Simples. Sit in a corner, stare at the wall and don’t do anything. You will of course die of boredom but small sacrifices and all that..

Now I’ve exercised my sarky side I will endeavour to be a little serious, perhaps even giving off the impression I think about things, deeply at times. Last week on Thursday it was World Mental Health Day and I shared a story of my own burnout and how it effected my mental health. This feels like an apt time to expand on that post a little more and talk about the strategies and signs I have since learnt. Hopefully there can be something in here that can help you avoid things getting too deep in the sh*t.

What are the signs?

These are all common symptoms and signs that you are starting to get into a dark place:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Butterflies in your tummy (must be said like you’d say it to a toddler)
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor and little sleep
  • Waking up each day with a feeling of dread
  • Struggling to listen to other people as you’re so consumed in your own thoughts and feelings
  • Questioning your own existence
  • Feeling hopeless and out of control

There will no doubt be more and stress can manifest itself in very particular ways to the individual, but those above are what I personally experienced. 

Take a step back

Seems a sensible idea doesn’t it but what does ‘stepping back’ actually mean and how can I make myself do it? 

I found the way that often worked best for me was getting out for a run as it was one of those few times I could escape and find some time for me to think. I appreciate not everyone is a fan of exercise, to you people, I suggest making some time in the day where you and only you, do something you enjoy and allows you thinking space. I know how quickly and easily it is to not do these things, particularly when busy with kids and work but you need to think of it as self medication to stay healthy.

Simplification, Simplification, Simplification

Alas, this doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Kirsty and Phil’s ‘Location, Location, Location’ but I reckon its point is just as pertinent. When things are building up and starting to become too much, you’ve got to simplify. Whilst we may be amazing at multi-tasking and make use of the amazing tech that helps us do more. This isn’t a healthy place to stay in 100% of the time. Stating the obvious but we’re not machines, our bodies and minds are a fluid organism, so allow it space to do its natural thing. 

It’s good to reset things at regular intervals. I’m not talking of this having to be an extreme reset but it’s fair to say the level of extremity will directly correlate with how deep in the mental depths you are. Much better to reset little and often to avoid things getting too big.

People are awesome

It’s so easy to bottle things up, especially when they can make you appear weak and vulnerable. Not traits you typically try and showcase when running your business. What I have found time and time again is as soon as you do talk, people are amazingly supportive. The old adage of a problem shared is a problem halved is true. As soon as you start feeling dark and finding things overwhelming, talk about it. As soon as you try and articulate and vocalise what’s going on in your head you’re effectively doing some therapy!

Keep those minds of yours healthy and remember people are great, take some time out for yourself and don’t indefinitely over commit.

And remember, if you don't feel like you can effectively help yourself get out of where you are, make use of the professional and trained services out there.