The suffering that is invisible hurts the most. Nobody likes to share their emotional baggage.
- Laïla Maftah Sbai -
Once I could be honest with myself things could finally change...
I was a perfect burnout candidate; I realize that now. Always trying to do the right thing, committed to supporting others, with a great sense of responsibility and the ability to persevere. I strived to combine perfectly the role of caring mother and partner, with getting ahead professionally. I sought out opportunities, even abroad, and my beautiful qualities helped me. After a career switch from nurse to project assistant with a multinational I worked my way up within different companies. As change manager, my day-goal was to support employees during organisational change and with the uncertainty and stress that this brings along. In the evenings, I spent three years studying to become a health coach.
I thought that I could handle my busy life and I was proud of what I achieved, working hard, even when I was tired. But gradually I started to run out of energy and getting through the day became a real struggle. The burnout did not creep up on me, it announced itself well in advance. I was constantly tired and had trouble concentrating. I woke up at night regularly, worrying about everything I had to take care of. I hated what was going on with me, but I felt obliged to keep going! I worked at night and during the weekend and the harder I pushed myself the more warning signals my body issued. Then it finally dawned on me that my body was screaming, “Stop!"
The moment had come to change how I was going about my life.
Luckily I knew a great coach who helped me discover what I needed. Rest, of course, but first and foremost the courage to say: "I can't take this anymore!" This was the beginning of a confronting, but also deeply enriching period of learning to listen to my body, to take a break when I need it and understanding how I could have ignored my needs for so long. I was able to admit that I was in urgent need of a "time-out" from everything and everyone. Several months into my sick-leave, I left for the Camino de Santiago. This 800 km hike was a unique opportunity for me to reconnect with myself. Tired? Time for a break. Hungry? Time to eat. Annoying company? Time for our ways to part! They seem obvious principles, but to me they were not.
Once back home, I started an intense three year training to become an Inner Child Coach and certify as a Voice Dialogue Facilitator. This was a wonderful gift for myself. I learned how, as adults, we can deal with the unconsciously held beliefs that we developed as a child, such as having to be strong and keep going even when it’s tough!
If I could travel through time, I would share what I know with my younger self.
Being confronted with a burnout thoroughly shook up my life. But I am grateful for the lessons I learned. I have learned to study my feelings and my discomfort, to consider what would do me good and to take care of it myself. I don't have a carefree life, I work hard, still get tired, feel pain, become upset or unhappy, but I sense more easily when I'm not OK and what I need. I meditate, do yoga, cycle, swim, go outside (not all at once of course!) and I notice the difference when I don't. I can still get lost in mental work or get caught up in doing things for someone else that I don't enjoy myself, but more often I put myself first and do what I want. Quiet time alone, for example, is incredibly important to me. I don't need to be bouncing around in a good mood and energetic all the time. And sometimes I choose to ignore what I know. Then I struggle to regain my energy and that’s OK. I don't have to be progressing on something all the time and paradoxically, my life is progressing. I can laugh again and be more spontaneous. I like myself better and I'm doing the job I've always dreamt of!
If I could travel through time I would share what I know now with my younger self, but I can't. I'm sharing my story here because I believe that being honest about our challenges and problems helps us all get better. No one should be ashamed of asking for help to live a healthy and happy life.
MY VISION ON BURNOUT PREVENTION: REST WHEN NEEDED!
You don't suddenly have a burnout. It is the result of consistently ignoring your need to rest and recover and it announces itself months, sometimes years in advance through the physical and psychological symptoms of stress in your body. It's easy to avoid! Rest when you need to. But this doesn't seem possible when you are working hard to be at your best or you fear being seen as boring, lazy or not good enough for the job. Then you could do with support in making the right choice!
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ME
I am at my best with clients who are ready to question their priorities and take responsibility for their choices. Having worked in healthcare and business I have seen first hand the consequences of not getting the balancing act between pushing forward and slowing down right. I had to learn the hard way that stubbornly sticking to the way things are, hoping that something will change or complaining about someone else, never leads to the desired change. The situations in which I find myself are the result of choices I consciously or unconsciously make or don’t make myself. That's why I won't hesitate to ask astute questions that help my clients make the choices that are right for them.
THIS IS TYPICAL ELEANOR
As a third generation nurse, caring is in my DNA.
Despite my English origins, you will never see me put milk in my tea.
As a proud perfectionist, I am a fan of German thoroughness.
After 25 years in Belgium you still can’t tempt me to steak and fries. I prefer a large bowl of pasta with pesto.
My favourite kitchen appliance: the juicer.
My two cats lead by example: they are perfectly capable of combining a healthy portion "let me be!" with selfless care for each other.
Looking for purpose isn't fluffy. It's about what we’re doing here and how to lead a meaningful life. It is the foundation of our health and wellbeing, it’s where my motivation lies, it’s what I talk about passionately!
My favorite animal totem is the dragonfly: it symbolizes transformation and flexibility and invites us to look at deeper emotions.
I DISCOVERED THE ORIGINS FOR MY WORK HERE
voice dialogue, transactional analysis - inner child work, health coaching,
radical collaboration‚ positive psychology, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, compassionate communication, heart IQ, the chakra system, appreciative inquiry, nlp, trauma work, energetic bodywork and more…
I'm a qualified nurse and certified health coach,
member of the Flemish Association for Health Coaches
'Vlaamse Vereniging voor Gezondheidscoaches - VVGC'
Registration nummer: 19-04-03-117