When I was still working in corporate, Christmas holidays were the best. We would have invariably have been working like mad in the run-up to Christmas to meet our compliance deadlines, but every couple of years I would get to spend a proper ten days off on holiday.

The first three days would see me asleep to rest and recover from the run-up to Christmas.

But by day five I was in full planning mode.

Planning the shows or concerts I would go to when I got back, the sport I would do, the dancing classes, the food I would buy and the meals I would try.

All these things I was going to do differently. So I wouldn’t get into that same exhausted state again. So I would take time for myself.  Breathe.  Get some balance.

And I would go back to Luxembourg and go back to work excited by the possibility of it all.

Back to work

Back to real life.

And one week in, all the good plans and ideas had shot out the window and I was just as tired and stressed as I was before I went on holiday.

Because I hadn’t realised that to start to live differently, I had to actually do something different.  And it didn’t matter how much I planned or intended to do, unless I really believed I had the right to do these other things and not just work like a mad thing, nothing would actually change.

I only learned to do anything differently post burnout. Because I learned to take a step back and realize that all these new plans couldn’t amount to anything unless I freed up space for them.

No matter how much I tried I couldn’t just load these new things on top of everything else I had to do.

And I couldn’t change anything until I started looking at the whole picture.

But I learned.  And I now succeed in having that space and balance in my life.

And you can too.

If any of this sounds like where you are right now – a week back to work and already just as tired and busy as you were before the holidays – here are five things you can do to start to get back some headspace and control in your life.

  • Show yourself a bit of compassion – it’s ok that things are hectic, and it’s ok not to have everything sorted out perfectly in your life.
  • Remember, self care is not about “me, not you”, it’s about “me too”.  Taking time out for yourself allows you to be in the best possible shape to be there for everyone else too, and even a five-minute walk around the block can already be enough to start to take time out.
  • When you are feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done – start with small things that can be done in five minutes.  Done and finished – even if not work-related like putting the washing out to dry, or cleaning up the cat vomit from the carpet.  When you’re overwhelmed, just doing any one damn thing can get things moving.
  • Get realistic about the help that you need – be it emotional support from a listening ear, or logistical support from a cleaner or someone to do the shopping – and assemble your inner circle to help and provide that support.
  • Finally, remember that “no” can be a complete sentence.  Before you start thinking about the technical semantics of that statement, please know that my point here is a question of permission – giving yourself permission to say no when you might otherwise have said yes just to keep everyone happy.  When you are comfortable that you have the right to do so, actually doing it can become so much easier.

If you would like to take this further, and actually sit down and think about what you need to do for your own situation, I would love to talk.  Check out details of my Burnout Buster Coaching Package (two coaching sessions designed to help you get some headspace and light back in your life) here.