I recently had to heal from burnout – here is my story.
During the last 15 years, I’ve started 7 businesses, wrote 2 ebooks, spoke at more than 10 conferences, participated in more than 100 webinars, online trainings, telesummits & podcast interviews, traveled to many beautiful places, had 3 children, moved 9 times, bought 3 homes and sold 2 of them, met a ton of amazing entrepreneurs, attended masterminds, built a team, wrote more than 200 blog posts, sent more than 1,200 emails to my community, created and launched 6 online courses, helped more than 1,000 entrepreneurs get their products featured in the media, amassed a social media following of more 50,000 people and built an online community of more than 30,000!
I also got divorced, got really sick from mold toxicity, lost almost everything, moved again twice, became a single mom, started dating and had my heart broken a few times, launched another business, started another podcast, bought and sold another house, joined a few MLM’s, lost some friends, made some new ones and realized that “control” is an illusion.
Wow, not to toot my own horn, but I accomplished A LOT during this time! However, during my journey these past 15 years, there is one day that I will never forget!
I was in the middle of launching one of my online courses and I remember one day so clearly. I was at a business mastermind in Denver, a day after I had met with two entrepreneur friends to mastermind at the Four Seasons and two days after I went to another mastermind, also in Denver. I was in full mastermind mode and this was my third event in Denver that week.
Halfway through the third mastermind, I started to feel “off” and like something bad was about to happen to me.
At first, I tried to ignore it. I thought that if I didn’t pay attention to it, it would just go away on its own. I started talking to the woman next to me, who had come all the way from Nova Scotia to be there. She was an interesting woman – a former nun who was now a business owner and who just arrived from a month-long silent meditation retreat. Her story was so interesting and I wanted to hear more about it, while at the same time trying to ignore this “off” feeling that I was experiencing.
The more I tried to ignore it, the stronger it got. It was almost like someone saying, “You’re trying to ignore me, but it’s not going to work. You’re really good at ignoring things and marching on, but this time something is about to change and your ability to ignore things is no longer an option.”
At one point I felt so bad that I thought I was going to pass out. I excused myself, left the mastermind and got in my car with the intent to go home and just relax, hoping that this, too, shall pass. I barely remember the 70 mile drive back home, but I do remember calling my husband at the time and asking him to come pick me up because I didn’t feel like it was safe for me to drive anymore. He hurried to come get me, brought me home and neither of us knew what was happening to me.
I couldn’t quite explain what I was feeling – I just knew that I had a hard time focusing, my vision was blurry and I was panicked and exhausted. I spent the rest of that day relaxing on the couch, hoping that it will all pass and things will return to normal the next morning.
The next morning came and I felt a milder version of what I had felt the day before, but I was nowhere near feeling like my old energetic, bold, and “full of life” self. I immediately thought about going to my holistic doctor to get some tests done to try to figure out what was “wrong” with me. Something was off and I was determined to figure it out, fix it and get on with my life. I was really good at fixing things and moving on…
The next few weeks I spent either resting on the couch or going to doctor appointments, doing blood work, saliva testing, DNA testing, and every type of test you can imagine and trying to figure all of this out.
A few weeks turned into a month, a month turned into three, three into six, six into a year and then finally I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I had all the symptoms and, according to the experts, I was in Stage 4 of adrenal fatigue. If you know anything about that, Stage 4 is pretty severe and it takes about two years or more to recover.
I spent a whole year on my couch resting – I couldn’t work, I couldn’t take my kids to school, I couldn’t shop for food, do yoga or go out on my daily walks… The couch became my best friend and, once in a while, I would turn on my computer to try to work, but five minutes into it I was dizzy and exhausted and had to lay down again.
It was THAT bad!
It felt like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from. Every morning I thought, “OK, today is a new day. Today I am going to get my life back and get right back on track and pick up where I left off. TODAY is going to be the day that I feel normal again.”
But my body had other plans. And it was not at all in agreement with my mind.
My body wanted to rest, to recover, to be nourished, to just lay there and not think about work, not think about cooking, not think about walking… not think about ANYTHING at all.
Some people around me said that I looked “fine” and told me to just “snap out of it” and that it was all in my head. They told me that I needed to “push through it” and not give into it and just rise above it. If you know anything about adrenal fatigue, you know that asking someone to push through it is asking them to do the impossible. When your body literally can’t move and when you stand up and it feels like all you want to do is lay down, there’s not much you can push through, no matter how motivated you are! And I am one very motivated woman!
Most people, however, were very compassionate and understanding and offered to help, share resources and told me I could count on them for anything. To those true friends, online and offline, THANK YOU!
Needless to say, that year was a very transformative year for me and it continues to be so today.
As I was on my healing path, I would often hear people say, “There’s a lesson in the pain,” but I just never got it or understood what they meant by that.
Until I started to really get it and something finally clicked.
Have you experienced anything similar to this?
Today I want to share with you 10 things that I did to heal from burnout and some very life-changing lessons that I learned along the way. I know there other entrepreneurs who have experienced similar things, but I’ve noticed that no one really talks about it. As leaders and influencers (a role that I had no idea I would be taking on), we have to put up a front and show our strength because we have “followers,” “fans,” and people who are convinced that we can do it all.
Doing it all is possible, but only for a limited time and not without paying a price, whether it’s your health, your relationships, your business or something else. For me, I lasted 10 years going all out, giving it my best and ignoring all the signs that were there. My body knew that I was doing too much – that it’s impossible for any human being to do so much – without any serious consequences. But I pushed through it and I persevered – until I completely crashed!
Here are ten things I did to heal from entrepreneurial (and life) burnout
1. Said “NO”
The first thing I had to do was to say “NO” to everything. And I mean literally everything. Every podcast interview request, every speaking engagement request, EVERYTHING! I even said no to the Steve Harvey Show, to a request to be a keynote speaker, to partnerships, to more money, to friends asking to hang out, to visiting family, to vacations… I passed up over $500,000 in revenue and it was not easy! I said NO to it all.
Sometimes I felt relieved, sometimes I felt sad, other times I felt like I was drowning and would never come back up for air. I stopped checking my email for a few weeks because I felt like I was missing out on so many opportunities and I was so tired of saying NO. I probably lost some friends along the way (and I’m deeply sorry for that if you are one of those friends), but I couldn’t possibly say yes to anything at that point.
2. Said “YES”
When this all happened I had a few people who were helping me with my business, but I was doing most of the work and basically running everything. It took me a few months to realize that I could no longer assume that role, but I still wanted to keep my business going. I hired a writer, another virtual assistant and a PR assistant who ran my business.
I had to let go and trust that they were going to do their best to keep this business going without a hitch. They did and I am so grateful for that. My assistant still runs most of the business now and I couldn’t be happier and more grateful.
I also hired someone to clean my house. She’s still with me today and investing in her was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I started working with a life coach, a therapist, an intuitive guide and a nutritionist. I felt like I needed support and I did not want to go through this alone. I said YES to pre-made meals from companies like Daily Harvest and Eat to Evolve, even though I love to cook. I said YES to everything that was saving me time and energy and it felt weird at first, but then that became my new normal.
3. Educated myself
At first, I spent hours on the internet trying to figure out what I could do to “fix” myself. This was the first time in my life that I was “sick” and the first time that I could not figure out how to fix things. In the beginning, I was exciting and I felt like I was in charge of my health, but after a few months, this became so overwhelming – there was so much conflicting information.
For every website that said to take licorice for adrenal fatigue, there was another website that said licorice is bad because it raises cortisol levels. One website said that I need to avoid animal protein and go all raw, another said that I need to eat meat and avoid all raw foods because those are harder on your digestion. One website said that I need to detox with infrared saunas, another said that I need to avoid infrared saunas at all costs. And on and on… I wasn’t sure what to believe anymore and who was right.
Needless to say, I became really overwhelmed and confused. I took a lot of breaks from researching and reading and information overload. Through all the noise, I did find some very helpful books that I highly recommend: How to Heal Yourself When No One Else Can by Amy B. Scher, Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal and Life Changing Foods by Anthony William, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks.
4. Started using essential oils and natural remedies
I had been reading about essential oils throughout my research, but I was hesitant to try them because I didn’t really know how to use them. I finally decided to jump all in and joined an essential oils MLM company and purchased my essential oils starter kit. I felt a difference as soon as I started using the essential oils and, within a few months, I began to explore more blends and other essential oil companies. Two of my favorites are Vibrant Blue Oils and Eden’s Garden.
I now use essential oils for everything, including better sleep, more energy, calmness, focus, oil pulling, skincare and more. Not a day goes by when I’m not using my essential oils!
In addition to essential oils, I also used flower essences to balance my body and emotions. Flower essences are herbal infusions made from the flowering part of the plant and each infusion uniquely addresses emotional and mental aspects of wellness. My favorite ones are Cellular Harmony and Restore from Floracopeia. I also love Rescue Remedy.
5. Nurtured my body and mind
I prefer natural and alternative remedies, so I added acupuncture, Reiki, massage, lymph drainage, jin shin jyutsu, singing bowl therapy, infrared sauna, life coaching, yoga and meditation.
I listened to my body when it wanted to rest, when it wanted to do yoga or when it wanted to go on a walk or hang out with a friend. It felt good to tune in to what my body needed and actually listen. I became a better listener because of that – listening to your body takes some getting used to and you have to REALLY listen to hear what it’s telling you.
6. Adjusted my diet
I had been eating mostly organic and healthy foods, but trying to figure out what way of eating was best for healing adrenal fatigue was a different story. I learned about Paleo, Keto, vegan, rag vegan, vegetarian, Wildfit, FODMAP, and everything in between. After a few months, I became so overwhelmed with all the information out there and what the “right” way of eating was.
When my life coach asked me one day “What do you want to eat?” the first thing that came to mind was green juice. But when I searched “green juice and adrenal fatigue,” I learned that raw foods are not good for adrenal fatigue and raw spinach and kale can contribute to thyroid issues. Oh boy! What’s a girl to do?
Trying to figure out what to eat was contributing even more to my stress, so I decided to join some online programs to learn what to eat and what to stay away from. Some programs were very helpful and I still follow many of their guidelines today. Having access to ready-made meal plans and shopping lists took a lot of the overwhelm away.
7. Added supplements
I have never been a fan of supplements or vitamins – I usually tried to get all my nutrients from nutrient-dense foods, but I became open to the idea of adding supplements to my healing protocol. Some supplements helped, while others made me feel worse.
At one point I was taking so many supplements that I threw up and vowed that from that moment on I was going to listen to my body and ask it what supplements it needs, instead of taking everything that my doctor or a website or an online program recommended. I find that I usually can take supplements for about a month, then take a break, and then take them again.
8. Rested more
One of the main keys to my healing was allowing my body to rest more. Well, my body actually didn’t give me a choice at first. When I tried to “push through it,” it gently reminded me that I had to rest. I spent almost a year resting, which was hard to do when you are running two businesses and have three young children.
Sometimes even when my body was resting, my mind was running at 1,000 miles per hour, trying to figure out what to eat, what book to read, what “hack” to implement next and what meditation was the right one. It took me a long time to learn how to rest my racing mind and meditation played a crucial part in that.
9. Let go
Letting go was the hardest thing for me to do. I had to let go of a lot of money and many partnerships and speaking engagements. I had to let go of fun nights out with friends, vacations, new course launches and more. Every time I let something go I felt deep sadness, but I knew that I was letting go for my health and for my happiness.
I even let my marriage go. I had known for a while that my marriage was no longer a good fit, but, in my mind, it was easier to stay together than to start over alone. At first, I tried everything to make it work, until I had no more energy to fight for it. Letting go and no longer fighting for my marriage was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, but looking back, it was necessary in order for me to start healing. I’ll write another blog post about that at some point…
I also let go of physical possessions that were taking up space in my life. I went through my entire house (when I had the energy) and threw things away, donated things, and stopped buying so much “stuff.” All the stuff felt so “heavy” to me and with each item that I let go of, I found more lightness, more healing, more freedom. I’m even downsizing my house right now and looking for a smaller house to move into. I just don’t need all this “stuff.”
10. Embraced and accepted the journey
I put this one last because this was the hardest step for me and it took me about a year and a half to realize. I’m still working on it, to be honest. I’ve had to embrace and accept all of it – letting go of controlling my business, letting go of my marriage, asking for help, loving my tired and exhausted body, not feeling “normal,” eating often to keep my blood sugar balanced, resting more than I ever thought possible, saying YES, saying NO, doing and not doing and everything in between.
They say that in order to heal you need to accept where you are currently at, be grateful for everything and appreciate that every moment, every struggle, is meant to help you evolve into a better human being. I’m finally there, a year and a half into my journey.
It hasn’t been easy by any means and I’m not yet back to my previous energy levels. I still have some more healing to do, physically, emotionally and mentally. But I am so grateful that I have my own business because, to be honest, I would not have been able to hold down a job for this last year and a half. My team has been amazing and I could have never done this without them.
Sometimes there are detours in life and in business and these detours are often opportunities to evaluate what’s working and what’s not working and then take a different path. Detours allow you to face everything head-on, whether you want to or not. The path isn’t always straight, although we sure do strive for that…
It’s the ability to navigate detours that often gifts us with the greatest lessons in life.
I now understand what “There’s a lesson in the pain” finally means. I GET IT and I couldn’t be more excited!!!!!
What are some things you did to heal from burnout or fatigue? Share in the comments below.
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