It's that brutal 3pm energy crash that renders you a sugar junkie. The annoying inability to sleep despite exhaustion. Mood swings that your nearest and dearest bear the brunt of. An increasing need for an evening tipple. Apathy for your latest project. Apathy for life.
These are the signs that you're heading for burnout.
Ignore them at your peril.
My own spectacular crash featured all of the above with the added indignity of weight gain, bloating, bad skin, indigestion and heart palpitations.
Burnout is not sexy.
It steals your looks, your libido and your lust for life.
Your passion wanes. Your sparkle gutters. You no longer believe in magic.
I remember feeling all wrung out. And I hadn't even reached my 40th birthday. A sorry state for a once-vibrant woman, supposedly in her prime.
I had been the classic career girl. A university degree led to a top job that I threw my heart and soul into. Two decades later I owned a nice house and had a few quid in the bank. But I was physically and spiritually bankrupt.
But a funny thing happens when you're brought to your knees. You see the world from a different perspective. For me it was a revelation.
I noticed I wasn't the only one running on empty. All around me really clever people were doing really stupid things in the name of their careers, oblivious to the consequences. Relationships were breaking down, depression was commonplace and serious health conditions were emerging.
It was shocking. Yet still they worked. And worked and worked and worked.
"I need the money."
"I want a bigger house."
"I've got responsibilities. I can't just jack it all in."
But here's what else I discovered.
You don't have to jack it all in if you look after yourself properly. You don't have to choose between extremes. Corporate Whore versus Benefits Slob. You find the middle ground where you can still do work you love, get paid exceptionally well and safeguard your health and happiness.
These days I'm choosing bliss over burnout, and inspiring fellow career women to do the same. During my epic mission of recovery, I learned all about exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, and the vital importance of self-care. Here are the essentials:
- Eat whole foods. The right nutrition makes a dramatic difference to your energy levels and mental attitude. Take a good multi-vitamin and explore minerals and supplements. Consult an expert nutritionist if you have to.
- Realise that sugar is not your friend. It creates havoc with your hormones and exacerbates adrenal weakness. Quitting will be easier than you think when the other pieces of the jigsaw are in place.
- Don't take poor sleep lying down. Try everything (except drugs) to improve the quality of your shut-eye. Cut right down on caffeine. And booze. Experiment with acupuncture, energy healing and herbal remedies.
- Begin a morning meditation practice and cultivate a relationship with your intuition. Don't say you don't have time. Just ten minutes per day will have a significant impact. It will make everything easier.
- Open your mind to the wonders of the world. Read stuff that freaks you out a little. Pray like you did when you were a little kid. Just start talking to God or the Universe and see if anyone talks back.
- Embark on a passionate love affair, with you. Treat yourself like a Goddess. Candle-lit baths. Beautiful lingerie. Indulgent pleasures. Always buy the best you can afford and opt for quality over quantity.
When you prioritise your wellbeing in this way, you will soon reap the benefits. Renewed passion for life. Endless energy. Spectacular mental clarity. A defined sense of purpose.
Work takes on new meaning. You'll be more efficient, creative and inspired.
You'll make the right decisions. You'll know when to walk away. When to say no. When to say yes.
You'll become more courageous. Greater risk equals greater reward. You'll embrace both with conviction.
Most importantly, you'll know when to stop.
A woman in her prime should feel healthy, wealthy, happy, sexy and zen.
Don't let burnout rob you of that.