This article originally appeared in canfitpro magazine Jan/Feb 2018 edition
Too often my clients are coming to me suffering from high burnout. Trying to take on too much, to be everything to everyone, to be at the top of their game every day. Well sure these are great things to have on your list of goals but without a proper self-care routine to help you balance out all you give, you will be giving from an empty cup, otherwise known as that all too familiar word: burnout.
Burnout affects everyone. I find in this industry it’s an all too common theme. We work very odd hours (especially when we are first starting out) we have challenges fitting in our own workouts, or if teaching group classes we are often working out too much, we take on the stress from our clients and have our own continual life stress of trying to hold it all together. Burnout shows it’s face in many ways from irritability, mild to moderate depression, feeling stuck, lethargic and possible insomnia, poor digestion or a general feeling of disconnection.
Self-care isn’t selfish. Self-care is one of the most unselfish things that you can do. By taking care of yourself and filling your own cup, you have more to give. When you try to give from a space of depletion you will only feel resentful. The life you’ve built around doing what you love becomes a hollow space leaving you confused and more stressed. If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m speaking from personal experience – a few times around this circle.
So where to begin? One thing we talk about in Yoga is the balance between prakriti (nature or self) and purusha (true Self) and by understanding our nature we feel more connected to ourselves. So how do we understand our nature? There are a few ways.
- Ayurvedic Dosha Test
You can search any test on the internet and get the same results. Basically according to ayurvedic science everything is comprised by three different doshas: pitta, vata or kapha and based upon which dosha we are more affiliated to our likes and dislikes are determined. This also helps personalize our needs around self-care.
Pitta, is represented by a fiery nature. Those that are strong pitta are highly energetic people, have a lot on the go and generally feel happiest when pushed to the edge a little bit. The challenge here is maintaining the balance on the edge, as all too quickly the fires rage out of control and anger and resentment set in. Without enough to do, pitta feels useless. For someone with high pitta, maintaining a daily exercise routine (without over doing it) is key. Taking walks in nature or spending time near water has a calming effect on the pitta fire. As like attracts like, cuddled up by a warm fire also helps settle the nerves for our pitta friends.
Vata, is represented by the element of air. Those high in vata are our highly creative friends that spend a lot of time lost in their heads. The danger here is a lack of grounded energy and overthinking leading into a negative spiral. Practicing mindfulness through grounding exercises helps vata tremendously. As vata’s tend to be cold, a regular hot yoga practice may be helpful particularly in winter. Hot baths and sitting by the fire are also very soothing.
Kapha, is the earth element. Those high in kapha love to be at home. They are the nurturers, taking care of the family, always there to help others. They are steadfast and true. The dangers of high kapha is struggling to put themselves first. They also need a higher motivation to get moving as rest time is always more attractive to them then moving. A regular exercise routine that builds in intensity such as yoga or weight training is very helpful. Getting outside for fresh air and going to new places also help counter kapha energy. However, everything in moderation as kapha’s need a lot of mental downtime to off-set energetic output.
Yep, I’m saying it again. A daily meditation practice is paramount for every single person out there hustling and bustling. The more you think that you don’t need to meditate, the more I promise you, you need to. With meditation, it’s all about finding the hook. Of having that one experience in meditation where it all comes together and you finally feel it. You find that sensory impression in mind and body where it all comes together. In Yoga, we call this dhyana the meditative mind. With a regular meditation practice you will have better clarity of mind, feel more in control of your emotions and make better decisions. In essence, you will stop sweating the small stuff and be more objective around the big stuff.
Meditation helps you feel more connected to you, or in other words connected to Self or our light within, that which never changes. It is said we become so lost by our prakriti (nature) the world around us, how we look, what we have, what we are doing that we forget that the light exists. It is this misunderstanding that leads to disconnection and eventually burn out. Stop the cycle now by creating more time for you by simply just being. Whether you sit in silence, listen to meditation music, follow a guided meditation through YouTube or even a quiet walk in nature, there are many ways to practice meditation. Follow your heart and see what happens.
- Make a Happy List
One of my favourites – write down all the things that you love to do just for you, and do one thing from that list every single day. This is highly personal and does absolute wonders to fill your heart and refresh your soul. The only rules are that it is something that you love, that it’s done in moderation and that it fills you up rather than depletes you – even if you need to rest a little after. A long run, watching the waves, long talks with good friends, cuddles with your fur babies, cooking, bubble baths, reading, a glass of wine, watching a favourite movie… the list is literally endless. The funny thing is, we often forget or take for granted that we will get around to those things eventually. Don’t wait for happiness to find you – go get it. Make it a priority! That is self-care at work.
Yes, there are a million things to do and only so many hours in the day, but I promise you it will all catch up to you eventually if you aren’t practicing self-care every day. These are just a few suggestions, there are so many things you can do. The bottom line is you can’t give from an empty cup. Fill yourself up, and everything will fall into place.