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From burnout to balance: A reader’s new start

Maybe you can help me?

A couple of weeks ago, on an otherwise ordinary Thursday morning, I found myself in a counsellor’s office, completing a burnout assessment. I was supposed to be running a busy department at the South Auckland school where I teach, but I’d had weeks off work by then.

You might have heard about the Auckland teacher shortage. It’s happening, and it’s left me understaffed, frustrated and unable to cope. The assessment confirmed my own feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and decision fatigue: I had burned out. I actually wanted to quit. My doctor reminded me of my tendencies towards depression, anxiety and inflammatory bowel disease (all of which get worse when I’m under pressure), and told me to either look for a new career or find my way back from burnout to balance.

People, like my doctor, are always telling people like me to look after ourselves a bit more. I smile, nod and resolve to do things differently. Then, I go a whole day without stopping for any kind of break: not eating, drinking or going to the toilet. In my defence, not eating or drinking anything that day meant I didn’t really need to go to the toilet. At the time, I thought it was kind of win-win.

On one level, I know that I need to do things differently. Although I’ve understood that for a long time, I haven’t carried through. But if I can’t make this work now, I might not actually be able to work at all.

So, I want to make a deal with you. I need someone like you to hold me accountable. Instead of just leafing through the advice in last month’s Healthy Food Guide supplement on mental wellness and resilience, I want to try out one idea every month and report back to you. I get accountability, and you get a guinea pig who will let you know what worked for her, and what might work for you.

There is something about me that makes me a bit more susceptible to burnout than most people, but I know that many of us are looking for ways to deal with what American author Brigid Schulte calls ‘the overwhelm’ of everyday life.

I think that this is the perfect time to start this project, with winter’s longest night just behind us, and the fresh new stars of Matariki (Maori New Year) twinkling above us.
With that in mind, I’m hoping to make a new start, and I’d love your help.

*Lynne Glen is a guest blogger and reader of Healthy Food Guide. She has taken up the challenge to use the mental well-being and resilience advice from the July 2017 issue and write about her progress.

Read more of her pieces here:

First published: Jul 2017



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