In this episode of LivingUpp's Conversations with Smart People, I talked with Christine Clifton about self-care and work/life balance.
Christine is the author of Get Ready. Get Set. Flow...: Work/Life Integration for Soul-Powered People* and she describes herself as a work/life pivot partner. In her work with soul-powered entrepreneurs and professionals, she meets clients at their crossroads and helps them decide which way to go.
In this interview, we're talking about burnout and the controversial topic of work/life balance.
If you're struggling to create more balance while simultaneously managing all the personal and professional pieces of your life, hopefully this conversation will give you some insights and ideas for doing life differently.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called "burn-out" an occupational phenomenon involving chronic stress that hasn't been successfully managed. While burnout is included in the ICD-11 (an International Classification of Diseases), it's not technically a medical condition.
But not everyone agrees with this definition.
With 20 years of experience working in a corporate HR setting, Christine has some unique insights into how burnout manifests in real-life.
For many who experience this kind of stress, "there's an element of people-pleasing or over-serving or the savior behavior," Christine explains. Many people who are wired for service are so focused on pleasing others, and they sometimes do so to their own detriment. And caring for yourself can get translated into not doing enough for others.
But the core problem is that most people who experience burnout are doing something they don't prefer to do. They stretch themselves because they're being asked to, and saying 'no' is difficult, especially in the workplace.
When you're feeling the symptoms of burnout, one question you can ask yourself is this: "What's one thing I can do for myself right now?"
This is where self-care becomes so important. Knowing which self-care strategies are the most effective require some experimenting.
Likewise, having healthy boundaries can also prevent burnout. While we often associate boundaries with saying 'no' or setting limits, boundaries are really about protection. They protect our values and vision of our ideal life.
Sometimes setting boundaries looks like seeking out new opportunities that are in better alignment with your strengths, such as having a discussion with a manager about potential new job assignments.
"Ultimately," says Christine, "if you don't like the way your life is today, what needs to happen to make things different?"
That's the question that leads us to the heart of the matter.
While "balance" may be unrealistic and unattainable as a state of being, there's little doubt that life does have a sweet spot--where we feel good and content and in a state of flow.
But if balance isn't the right word for you, simply relabel it to something that feels better.
Christine's personal health journey includes a series of chronic illnesses over the past 25 years. For her, self-care comes moment by moment--and hour by hour. "Our bodies give us signals and they send off alarm bells" she says. We just have to listen.
In addition to a healthy diet and supplementation, she includes baths and a sound machine for vagal nerve stimulation.
In her coaching practice, Christine helps clients "step off the unattainable work/life balance crazy train and step into an integrated life of ease." Learn more about how to connect with her below.
Have a thought about work/life balance? Leave a comment below.
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