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Burnout and beyond

I was recommended this book by a counsellor in 2011. I hadn’t had my burnout at that point, but I guess to a professional it must have been visible on the horizon.

I had had a few difficult and very demanding years - I became a mother, lived through the financial difficulties associated with the double whammy of maternity leave and the 2008 financial crash, chased a promotion through a gruelling commute from Manchester to London for over two years, breaking my heart each time as I left my beautiful baby girl at home, and traded one dysfunctional relationship for another.

The pressures were squeezing the life out of me. I was too thin, too drawn, existing on coffee and adrenaline, just trying to survive each day and make things right.

And I did try. I got counselling, I did yoga, I went to the gym, tried hard to create a good, harmonious home - but there was just too much stress. I resigned from my job because I couldn’t take the pain of being away from my girl any longer. I thought about a change of career then took a contract for a similarly consuming role instead.

I remember the feeling of sinking, feeling like life was draining out of me - and the helplessness. Like I was on a carousel and I couldn’t get off the ride. The stressors were too numerous and too overwhelmingly powerful.

And then it happened. One day in 2013, my body, weakened by years of stress, couldn’t fight anymore. A case of nasty viral pneumonia took me to the brink, landing me in hospital for weeks - the darkest weeks of my life. I was terrified of not being able to pull through for my little girl, as my doctors became increasingly puzzled and helpless as to how to cure me.

Somehow, I did turn a corner - somehow my poor, battered body found a way. I started to get better but it was a very long, very slow process. The first year after coming out of hospital was very difficult. At first, I barely had the strength to stand up, much less to function. I spent the year looking for different ways to heal and rebuild my strength. Some worked, some didn’t. After nine months I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, which in a way was a relief (there was a way to explain what I was going through, while before I thought I was losing my mind), but it was also a kind of death, admitting that this was something I would probably live with for the rest of my life. The old me was gone.

I still sometimes mourn the old me. My superpowers of sheer force of will and strength. But as things are, a new me started to form in these years. Unfortunately, the stressors didn’t disappear, but gradually I learned to navigate them better. I learned that I had to take care of myself - I had no other choice. And a new kind of strength began to grow: one based on acceptance, on kindness and softness.

By some lucky coincidence (I’m now happily classing this as a miracle), I came upon yoga practices by Strala, as part of my efforts to heal. I had been trying and practising different types of yoga for years, but Strala spoke directly to me. Right place, right time. The Strala way is one of natural ease and soft, effortless movement, centred around the experience of the practitioner. I am not exaggerating when I say, this was the first time in my life I felt like I was given permission to be accepting of myself.

This changed everything.

Out of the metaphorical ashes of my old life, I gradually built a new one. It took time and to be honest, I am building it still - and hoping never to stop building. This one is based on the core principles of acceptance, love, kindness, softness, ease and connection. Learning to be this way has healed me, in every imaginable way. Physically, mentally and in my heart.

Like many other yoga teachers, I felt inspired to share this practice with others, having experienced how powerful and healing it is. It is what I aim to do when I lead others in their practice and what has given me more purpose and joy than I ever could have imagined.

I hope to help others the way I’ve been helped.

I hope to help others avoid burnout before it happens. And recover from it where it already has.

Awareness is everything and it’s the knowledge and understanding of lifestyle factors that can mean a world of difference to us. By choosing to make time for us, to slow down, find ways to connect, we are doing so much more than ‘just’ a yoga class. We are investing in our health and well-being and creating healthier, better connections with our loved ones and the world in a larger sense.

When I say ‘take care of you today,’ I mean it. Today and every day, take time to connect with you, accepting and loving the real you, just as you are. Great things happen from here.

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