When the global eco-crisis becomes personal….
it’s time to consider sustainability on a personal level
We hear a lot about stress and burnout in our developed world. Some of us believe it’s a “normal condition” of living for the progress we’ve striven hard to achieve. However as Krishnamurti so succinctly says:
“It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society”
If we burn ourselves and our physical environments/natural world, out in the process, then that ‘success’ of progress and achievement is really a pyrrhic victory.
Burnout is hugely prevalent within our developed world. Stress and burnout can easily present as anxiety like symptoms: heart palpitations or anxiety ‘attacks’, not be able to sleep and/or waking at 2 or 3am, forgetfulness and foggy brain, loss of enjoyment in those things that usually bring us happiness or joy (activities, work, family, relationships), not being able to eat and/or eating ‘crap’-the chips/lollies/craving carbs etc, low self esteem and confidence, lacking energy a lot of the time, needing alcohol or dope or prescription medication to sleep at night, a lack of purpose or feeling ‘what’s the point’ to life……these are all signs of burnout.
If you went to the Doctor with these symptoms, you’d probably be medicated for anxiety. So may people who come into my counselling room fit this picture. A third of the population are on anti-anxiety medication at any given time, and WHO identifies anxiety and depression as the epidemic of our developed world: we have a problem here.
However, if we look at your ‘symptoms’ as a barometer of health rather than an illness, then you can learn to look after yourself in ways that are sustainable and give you energy and a sense of purpose and enjoyment within your life. You can learn to build your health. We’re generally not taught how to do that in our modern world. The focus has predominantly been on using resources to achieve; whether those resources are ecological or human in nature. We haven’t been encouraged to care or nurture- or only to if it doesn’t get in the way of production and achievement. The burnout we’re seeing on our planet in mirrored and exacerbated by the burnout experienced by so many human beings, as they’re ‘resource-stripped’ in the pursuit of their material goals. Your body is a small planet. How are you doing?
If you are physically burnout, you’ll feel like shit. Your emotions will be deeply affected by your physical state. Good counselling and therapy needs to take into account your physical state/sustainability as well as your emotional and mental states/sustainability. These three realms of our experience work interdependently; you can learn to support yourself and to build your interconnected sustainability. Many people have never been given the opportunity to learnt how to do this in their lives. Yet we wouldn’t expect a garden to flourish and thrive and produce without informed attention and care, or for a car to run well without a regular service and good quality fuel.
If you are feeling some of the things I’ve listed above, it may be that you’re burnout out. It’s not too late for you to have energy and to enjoy your life. Get in touch.
“The Game Face”
Feelings often get a bad rap in our world. We’re not taught to understand our feelings, nor given skills to know what we can do when we feel angry or sad, hollow inside, scared or any of those other feelings.
So many people wear what one of my clients calls her “Game Face”-the social mask we all have which says “All good- nothing to see here”. Even sometimes when we’re distraught and feel dreadful inside, we’ll engage this mask when we meet others.
We’re fortunate if we have people in our life who we are able to let behind the mask; this is external support. Sometimes it’s a habit to always wear the mask and we don’t know how to let anyone behind it. That can increase our loneliness.
Sometimes, the most important thing that WE can learn to do, is to meet the parts of ourselves behind the mask, and learn how to support ourselves. This is internal support.
We have to learn and/or upskill how to mobilise our external and internal support systems in order to have good emotional health. Growth requires this.
In my 25 years of working, I’ve heard so many times: “Everyone’s got it together except me”. This is the game face we see when we’re out in the world: the mask we see in others. Everybody has troubles, challenging feelings, and situations they don’t know what to do about. You’re not losing it!!
I’m planning to do some workshops and talks in other parts if the country than Christchurch (where I’m based). If you’d like to register your interest for one; please contact me.
Also; LifeWorks Counselling is now on Facebook!