Something I have learned over the past year is that self-care is critical. Simple, right? Not so much.
For the past decade, I have worked a 9-5 job. I gave it my all. In the beginning, it was easy. I was single, had very few responsibilities, and loved the work. But as time went on, things changed. I met my wonderful husband; I bought a few houses/cars, I had a daughter, and so much more. The carefree way of life seemed to disappear without me even realizing it. After more than ten years with the same company, I found myself in desperate need of a break.
But I didn’t know that; I drove myself to the ground; I suffered from severe burnout, which triggered a major depressive episode. Instead of taking a much-needed vacation, I was forced by my body and soul to take time off, which has led to nearly a year of recovery.
When I first left work, I felt so incredibly guilty. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or how I could have let things get so bad. But the truth was, I was broken. I couldn’t take another step without crumbling to the ground. I needed time off. I needed time to reset.
So, for the past year, barring a few attempts to return to work, I have focused on healing. I have worked to find things that make me happy, things that spark the joy of life into my soul. I found a few new outlets, such as writing, but I also had to find the old ones, like running. It’s been a struggle every step of the way to do what others find so simple, finding my happiness.
In the future, I do see myself going back to work; I do see myself mixing the necessities of life with the things that fill my joy bucket. It takes time, though. The first six months of my recovery were spent struggling with guilt and anxiety about missing work. Then I realized that those emotions were not serving me or anyone else. Letting them go was a struggle, but once I did, things got better. Life got easier, and the true recovery started.
Now, nearly one year into my journey to find self-love and recover from burnout, I have discovered new passions and new drives to life. My family has taken a more central role in my happiness, but they aren’t the only thing anymore. I am more than an employee, a wife, and a mother. I am a creator, an athlete, a learner, and so much more. I no longer identify by my position. I don’t start with ‘Hi, I’m Larissa, and I work for <insert company>.’ That isn’t my identifier anymore. I am more.
So, take the time, my friends. Learn about yourselves. Find what truly makes you happy and fight for it. It’s worth it.