People always ask you what you do, where you’re from, what you’re wearing, and who you’re seeing, but nobody ever asks you if you’re happy…
So, a couple of months ago I asked myself this before making a decision to quit my job. “Nat, are you happy?”. And I knew deep down, I wasn’t.
Let’s rewind a little bit so I can give you some context – I’ve quit two incredible jobs in the space of four months. Some would call me crazy, but what actually brought me to making this decision is a very common and real issue within our society we don’t always like to talk about… BURN OUT.
Everything always seems picture perfect until it isn’t right? Maybe the constant hustle and bustle of life is burning us out faster than ever? Maybe we can blame it on the constant pressure from our jobs? Or maybe, we’re too scared to stop, pause, slow down and do nothing until suddenly we feel everything.
Now serious #RealTalk… In the months leading up to me quitting my first job as a Global Social Media Manager, I was so overwhelmed and riding a constant wave of dissatisfaction. Tasks I used to love became increasingly difficult to do. My focus was completely off, I was uninspired by the repetition of my job and social media slowly killed my creativity, productivity, and drive. I took a mental note, accepted that I needed to take control of my own happiness and that I was nearing the end of my wonderful four-year career at Contiki.
So what happened next?
I moved to a growing tech start-up which had always been a dream of mine. I was so excited, eager to learn and optimistic about this new role. It was a step in the right direction, and the progression I had been longing for some time. But this feeling quickly changed too…
As time went by, I worked 12-14 hour days, every day. I checked Slack and emails religiously. I worked on weekends. I forgot the simple act of asking for help or guidance. And to be truthfully honest, this is where it all went wrong for me. I had placed zero barriers on myself and my work, becoming disillusioned by any concept of work, life and balance. Eventually, stress and imposter syndrome consumed me in such a short amount of time and led me to believing I needed to walk away. I can’t explain the feeling, but one day I just snapped and said to myself “You have got to do this for your health and well-being.”
Anyone that knows me well, knows I usually run at a 100 miles per hour but just like a car that needs oil to run, a human being needs energy to be able to function.
Now as I reflect over the last few months, I feel much more comfortable sharing this part of my journey because it hasn’t been an easy one. My mental and emotional exhaustion manifested so many mixed feelings. I felt confused, sad, regret, and anger all at the same time. Ironically, alongside the intensity of my emotions, I discovered a profound lightness I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Finally, acceptance and a guilt-free state of nothingness where I embraced rest and ‘me time’. The state of doing nothing my friends, is an art.
So, what exactly did I do the last few months to help turn my mindset around?
- Rest, sleep and a whole lot of doing nothing. I accepted my fatigue and took time out to rejuvenate
- Exercise. I took lots of walks and yoga weekly. I joined Classpass and started doing yoga once a week. It brought a lot of awareness to my shortcomings, one of which is my ability to stay focused and calm. This is something I will continue to work on as I have a long way to go.
- Meditation and music go hand in hand
- Re-wire the brain to stop negative thoughts. I have been using positive affirmations to remind myself of who I am and who I want to be
- Seek adventure and travel if you can. We all have our comforts but this one is huge for me. I did day-trips across the UK and planned the rest of my year out to do more travel around Europe
- Read lots of books
- Attend empowering networking events. Forworkingladies played a pivotal role in getting me out of my funk. I met so many inspiring ladies who are killing it in their fields and this injected some new and refreshing ideas.
As I look back, I know I’m on the right path. Giving myself a break and travelling with no real plans will allow me to bounce back healthier and stronger than ever.
And you know what? We’re only fucking human. So what we quit sometimes? So what we said no? We’ve got to own our sadness and shortcomings. We will spend 90,000 hours of our lives at work, so we better believe we deserve to be happy. We better believe that we deserve a time out every once in a while to restore our well-being. We do not have to commit to the responsibilities that are weighing us down. We’re not all designed to be superhumans 24/7, 365 days of the year. We are not built to just pay the bills and die.
We’re strong and resilient even in the face of our exhaustion.
We are conditioned to always bounce back.
We will be just fine.