The last couple of years I really got interested in topics like ‘how to be more resilient’, ‘how to take better care of yourself’, ‘how to prevent a burn-out’, ‘what to do about stress’,… I read books and articles about these topics and I went to a couple of workshops.
Even though I am not an expert in these topics, I wanted to share my knowledge about all I learned and at work I got the opportunity to give an inspiration session, which I entitled ‘Boost your energy’. I got a lot of good reactions about my inspiration session and also about the brochure I made for the people who attended my inspiration session
As I’ve got all this content about ‘Boost your energy’ and because it is a subject I feel very connected to, I’ve decided to write regular ‘Boost your energy’ blogposts here on my good, fab and lovely blog. I hope that these posts will give your energy a boost so that you can stand in life with a little more resilience and with a little less stress…
In these ‘Boost your energy’ blogposts, I will tell you all about how you can become aware of your energy level, I will talk about different sources of energy that can affect your energy level and I will give you heaps of tips on what you can do yourself to give your energy level a boost.
But I want to start with sharing with you why I became so interested in this topic. Why did I decide to share my knowledge in a workshop and now here on my blog? Read on to find out!
Let’s go back in time a bit… to 2015 as a matter of fact… when ‘it’ happened without me even noticing…
One by one all my lights went out and all of a sudden I was told ‘you have a burn-out’.
Now I have to be honest, at that moment the news came like a thunderbolt in the clear sky. A burn-out? Me??? That just couldn’t be possible! I could always handle everything, I always took care of everything & everyone, I could always go on and on,… Surely it must be something else???
But when I was completely honest with myself, I had to admit it: I felt exhausted, I didn’t feel valued anymore, I wasn’t motivated anymore and I went through life on automatic pilot. I had never made the link with ‘burn-out’ though, but when I look back upon it now, the signals were clear: I had a flu here, a cold there, I had problems with my back and neck, I often felt dizzy in my head, I couldn’t concentrate at work or at home, I had a constant headache,… I neglected all these symptoms and dragged on and on in life.
Then I was troubled again by a virus that I used to have in my ear years ago. I went to the otologist to get it looked after and she treated the virus as she did years ago. There was one difference though… after 6 weeks of treating the virus, the symptoms remained, even though the virus was treated. It was the otologist who then said to me ‘I’ cannot help you anymore. Your blood shows that the virus in your ear is treated but you keep having all these symptoms. In my opinion you’ve got a burn-out which is the reason you still feel so sick’.
I was startled… but also relieved to hear that it was ‘just’ a burn-out as I had been really afraid that it would be something malign!
I could therefore accept the diagnosis and I went to my general practitioner who advised me to see a psychologist.
And I am glad that I went into therapy, because the conversations with the psychologist were really helpful. I had been going on for over a decade, trying to keep the balance between my home situation with a husband who had a chronic disease (read here) whilst raising three kids, doing my best at work and trying to squeeze in a bit of time for myself… It was all too much to combine actually, but I didn’t actually have a choice,did I?? What I didn’t realise at the time is, that I was actually attacking my own health, it really was all too much for me to handle.
The psychologist made me realise that my ‘energy balance’ was completely out of control because I was constantly taking energy whilst not adding enough new energy.
So the first thing I had to do to become better is work on that energy balance. On the one hand I had to make sure that I allowed as few energy takers as possible and on the other hand I had to make sure that I did things that gave me energy.
I stayed at home from work for a couple of months and I also kept it very low key in my private life. I left things what they were for a while, I rested a lot and I also needed time on my own to do things I wanted to, when I wanted to without worrying about others. It felt very selfish, but I just knew I had to put myself into first place in order to heal.
Slowly I started going back into the right direction, I could start enjoying things again, I liked myself better again which made me more open to others… it’s all actually a vicious circle if you ask me!
It took me a while before I was completely ‘liberated’ from the feeling of having a burn-out. I can compare it with clouds. During my burn-out there were a lot of heavy, dark clouds hanging above me, constant showers of rain fell all over me… and I didn’t have an umbrella to protect me….
But I gave myself the time I needed, I slowly built up on my energy again. After a while, the air cleared up a bit and I was able to breathe more freely again. These days, there are still some white clouds passing by and occasionaly some rain falls out of them, but the difference now is that I have a solid umbrella to protect me as I have now enough energy to tackle the problems coming my way.
It is very normal that someone who has a burn-out needs to stay at home from work for a longer period of time. They have exhausted their reserves of energy for months and years, so it takes an immense amount of time before that jar of energy is filled up again.
I have experienced all this myself and I have learned to listen to myself and to the signals my body gives. I know that my ear remains a weak point for me. As soon as it gets too busy or when I experience stress, my ear starts to play up and for me that is like an alarm bell to slow down for a while, to leave things as they are and to put myself in first place.
So fortunately my story has a good ending. In hindsight I am ‘glad’ that I had that burn-out, because I now take better care of myself and I protect myself against the heavy influences of stress as I have learned to keep an eye on my energy level.
If you want to do the same, I’d advice you to follow these ‘Boost your energy’ blogposts. Next time I will tell you a bit more about how you can become aware of your energy level. See you soon!
PS: I actually started blogging the time I was healing from my burn-out. I wrote this honest post about my burn-out when.