Bernadette used to be someone who was always exposing herself to challenges in order to be the best that she could be, pushing herself physically, mentally and professionally. This included achieving her PhD by the time she was 28, completing her Masters at Imperial College, running marathons and even ultra marathons!
Bernadette had little time or consideration for rest, recovery or recuperation, it just wasn’t something that sat comfortably with her. However, it eventually all caught up with her.
In 2016 she experienced burnout, exhaustion, low mood and anxiety. She was not sleeping more than 4 hours a night, struggling to get out of bed in the morning but wired at night meaning she couldn’t sleep no matter how much she tried. This was a strange situation to be in because she considered herself to be a fit person, She ran a lot and went to the gym and ate well, but pushing herself physically and mentally made her feel very unwell. Eventually she was diagnosed with chronic stress and adrenal fatigue.
As someone who was always surrounded by high achieving individuals (whether that was professional athletes or high achieving academics), the message was always “push harder”. This was the story Bernadette started to tell herself, you need to push harder and harder. However, Bernadette found out there is a tipping point.
“There is such a fine line – there is a tipping point that we are all trying to find and most often we find it by accident”
We all experience stress but knowing where the line is, where the tipping point is important. Very often we find the line when we go over it. For an athlete that may be an injury, for someone in corporate it might be burnout.
As adults we need to continuously explore our needs and find ways to meet these needs. There is no one size fits all.
Stress is inevitable, we can’t prevent it, but we can build up our resilience in order to deal with it. We need to learn how to manage it.
Can you treat yourself like an athlete?
Bernadette’s explains that if we treated ourselves like athletes – “corporate athletes” – we would recognise that there is a need for rest and recovery in order to perform. Athletes recognise the importance of recovery in order to compete, this is no different for non-athletes, irrespective of the work we do.
Bernadette shares her story openly and vulnerably and inspires deeply.
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