Health & Wellbeing

Physician heal thyself…

The irony is not lost on me: given my day job, have how I almost managed to burn myself out at work this year?

Despite everything I know (and preach), I’ve managed to wear myself down in 2019 – to the point where it all got a bit much for me. So, I’m going to need to start over, with some new healthier habits, and get some distance between me and the stuff that has been getting me down.

I’ve spent the last week – to the day – thinking about how I got here and what I can do about it. A more mindful approach, a considered approach is needed. I’ve taken on too much, bitten off more than I can chew across the various roles in my life and tried to get everything done to perfection.

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment last month at a conference where I attended a session on the toxicity of ‘very busy people’. Looking at the slides on the screen, scanning through all the symptoms of over-work and unsustainable demandingness, I recognised myself! It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

So before this turns into something really problematic, it’s time to do something about it. Everyone has mental health and right now, mine needs some TLC.

Surprised?

My blog is not a true representation of my life, no more than a documentary on TV can truly represent life. It’s the edited and curated clips that I’d like to share. So on top of all the smiling photos, there’s the hard work, disappointment and long hours I’ve been experiencing this year.

This week, I’ve started small. I’ve worked hard to get more sleep, eat better, cut out the beers and take more exercise. My Strava account lies barren, with no recorded runs in over six weeks. So I started with longer walks, which give me time to think. Including a 12km walk across Barcelona to the sea front earlier this week, while I was there on business.

I walked across town from my hotel to the Platja de Mar Bella, fully intending to lie out in the sun. But my brain said otherwise. Once I got there, not even the temptation of getting in some nude sunbathing could convince me to undress and lie down on the sand. I wasn’t relaxed, despite the sunshine and sound of the sea. And yet I felt exhausted.

Was this really me? Intentionally missing out on the chance to lie in the sun naked and work on my al-important tan? Yes, sadly.

More sleep loss that night, due to noisy hotel neighbours, combined with a punishing schedule on Thursday, had me begging to get home to my own bed Thursday night. I realised I need to do less of this kind of demanding business travel, and do more to look after me.

A trip to the doctor earlier in the week confirmed it – it’s not healthy to feel this way or to have these expectations of myself. And it’s beginning to show in my physical health as well as in my head.

But I’m lucky: I have support in my life, resources at hand and a lot of flexibility in how and when I do things for work. Last night, I had the first good night’s sleep in weeks. I’m feeling a bit more human, if still uncertain about what’s next.

This isn’t a plea for sympathy, more an attempt to be open. Plus it’s helpful to write about this kind of stuff, for me at least.

So, I’m frequently heard to say: onwards and upwards.

 

8 comments on “Physician heal thyself…

  1. I think it’s wonderful that you’re writing about this ๐Ÿ™‚ I understand all too well sadly. And I’m glad you are taking the time to do what you need to be you ๐Ÿ™‚ Be well โœŒโค

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Itโ€™s a good reminder that we all need to look after ourselves. Burnout is the worst – I experienced it before and itโ€™s an eye opener. I hope you are feeling back to yourself soon

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ethnicolor

    I also have some experience in going over the edge, stuck in very negative circles. Takes time and space to get out. Recovery is subtle; one day youโ€™re simply breathing easily again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: At least it has a name – MacPsych.me

  5. Pingback: Analogue musings – MacPsych.me

  6. Pingback: Turning a corner? – MacPsych.me

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