Making & Maintaining Life Changes

I’ve made a lot of changes in my life. Especially going through burnout recovery where changes became a need instead of a desire. But change is hard. (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

The mind doesn’t like change and breaking and creating habits takes work. At the height of my recovery, I mandated myself with doing almost nothing. My life consisted of – Sleep. Watch Netflix. Sleep. Crochet. Sleep. And this was necessary for about a month and half. This went against the grain of everything I “should” be doing during the day. But hitting bottom and faced with non-functioning exhaustion meant I had no choice.

I started the work of change and recovery. Mostly this was a lot of self-talk. My brain fought so hard against my rest and relaxation plan, I spent most of the first while just continuously giving myself permission to rest. It was a constant struggle between the two voices in my head. “You have stuff you should be doing!”… “You can’t handle that stuff right now, you need rest.”… and the battle raged at times. I had to force myself to let the R&R voice win. Because if I didn’t, I found myself back at square one for stress, overwhelm and exhaustion and that literally only took seconds.

Learning to listen to my body was key in making and maintaining the changes I needed to simplify my life. If I was exhausted at the thought of doing something, anything, I said no. This became one of my key measuring tools to note improvement in my condition. Early in recovery – everything was exhausting at the thought. Then slowly I could do one thing, then two and so on back and forth, until here I am a year and half later feeling pretty much fully recovered. I haven’t had to say no to something due to exhaustion for a while now. However, that doesn’t mean I say yes to everything.

Along the way I have learned moderation and listening to my body and mind. I need more down time, alone time, and rest. I need creative time. I had to restructure my week to accommodate a shorter to-do list, sometimes a shorter workday, and add in more time for play. I let go of the things that didn’t serve me. I focused on the things that brought joy to my inner being. Things that made me feel fulfilled. This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been a year and half and I’m still listening to my needs and adapting them. This is a life journey. There’s no rush, but there is a necessity for wellbeing. As a matter of fact, rushing the changes creates stress, as does moving too slowly when the recognition of a change is realized. Listening to the ebbs of flows of what we are capable of in the moment is a road map to recovery.

This included restructuring my business a few times as I figured out what I thought I wanted to do versus what made my heart sing. And realizing it was okay to let go of the things that I thought I should be doing, but weren’t serving me, thus, not allowing me to serve others in my true form. What makes my heart sing? Writing. Writing this blog is one of my favourite things.

Another important journey that I love is being true to myself and learning what that means. We are inundated with information from the outside that dictates how we should live, what we should be doing to be our best self, lists upon lists of stuff to add add add to our lives. STOP! I only add in what works for me in the simplest form.

My friend Elizabeth and I started a podcast, Destination Simple (streaming everywhere 😉) and our conversations about intentional living inspire me to live better and do better and fill my life with joyful things.

To recover from burnout, I went back to ground zero. I did nothing for about six weeks. I let everything go. I cleaned the slate. I fought my self-talk in a battle of wits until Rest had won. And then, as my recovery allowed, I added things back in. Slowly. Listening to the signals from my body and mind as to whether each thing was something I wanted back in. Or did I want new things? What were those things? Creativity for one. I’m a creative bug and my stress had driven the true creativity out of me, there was nothing left. When I started to feel creative again, I was so excited. Another sign that I was healing.

When you surround yourself with good people, activities you love, nourish your needs, listen and listen hard to your body and mind and then follow through with action that fills you up with goodness, you can change your life and maintain those changes because you are discovering your true self.  

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