Body was telling me to stop, but I wasn’t listening.
The last two years have been incredible in the #physed world, I have been non stop, so motivated and so inspired. I’ve presented around Australia and recently in Dubai, I felt like nothing could stop me and I could do this all day and every day. I was creating, networking and taking part in group chats to ensure I didn’t miss a thing! I was on fire!
On the 1st of November 2017, I hit a wall and it was a dark brick wall. I was mentally, emotionally and physically cooked from what I do. I realised that day I didn’t have any work life balance, yes I go for runs, go to the gym and meet up with friends, but my mind never switched off from what I love doing and that is educating. I would be on my computer straight after work, whether it would be reflecting, creating resources, chatting or emailing I would always find an excuse to do work.
I wasn’t sleeping properly because my mind wouldn’t switch off, I would send myself emails at 2-3am to remind myself things, it was crazy. I would sometimes have 3-4 hours sleep and go into a demanding work industry, how did I do it? I’m not sure! I would have bags under my eyes and struggled to get out of bed, not because I didn’t want to go to work, but because I was exhausted. However when I was ready to go, I felt good, I was just ignoring the warning signs.
But was this healthy for me? Absolutely not I felt horrible and overwhelmed at the same time when I crashed, like I said to Andy Hair, I felt like I cheated on something or someone, I felt empty. I didn’t know what to do because working 7 days a week, not only with my full time job, but also with the other things that I do on the side was like a routine for me.
The thing is, I didn’t see a decrease in my work leading to this breaking point, I saw an increase, but it finally took it’s toll and my body was going into shut down mode. I took a few days for me to listen to my mind and body and to reassess how to manage, or should I say how to get a work life balance happening for me. So I did. Speaking with various people, friends and professions to support me to manage the difficult time I was facing.
First thing first, I needed to switch off after work hours, this for me was very hard to do, it was like my body went into shock mode. Day by day, I am learning more in managing this and how it will benefit me and my students. I seeked advice from Neila Steele which I met in Dubai from ConnectedPE conference, who is an educator and is well knowledge with mindfulness, breathing techniques. She supported me with advice and with helpful podcasts. After a certain, I now switch my computer and emails off (still getting use to this!). I recently downloaded The Resilience Project app to complete a 21 day mindfulness challenge and to note down my feelings, my gratitudes, exercise and much more. But of course, increased my physical activity, they always say, exercise is the best medicine.
I’m not ashamed for burning out, I’m not looking for sympathy through this blog, I’m simply saying that I learnt the hard way on how important it is to listen to your body. I thought I did, but I was sweeping my emotions and tiredness under the carpet. Will this breaking point stop me from what I love doing? Absolutely not, however it’s taught me and it’s still teaching me to put myself first, if I’m not right, my students won’t benefit from me and so won’t my followers through social media.
I’ve seen and heard so many educators that burn out, I just thought it would never happen to me. Such a hard, yet rewarding career, but I would never give up.
My advice is listen to your mind and body, work will be there, yes it’s taking me some time to adjust and to learn. I know in the long run this will benefit me as an educator and as a human, to make a difference towards my students and to other learners.
I look forward to continuing to inspire, to learn and to make a difference.
Keep inspiring others and chat soon.
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