that things are going to get better. When your life starts to go a bit ‘pear-shaped’ it’s easy to get bogged down in negative feelings and to feel completely overwhelmed. Don’t give up.


Photo Source: Sylphwood via Flick CC

At times like this, we so desperately want to know it is going to be okay; that we are going to make it through. Sometimes it is hard to find that hope, that belief in our ability to be strong and resilient. I know this because I have been on the other side of happiness, health and hope myself.

Six years ago my life was unrecognisable.

Six years ago I lost my health, and with it my job, my independence and my sense of self. While I was optimistic about life, I wasn’t sure I would recover. Without recovery I feared I might not achieve the things in my life I so desperately wanted to.

After finding there was no cure for my illness, or any treatments that helped me, I had to accept that I might never work fulltime, travel overseas, dance or exercise again, get married or have children. This was certainly not the life I had envisaged for myself, yet this was the path I was on.

Despite what was happening to me, I was determined not to let illness rob me of my happiness and my chance to live a life I was proud of. So I made the hard decision to accept my reality…to let go of my monkey grip on my ‘pre-planned’ dreams.

Instead, I looked at my life from a new perspective. Based on the ‘new me,’ I looked at what capacity I still had, what I could still do to live a good life. I also understood the preciousness of life, and began doing more things that brought me joy and happiness.

What I didn’t know at the time was how this decision to shift my mindset would transform my life in so many wonderful ways. What I didn’t know was that life was going to get much better and that I didn’t need to wait for a cure to start living well.

Six years since my diagnosis, my life is again unrecognisable…but this time in a good way.

While I haven’t recovered fully, in the last few years I have been able to re-enter the workforce (although still not full time), I started salsa dancing where I met a lovely man who has been my boyfriend for the past two years. With this supportive and loving man I have been able to travel to some fantastic countries around the world.

I really couldn’t have pictured any of this happening six years ago. I never imagined that I would be standing under the Eiffel Tower, but in 2012 that was exactly what I did. Last week I celebrated my 29th birthday, and like all birthdays, it became an opportunity for reflection.

I am humbled by the life I am now living; I feel so much happiness and gratitude. I still have significant limitations, only this weekend I was back in bed feeling quite sick because I did too much during the week. But that’s okay because I have accepted that this is part of my life.

You see when you lose so much, anything you gain you feel so profoundly. The first time I put sneakers on to go for a walk I almost cried. It felt so great to be able to do something I hadn’t for years; something I wasn’t sure I would ever get to do again.

No one is immune to hardship, be it from illness or a whole gamut of other life issues. If we want to live well amidst our hardships, though, we must choose how we will respond to our life. German writer, Walter Anderson says it well;

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”

Is it easy? No. At times it feels nothing short of horrendous. It can seem unfathomable that you will feel good again, but you will. It can feel impossible that one day you might wake up and not experience dread, fear, anxiety or sadness the second your eyes are open, but you will.

It’s not time to give up your hopes and dreams. Now is the time to commit to living as well as you can in the moment that you are in. Now is the time to “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” as Arthur Ashe an American tennis player so wisely said.

Hang on tight, it gets easier. Great things can come from some of the worst situations in our lives…happiness can break through.

Xxx Jess xxx

February 11, 2014

Make Yourself Happy Today

Back when I was at university, I rented a house with two girls. Each Sunday the local florist would sell their flowers cheaply, and each Sunday the girls would do their shopping and come home with beautiful bunches of bright flowers. They would arrange them in vases and enjoy them for the next week or so.

I found this surprising…

Since when did women buy flowers for themselves?


Photo Credit: Karen via Flickr CC

Both girls at the time didn’t have partners, so I assumed that was why they bought themselves flowers. Initially I thought it was a little sad, because I was of the belief that if you wanted to enjoy flowers you needed to wait for that ‘special someone’ to give them to you. There was a problem with my way of thinking though…

I love having fresh flowers in my home; they make me happy and remind me that the world is a beautiful place. The problem was, however, that even though I had a boyfriend, I had only ever received flowers twice in the two years we had been together.

Was he a bad boyfriend? No, not at all.

Was it stupid of me to wait till he thought to give me flowers before I could enjoy the happiness they bring me? Yes, definitely.

I know I’m not the only woman who feels this way about flowers. The problem is many men don’t feel the same way. Flowers aren’t often the first thing they think of when buying you a present. Is there a problem with this? No.

What is a problem though is denying yourself something you love and that brings you joy when it is well within your own reach to make it happen. It only takes $6 to buy a beautiful bunch of Gerberas.

But this isn’t just about flowers, is it? Why do we wait or rely on another person to make us happy? Why do we take such a passive role in our lives sometimes?

I’m not just talking about women either. It’s never a healthy move to defer your happiness to someone else. It’s never a good idea to expect someone to ‘make’ you happy. Not only will you be disappointed, because people aren’t perfect, but it’s an unfair amount of pressure to put on someone else.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy happiness from those around us and from the relationships we are in...far from it. Relationships are the main area of our lives from which we derive happiness. What I am saying is we shouldn’t look solely to others to fill any ‘gaps’ in our lives.

I dislike when people get married or start a relationship and say the other person had made them ‘whole.’ What a burden for the other person. Relationships challenge you to be better but they shouldn’t ‘complete’ you or make you ‘whole.’ What happens if those relationships change or end for some reason?

“Make yourself happy. Don’t wait for someone else to step into your life before you begin to enjoy the things you love, the things that bring you joy.”

This Friday is Valentine’s Day. Whether you are with someone or not, know that the best way to enjoy happiness in life is to first make yourself happy. The beauty of happy people is they attract other happy people and the cycle is self-perpetuating.

Want more love, excitement and happiness in your life? Go out and get it…like attracts like. (Of yeah, and if you love flowers buy yourself a bunch this week).

xxx Jess xxx

February 5, 2014

50 Shades of Grey

At the ripe old age of 28 I think I am getting old prematurely…  

clock   Photo Credit: Artiom Gorgan via Flickr cc

I’m officially part of the 50 Shades of Grey Club (no not the other one!). Doing my hair in the mirror just before Christmas last year, I had the shock most women dread…I discovered my first grey hair…well hairs, plural, actually.

Actually they weren’t even grey, they were white.

Maybe you did what I did when you had your ‘grey moment.’ I thought, “Ah it must just be a really blonde hair” or “Maybe it was just a random one that doesn’t mean anything” or even better, “Maybe it’s just the light.”

For women in particular, issues tied up with beauty and body image are always a bit tricky. I’m not a woman who focuses too much on my appearance, yet there is something about finding your first grey hair that screams “you are getting old,” “you aren’t as young as you used to be.” It’s not the nicest of feelings.

It’s not just women who face these issues though, men do too. But does it really matter? Does it really change your ability to live a happy and fulfilled life? Whether it is grey hair, hair loss, cellulite, stretch marks or another birthday, does it really change anything?

It can if you let it.

“You see, what we choose to say to ourselves, is the most important conversation we will have in the day, and in fact our lives.”

Don’t be fooled…we all talk to ourselves. It is that little voice providing commentary on everything that is happening to you and around you.

Often this little voice focuses on the negatives and the worst case scenarios. Be aware and take note of this inner conversation. If you want to encourage a more upbeat conversation with yourself, don’t always listen to this voice.

Challenge your inner dialogue until what you are saying to yourself is supportive. Challenge your inner voice by asking ‘”Is this really true?” and “Is there another, more positive way, I could view this issue/situation?”  

In the moment I had a small flip out about finding grey hair I knew I had a choice to make: fixate on it and get depressed thinking that my body is changing before I want it to, or shrug my shoulders and have a laugh about it.

Having already gone down the illness path with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at 23, I have long since accepted that our bodies can change at any time, and in ways we might not always like.

So, I chose to have a laugh and see the funny side. I sent my boyfriend a text having a giggle that a ‘white Christmas’ had come early for me. What is the shame after all?

What is your ‘grey moment’ story? What does it mean to you to age with pleasure, not fear?