Öland. That’s where I grew up. And it’s the place I keep running back to, approximately 500 km away from Stockholm where I live and work for 10 years + back no. And that’s where I am now. Had no choice, I was spiraling.
After 11 months of being on sick leave, going to doctors, phycologists, and a 3-month long stress rehab program, I was finally ready to go back at 25%. That translates to 8 hours a week. During my 5 week stay during the summer – at Öland – I laugh at this small amount of work. I actually almost felt fully recovered. But being on a beautiful island during its peak season with great weather and around family and friends, is a whole different thing than being in a place where your want to excel and make an impact.
That means a whole lot of self-evaluation and putting tons of pressure on yourself. Not only because this is how my (your?) mind works – but getting back to a work environment where you didn’t know better, triggers a lot of previous destructive and stressful behaviors from pre-burnout. You see, the idea was also that I should know better by now. Since this is so much what I’ve come to understand and learn during this burnout year, that I need to be kinder to myself and that other peoples opinions, or rather my idea what people might think of me, is going to be my death if I don’t change it. But theory is one thing, and getting out there and really expose yourself to it, is a whole different one. It’s tough, demanding, a pain in the ass, yet fully necessary to actually grow past it.
Having increased my awareness level, listening and observing how my body reacts to different scenarios and my own thought patterns and self-talk, has been fascinating experience. It’s been vital so that I then have been able to accept what and how I’m doing things wrong, to then go on and take responsibility and change things for real.
The first two weeks when I started working, all the social interactions with colleagues and bosses drained my energy levels in minutes. I was blasted. After some analysis and awareness observation, I realized that I cared sooo much that everything I said had to be funny, charismatic, come off as intelligent, quick and snappy – all that to make a great impression. It was work, and I was an environment I’ve always associated with being as perfect as perfect can be. And that’s HUGE part of why I burned out. It’s not all, but it’s huge. I have a value that sais – when it comes to work, you give it your best in all situations.
But that’s a belief that isn’t doable for me right now. 90% is good enough, or even much less now when I’m rehabilitating. Having too high standards, also means that you go back and analyze everything you did wrong in order to improve till next time. This also may create some anxiety and stress in itself, except for the energy-demanding process of just analyzing. I HAD to change this – for my survival.
So over the weeks that followed I gradually shifted over to a more sound belief – being yourself and talk to people because it’s nice and/or if something work-related needs to be said, is all you have to do. My energy expenditure needs to be prioritized towards inner wellbeing and what’s really important right now.
And lo and behold, things changed and going to work started to feel much better and enjoyable. THIS IS THE POWER OF AWARENESS – IDENTIFYING BELIEVES THAT LEADS TO REPEATED ENERGY DRAINING ACTIONS, AND THEN DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Overlooking and implementing new improved values & believes that dictates your decision-making filter and repeated thought pattern, is a slow and tidy process that it will be tremendously tough. But it’s vital to make some real change to not burnout again. Because even if you recovered and feel fit for action again, you probably got to that place due to some internal shit. If you burned out due to too much work preasure, you either sucked at comunicating that it wasn’t doable, or you told yourself you could do it (I’m sure there’s more options, but you get the idea). Either way – faulty believes got you there.
I know this is a simplification of a complicated topic, yet it’s not. Start digging, a bit at the time, and introspection and realizing where you got your shit from in the first place is a good start. Values and beliefs are often gifted from our parents, and even though you believed so when you were a kid – they ain’t perfect.
I started this post out by telling you about Öland, the place I grew up. Because I’m here now, doing some much-needed resting. You see the last couple of weeks I’ve been blasted. Braindead and have felt how things have gotten worse again. New challenges at work with some ACTUAL tasks, in contrast to the playing around I got to do the first weeks. Although getting used to showing up at work and talking to people was plenty enough back then.
And changing believes is in itself a VERY energy-demanding process – reinventing yourself as a human being. It’s tough, yet it’s also funny and exciting. You slowly and gradually improve and even tough it may feel more frustrating and then satisfying being exhausted most of the time. In the long run, this is work you’ll be eternally grateful you took the time to do. Your upgrading to a stronger and more mentally fit person going way past your old self.. At least that’s the outcome I’m certain of reaching, and I’ve got some gratying payof already.
Next week I’m going up in time to 50%. We’ll see how that will turn out!
Keep at it!