Sydney-based lifestyle consultant and psychotherapist Sarah Tottle chats to Bondi Beauty on ways to deal with stress when you’re living in a busy city.
Stress management is so important for high-octane women (and men) and Sarah knows all too well from personal experience, how this can impact you mental and physical health.
“I’d always been one of those super achiever types, flitting from one goal to the next, barely taking a breath and not really lifting my head up to enjoy my successes. This is the norm for a high-octane woman; an energetic go-getter racing from one project to the next.
However, in 2015, my London lifestyle caught up with me. I was working at a mental health charity at the time, putting in long hours whilst studying my doctoral degree, and just being that all-round superwoman who could never say no. Overworked and overstressed, my body simply gave up. These were the beginning signs of burnout- ironic, because, that was also the topic of my doctoral research.
There’s a lot of pressure on women to be it all and have it all. Often this extrinsic pressure comes at the expense of our personal wellness. We must be seen to be doing- to have it all and be it all. There can be a lot of guilt for simply taking time out for ourselves.
Take our phones, for instance. We have them next to us- and if you’re anything like me- beeping on our wrists through our smart watch devices, that we rarely, if ever, have time to ourselves. We are a generation that needs to show up. The guilt we feel can weigh us down and we often don’t get the time just to be.”
Sarah says it’s important to set up boundaries to protect both your physical and your mental health.
“Boundaries is an overused, and often misused word, but it’s something we all need to think about.
Many of the women who seek out coaching and psychotherapy are on the brink of burnout because of a lack of boundaries. They simply haven’t learned how to say no. Interestingly, part of this is due to the current discourse surrounding women.
The need to be the all-round super-achiever in every aspect of life. To be the friend who’s always there. To work overtime. To be the mum that’s always pristine. And there’s nothing wrong with striving for those things, but if you’re on the brink of burnout and feel the need to slow down, it’s time to step back and evaluate.
Are the things that you’re doing making you happy? Is there any joy left in what you’re doing? If you’re no longer feeling those things, this can be a signal just to stop. Often, we carry on doing things we no longer love, simply because we’re worried about what others may think. It’s the external pressure that’s holding us back. Nothing else.”
Sarah also believes by creating a certain system of values and boundaries to both be there for who need to be, but also to be there for yourself, you can protect yourself from long-term damage.
It’s important to set our own personal values in life. Values come from our belief system; how we see the world. Values are subjective, they are defined by us. They impact how we see the world; how we live; and the choices we make. It is imperative we set our own values; values that align with our own authentic self, so that we live a life that is truly meaningful to us.
“Our value system impacts on us in a number of ways. Firstly, it helps form our definition of success, or what success will look like to us, rather than what others have prescribed it as. It also helps forge our personal boundaries; what we will stand for and tolerate in life.
When we form our values based on other people’s views, we potentially thwart our personal success. Challenging socially prescribed beliefs mean we are less likely to follow the status quo, and follow our own path in life instead. Let your own personal values and beliefs govern your choices. This means our own authentic self will not be hindered by following socially prescribed norms.
Many fall into depression, or the classic midlife crisis, later on in life when they do not challenge the status quo, essentially meaning that their life was a road map marked out by someone else. We are in an era where we do not need to follow social norms, we can mark out our own path instead. And we certainly need to do this as this is one of the ways that protects us from burning out. If we’re passionate about what we are doing and how we are living then we are less likely to become stressed. Perceived lack of autonomy is one of the major causes of stress, after all.
Being clear on your personal boundaries can also be an enlightening experience for others too. Perhaps in the case of the tardy friend, for example, they did not realise what effect they were having on you. They may possibly have needed to re-evaluate their time-management too.
By pointing it out to them, it shows that you will not accept the lack of respect in future, but also challenges them to take ownership of their behaviour too. Whatever the reason, setting clear boundaries can be a good for everyone involved.
In essence, beginning to say yes and no in life is the beginning of taking responsibility. We take ownership of our choices, making us accountable for the decisions that we make. When we are firm in what we tolerate, we gain respect from others. But, more importantly, we begin to respect ourselves. This is one way high-octane women can prevent ourselves from burning out.”
Sarah Tottle is a Sydney based lifestyle consultant with an interest in health and wellness. She is a qualified psychotherapist, personal trainer and positive psychologist, and is currently training as a barre instructor.
Sarah is a Lorna Jane Active brand ambassador, promoting healthy, positive lifestyle choices to individuals and groups. You can contact her through her website at www.sarahtottle.com and follow her on instagram @sarah_tottle
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