So you don’t feel like taking part in the fun you used to. Once upon a time it was invigorating to join your friends, now it's just hard work. Maybe washing the dishes takes on the efforts required to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. Maybe it's hard to focus on tasks, and you’re feeling an emptiness or lack of any emotion entirely. It feels like the life has been sucked out of you.
Does it sound familiar? Probably. It’s an extremely common dilemma for nurses and midwives.
You have spent so much time and energy making sure others are well, that you have forgotten about yourself. Forgotten that you are worthy of attention. You show others care, supporting them to have their needs met. You listen, you give them time and creating a sense of safety and wellbeing. Whether it is a client, a colleague, a friend, or a family member, you have shown up for them. Now it is time for a shift of a different kind… You need to show up for yourself.
Burnout is where chronic states of stress have built up so much that the life force of joy and inspiration seem too far away to even feel familiar. Stress is not a bad thing for the body/mind function, but it most certainly becomes toxic for the system if it becomes a body/mind habit. Chronic stress influences the way we show up in the world, states of fatigue, lacklustre for life, lack of focus and disease, contributing to mental, physical and emotional illness.
The great thing is, today there is an abundance of evidence-based information about the impact of stress on the body/mind and with that the knowledge and tools which can reduce or even eliminate it, cultivating the cleansing of its negative impacts. It isn’t always easy to take on a new approach to life when stress has gained momentum and the ripple of its impacts have begun to flow readily into your life. But sometimes the bubble bursts and things get real and that voice you have not been listening to for a while, says things need to change.
What can you do to bring alive the awareness that you are worthy of your own attention?
First thing: Take a breath and acknowledge that you are good at giving care. Now is the time to recognise what it means to give self-care.
This is not an easy task for people that are great at giving. Learning the art of receiving is definitely a pathway of integrating wellbeing. A fully thriving organism requires balance. Giving and receiving is fundamental. Realising the limitations of doing life without exchange is where life exposes the imbalance and unfortunately that imbalance for a person rises in illness: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Support comes in many forms, it can come in professional relationships, therapy, a conversation, a helping hand, a mentor, a coach, diet, a program, a doctor, a colleague, a family member or friend.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” affirms research professor and author Brené Brown in her book Rising Strong.
It’s funny how we find it easy to say yes to others, but not to ourselves and it’s hard to say no to others, but no to ourselves comes easy. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Saying no doesn’t mean that you are being rude, selfish, or unkind. These are all unhelpful beliefs that make it hard to say no. Learning where these beliefs have come from is a great way to learn to let go of them.
Did you ever wonder why it was so easy to say no when you were a little kid and why it has become so difficult now? What happened? No was regarded as impolite or inappropriate when we were young, framing up the way we believe the world. Now no is impolite or inappropriate. Getting to the root of the reflex framed up as beliefs allows a new pathway to be formed in creating new habits of wellbeing.
If you truly do want to embrace a thriving life, discovering and developing self-enquiry processes allows new pathways to be birthed, learning to say YES to your self-care requires new pathways to become your reflex and learning ways to shift pathways requires attention.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — Buddha
Chronic stress can create an impact of physical and biological patterns. Unfortunately equating to a constant drip of poison through the system which has a detrimental influence over the functioning of organs. To regulate the impact, taking on activities such as conscious breathing, meditation, yoga and certain types of movement elevate the system's regenerative properties.
“If you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself.” —Dalai Lama
Science tells us that the interactions between genes and environment shape human development and human experience. Our environment influences our genetic expression. Putting yourself in environments that are in harmony supports your cells to fire and wire to such synthesis. Choosing to take time in nature, bathe in a bath of great scents, eat clean food, or listen to music that brings on good feelings is where you are choosing to support your body/mind to recalibrate, cleanse and regenerate with the support of your environment.
“Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners.” — William Shakespeare
Your wellbeing is your number one asset. Elevate it, nurture it, appreciate it.
You are worthy of your own attention.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” — Eleanor Brown
Attention please! You are worthy of attention. Ask for support, learn to say YES to yourself and NO to others, discover the tools that flush away the impact of stress, connect with environments that are in harmony and be unapologetic about your self-care.
Marie Louise and Kerrie Otto de Grancy recently joined us on the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast. Listen to the episode. If you need someone to talk to, Nurse & Midwife Support is here. Call us on 1800 667 877 or reach out by email.