I’ve already spoken about having a busy life and learning to manage that. So maybe I feel a little silly and stupid that I am already writing a post about burning out, and why its scary. When I started working in the fitness industry, everyone warned me ‘don’t become burnt out’. I laughed and smiled it off, of course I could handle the level of responsibility it was to look after myself in terms of managing work, training, uni and other projects. It’s very easy to keep saying ‘yes’ to things you love. I am extremely grateful that my job is something I am willingly to say ‘yes’ many times again. However, in terms of keeping my bosses happy, me saying I will do every class under the sun is great for them, but quickly catches up with my physical and mental health.
Teaching is both a performance of physical abilities as well as a performance of an act. When I am on the stage of my spin bike, I have to pretend to ignore all the problems of Martha the student, and I become Martha the spin instructor. A Martha who has to convey to my audience that I am happy, positive and completely motivated to be there. When in reality, this could be my 5thclass in a row, I have 3 deadlines I should be writing, I am exhausted from the lack of sleep, and I have just been asked to cover another 2 classes. But I can’t show this pain for the next 45 minutes. Pain. Pain of this mental strain rather than a physical. It hurts. Burnout hurts your head. It hurts my relationships with my job, my social energy, my academia. It makes me weak of a Martha that was balanced in a life of everything working in the right order. It is ironic that fitness instructors may be the strongest people both mentally and physically. I won’t pretend that this is the hardest job in the world, of course nurses, doctors and military officers have it worse. I guess I have to remember is that this isn’t my full time job. I am a university student. And without that eye roll that most people do when mentioning I am one, university IS HARD. Studying a subject you’re passionate about, and want to engage in all the content and realms around the area is something I try to do. Work/ life balance is a master game.
Burnout in the fitness industry is very much real and scary. I have seen a friend get seriously ill from doing too much. As I said, I was warned about it. But no one really tells you how to say ‘no’. The ‘yes yes yes’ mentality is almost addictive. Exercise and get paid for it?? How could you say no. Yet, all the ‘yes’’ have left me here. Feeling fatigued, tired and extremely low mood for no other reason than that. It makes me sad. Because I love it so much, yet it is constantly pulling my mental health backwards.
Learning. It really doesn’t end. Learning about yourself is a never ending lesson. One I look forward to learning the outcome from each mistake of a story, a moral or reasoning is always there to learn from. This is a curve of knowing the limits that suit me, what I can cope or not cope with. Work is great. Finding a job I really do love and that I look forward to doing is something I really didn’t think I would find so early on in life. I guess, there is a reason that work isn’t why we live. And we don’t live for work.
So as I write this on my way to have a break from all things stress, burn out and fatigue. I sit on a plane, with a tv screen playing 30Rock, a Chinese couple next to me. Ready to land to visit a person that puts the happiness back into my life. So many things to say about Hugh, but what I will say is, make sure you find a ‘Hugh’ in your life. Make it one of your life’s missions. To sum up Hugh in a few sentences. Hugh is someone that really embraces the part of myself I thought was something I should hide from most. I am always smiling when I am with him. We talk not only about ourselves to each other but also about subjects the other one is interested in, even if we don’t always understand it (sorry Hugh, still trying to learn about the British government!). He even brings out qualities I didn’t know I had. He allows Martha in all the glory that is me, and then makes me even brighter with glow. I escape when I am with Hugh, but I runaway to a place that is more Myself then I realise. I am Martha – in all senses of the being. Because Hugh invites me to be that. I hope I give him that outlet for himself.
Visiting Hugh, a new city, a new routine, is good for mental health. Mental health requires a bundle of happy memories to feed off. For a little while, my bucket has only contained work, university and a very ruminating brain. Which hasn’t thrived for a while. Soaking up my time whilst I’m away to return back to my happy health head.