Last fall, I really started to worry about the state of my own mental health. My motivation was low, my self esteem seemed to be declining, and I had very little excitement for social activities. As a woman who makes things happen, I knew something was wrong when “Netflix and Chill” was more of my real life than the code words 20-somethings were always posting about. I wanted to be out there, enjoying the company of my new coworkers, and getting the most of the new opportunities that fall generally provides. Alas, I barely had the energy to get through a day of work, let alone social activities afterwards.
I’ve known for a decade that the winter months are always hardest for my mental health, and I did what I could to combat SAD. I made myself look forward to things, took my vitamin D and B’s, focused on eating better, exercising more regularly, and continued to increase my knowledge base as this always seems to inspire me.
Towards the end of the winter, I took Mental Health First Aid, and my eyes were pried open. I always advocate for others to get help when facing these symptoms, but I had yet to follow my own advice. There’s always some excuse to not see someone – my schedule conflicts, it’s probably not as bad, etc. My health kept getting worse, though, and I finally spoke to someone!
It turns out, my biggest mental health concern was… BURNOUT! Yeah, I’m the woman who makes things happen…where do you think all of that energy comes from? For the last five years, I had been stressing myself out with the next big project, a new-to-me organization that gives back to the community, and putting so much effort into external relationships that I forgot about the most important role each and every one of us has in our lives – taking care of me!
Luckily, I caught this diagnosis just in time for the seasons to change, and the sun to inspire me into action. I LOVE SUMMER and SUNSHINE! Spring and summer is when I get the most done, and this year I had one primary goal: self care!
Of course, I also had a Big Party (a.k.a. ~ My Wedding) to finish preparing for, but self care through those preparations was key. I knew that if I didn’t shift my way of thinking about my life, this burnout was going to plague me for much longer…and that is NOT what the woman who Makes Things Happens wants for her life. Last autumn might have been the peak of my lacking motivation, but I had been feeling depleted for almost three years before that. Prioritizing other people, other – still important – tasks and roles, but never really taking enough time to rest, recover, and love myself first.
I bet I’m not alone. In fact, I know I’m not! As I recovered this summer, I began to socialize more, and I notice the signs of my own burnout in so many other people I come across. Always an empath, I want so desperately to help them all learn from my own experiences. Alas, we’re all on our own journey, and – as one of my favourite quote:
“We cannot teach people anything. We can only help them discover it within themselves.” ~ Galileo Galilei
There is another more famous quote that I love, too: when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Well, if you’re that student – you’re in luck! This Saturday, I will be leading a Fireside Chat at the Healthy Living Therapies Alberta Association (HLTAA)‘s “Experience Health” Fall Fair in Edmonton. In this Chat, we are going to address the guilt that so many people suffer from when they take time for self care. Oh dear, there was a tonne of guilt I had to get through with my own self care! After addressing that gremlin, we will then discuss how to shift that paradigm and prioritize self care. When you take time to care for you, you can care for others much better, and for much longer. I’m really excited to have this conversation with you!
If you have never heard of HLTAA before, please check out their website at: http://hltaa.org/
Tickets to the “Experience Health” Fall Fair are available on Eventbrite here. Regular admission price is only $15 and there’s a wonderful deal with that $15. Every person there will receive a $10 voucher to use at any one of the amazing health-focused vendors there. So, really, it’s only $5, with a further $10 investment into your health from one of the amazing people you will meet there. This is my first year attending the fair, but I have always heard great things. I am looking forward to seeing you there!