When you’re a focused person like me, you loves achievement and being productive, you can push yourself too hard and burn out without even noticing – until it’s too late. Some people call it “superhuman syndrome”.
So, how do you deal with this superhuman syndrome and stop burning out, so you can get your wellbeing back on track?
You slow down, zoom out and get perspective. Work out what’s important to you – and therefore, what needs to change. An easy way to get that perspective is to simply write yourself a letter about what’s going on.
Superhuman Syndrome – An Open Letter to Myself
I’m so proud of you! You managed to cook your meals for the week, support your team in business, finish your contract work and tick off ten tasks on your to-do list.
I know how much you love achieving things, helping others, and being an action-taker. It feels amazing!
But I wanted to point something out to you.
The other day, I noticed that you were wistful. Your husband was going to the beach and you wished you were going too….but you “had too much to do and couldn’t go”.
Was that really true?
I think not. That relationship is important, but it seems that you were thinking about how much you ‘need to achieve’ before you go on holiday. You were feeling guilty about taking time away from your desk. Your shoulders were aching but you ignored them. Because you had ‘work to do’. Important work.
Ok, so maybe it WAS important that day.
But what about the next day, when your friend invited you over? You felt a pull to your desk – a surge of panic. And you asked yourself, “can I visit her and still get all my work done today?” That was your manic mind talking.
You told her there was a deadline. But your friend is insightful and she knows you well. She asked, “whose deadline is it – someone else’s, or yours?”
Of course now, you know that there was no urgent deadline.
No life-threatening situation to avoid.
No earth-shattering dilemma.
And nobody was being let down by you taking a break.
You were simply living in that compulsive world of “I must”, and thinking about catastrophe that you were trained to focus on as a child. You know, the old, “if you don’t do X, then XYZ will happen!!” In reality, you would have really enjoyed that time with your friend.
THEN I heard you say…”I’ll start my exercise tomorrow.” Four times.
You felt too exhausted and overwhelmed to do anything social on the weekend, even though you know how important connection with others is to you. All that stress was ruining your relationship with exercise, which you really need, want and enjoy.
Although the signs of burnout were clearly showing, it was like you couldn’t even see them there.
You know Mel, I’m not judging you when I say this. I’m simply observing the facts.
I observe that you are struggling to calm down, wind down, and be balanced, at the moment. And while your work output is admirable, I can see that you’re missing out on some things that are really important to you right now – relationships, connection, free time, exercise….and FUN.
Let’s face it, when you get into your superhuman syndrome, you lose your creativity, your inspiration and your zest.
Unless you change this pattern, superhuman syndrome is going to take hold….and your superhuman self will die an admirable death one day, reveling in the glory of all the to-do lists she finished…..
….but reflecting back, she will realise that she was unfulfilled in the rest of her life.
She will think about everything she missed out on – the richness of life that creates love, peace, flow, harmony and satisfaction.
She will think of the times she let people down, or didn’t let people in, or couldn’t be there for the people that really mattered. So much for being someone who ‘likes to help others’!
Remember your 3-week digital detox and surf trip to Lombok last year? You were full of boundaries and mental quietness then. You felt alive. Inspired. Amazing!
You promised yourself that you would create a balanced life from now on. You had some bold plans and initiatives to make it work.
But something along the way, you lost track and couldn’t keep that momentum going. You slipped into old habits, becoming busy, panicked, and exhausted, so that you withdrew from the world and those important connections and feelings.
This time, Ms super-human, let’s make it work.
Let’s apply our super-human efforts to the rest of life, to get the best of life.
Let’s do it right!
I’m allowing you to take time this week to reflect on what’s important – and to find you someone you can talk to so you can work out what you want and how you’ll get it. Then, you can make a realistic, 100% do-able plan, and get the accountability you need to put it into action.
I know you can do this!
It seems big and scary right now, but remember how good you felt last year….well yes, you CAN absolutely feel that again. Most of all, you deserve to.
Lots of love
PS Isn’t it interesting….there are only two letters difference between ‘fantastic’ and ‘fanatic’.
Chief Inspiration Coach
I'm a quirky scientist and a Health and Wellness Coach who helps 35+ women to understand and eat right for their body type.