Coming Back From Burnout


I got burned out.

Lying in my hospital bed at the start of the year recovering from Pancreatitis I knew that I was broken.  I had just come back from a wonderful Christmas vacation in Tahiti but that wasn't enough to fix me.

Hospital Selfie
The year before, my office got word that we were closing down and would all be out of jobs.  Some people were laid off just after Christmas and the rest left in dribs and drabs over the course of the year.  The environment, the atmosphere, was very different as people openly expressed their fears, their anger, their hopelessness.  I had almost a whole year in that environment before my termination date and I thought I was doing a good job at staying positive.  In hindsight, I think it would have done me better to have negotiated to leave earlier.

I was also preparing for a big vacation to Scotland to visit my parents, sisters, family and friends that I hadn't seen in 5½ years.  I had a lot of anxiety around this trip but I had started seeing a therapist and this helped me develop coping strategies.  Now I'm out the other side of that I see that those mountains were definitely mole hills but they didn't feel like it at the time!

I stopped all my extra activities because I felt too stressed by their demands,  This included running, yoga, ice skating and choir.  I pretty much stopped seeing friends too.  It all felt like a chore.

Choir waiting to go on stage

So then I started my own contracting business.

Redundancy, reunions, starting a business and then health issues?  My answer was to take 3 months off.  I finished up the contract and focused on getting healthy.  Being a driven, perfectionist, control freak led me to burnout, but still here I was, scheduling in daily runs and yoga, planning my wardrobe decluttering project.  After 2 weeks of not living up to the schedule and constant berating by the inner critic, I realised that the only way to begin to recover is let go of the self-imposed demands and live schedule-free, for a little while at least.

My 3 months are almost up.  I sleep all the way through the night now, I don't need any prescription meds, I have started socialising and talking to people again and I have an exciting new job lined up.  I'm keen to start adding stuff back into my life, but I know I need to be slow and deliberate about it, so the next step for me, once I've had a week or two to settle into the new job, is to begin exercising but without any pressure to perform (and no signing up for races!).