I have been there. I have suffered burnout out due to living with Superwoman Syndrome.
I have seen and felt the results of what happens when we push ourselves too far, and when we are in a place of constant stress – whether mental, emotional or physical.
I have done it all!
I have been to rock bottom.
I WAS THE BURNED-OUT YOGI
This is my story…
In 2009 I suffered an emotional breakdown and severe burnout. I had given too much of myself to my emotionally toxic marriage and had tried to fix, save and heal my newly diagnosed bipolar husband.
This experience sucked all the life out of me!
One of the best decisions I ever made was to stop trying to take responsibility for someone else’s growth, health, and happiness and to be responsible for MY life and MY well being instead.
I signed the divorce papers and a few days later I was on a plane.
On the 4th of April 2010 I went on an adventure, my own personal ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ journey and over nine months I travelled to India, Bali, and Australia.
I did 4 944 Yoga Sun Salutes for charity; I visited only warm places with beaches, sunshine, and happiness.
I went to heal, gain strength, figure out who I was, discover my passions, have fun and rediscover my inner light.
This was my Follow the Sun Journey.
I gave myself permission and some space to think, to dream, to discover me and what I wanted from life. “What was my purpose?”
Along my travels it hit me! My body gave me the answer… It tingled all over.
“I want to do this! My purpose is this! I want to create this healing journey, for other women.”
And so, that is what I did…
Seven years later, after many years of inspiring women to create their own sunshine and having founded and run my yoga and women’s wellness company, Follow the Sun, I find myself back in paradise, on a beautiful island and back to feeling exhausted.
This time it is different though.
I am not emotionally drained and depleted. After my divorce, I decided I will never again lose myself in a relationship like I did before.
This time it is physical and mental. I have lost myself in my work and the running of my wellness businesses!
Damn it! I did it again.
I have given so much of myself, I have nothing left to give.
I am pissed off with myself that I am in this situation again!
Once again, I am burned out.
I have spent the morning in the warm, crystal turquoise blue water floating on my SUP board gazing at the turtles swimming beneath me. It is beautiful. I am in paradise.
Now, as I lie on a day-bed with white beach sand between my toes, salt in my hair, a frangipani flower behind my ear and coconut smelling suntan lotion on my skin, I drink my freshly squeezed pineapple juice, reflect on my day and think to myself, “I should be loving life.” But I’m not!
That is the thing about trying to be Superwoman, on the outside it may seem we have it all together.
It looks like I live the perfect life.
To the outside world, I am a successful business owner.
I travel the world to exotic locations while inspiring women to create their own sunshine.
To the outside world, I seem happy and free and yet on the inside my body is in knots of anxiety.
I feel trapped, depleted and exhausted. But I don’t even realize I have these feelings because I am too busy, too rushed to listen to my body’s messages.
I have been ‘coping’ for so long now! I have been too strong.
For seven long years since my divorce, I have been the ultimate Superwoman and creating my Empire.
I have built up Follow the Sun to a business that is now running in two major cities in South Africa and takes ladies on International retreats all over the world.
We now not only offer private yoga classes, free outdoor group yoga sessions, one-on-one life coaching, workshops, weekend retreats, and tourist packages but I have also created a 9-month Corporate Wellness Program.
For this, I fly up to Johannesburg once a month to facilitate.
I have 20 Yoga Angels and 10 Coaching Angels working for me – project managers, finance people, marketing people, a marvelous wing girl, and right-hand woman, plus business mentors and coaches.
That is only in Cape Town, never mind our JHB branch!
It has been a great success.
We are transforming so many people’s lives, and I love what I do.
However, if I am totally honest with myself, I am doing too much. I am tired and utterly depleted!
When I finally take some time out to listen to my inner wisdom and have this moment of clarity on the beach in paradise, I realize she is saying,
“You need space, dear Sharni.”
She whispers, “You need to stop. You need to say no. You need to let go. You need to stop giving to everyone else and remember to look after yourself.”
I won’t lie to you. It was not a painless process.
It took me another 18 months to fully realize I was in full-blown Superwoman Syndrome and then figure out how to recover from it.
During this time, I went through another big breakdown — this time full-on mental and physical burnout.
The cost of me trying to be Superwoman, of me living with constant underlying stress and eventually burning out entirely in September 2017 had an extreme impact on many areas of my life.
Burning out meant that:
- I had to let go of my relationship at the time as I realized the situation was draining me.
- I put my business on hold as I didn’t have the energy to engage with my clients.
- I spent thousands, including all my savings, on medical bills and healers.
- I had to survive day-to-day with no salary for more than a year and a half.
- For a year I hid from the world – I went off social media – and physically couldn’t connect with my Tribe of Ladies, my friends or my family (which was highly unusual for natural bubbly, social butterfly me).
- The most devastating cost for me, the main impact due to my major two burnout episodes, is not that my life completely ‘fell apart’…. but that I did.
The health implications were catastrophic to my life and severely debilitating.
I have learned that without our health, we have nothing!
So, what exactly did burnout look like for me physically, this time?
I suffered from:
- chronic fatigue
- adrenal dysfunction
- stomach issues.
These manifested as symptoms of:
- depression and anxiety
- debilitating fatigue
- brain fog
- hormone imbalances
- tingling fingers
- ringing in my ears
- seeing stars
- feeling faint and dizzy
- feeling bloated
- stomach cramps
- only having one menstruation period in 5 months
I couldn’t stand up or hold a conversation for more than 5 minutes without feeling like I was going to pass out, I was not able to work on my computer or to be on my phone for more than 1/2hr a day without feeling sick.
I couldn’t get out of bed, never mind exercise or get through a Vinyasa Yoga session.
My emotions were all over the place, I was constantly crying, I felt like a failure and had extremely low self-worth and self-confidence.
My body was in constant fight or flight mode.
My nervous system was shot and no matter how much rest I took, or how much time-out I had in an Ashram, I didn’t feel better.
For a normally positive person I had a very negative mind set.
I was irritable, angry and I was in constant fear and lack mode.
I dropped balls, I let people down.
I didn’t have the energy to face the world and I didn’t like the person I had become.
This was as a result of me trying so hard to be Superwoman and putting myself under severe stress for many years.
Watch this video where I was interviewed by Natural Medicine World at the beginning of 2018. This video was before I put myself on my ‘Burnout Rehab & Recovery Program.’ I felt quite dizzy and spaced out when doing the interview – but I was still Superwoman at this time… can you tell?
An honest interview with Sharni Quinn on her struggle with real life as a burnt-out yogi.So many people want to make a living from doing yoga. It is not easy and you still need admin and business skills and to learn basic business principles. Importantly take time to understand what makes you stand out from the rest. Get Sharni Quinn's book 'Follow the Sun' here – https://natmedworld.com/product/follow-the-sun/
Posted by Natural Medicine World on Monday, May 14, 2018
What happened next on my Journey?
After my major burnout, after being put onto antidepressants for four months and then going off them because the side-effects were awful (by the way I went off them in a healthy way and working with a naturopath, just before you think I was going off meds on my own.)
After not being able to cope, after losing my health and being incapable of living a ‘normal’ life, after disappointing and almost losing my clients, I had a moment of clarity.
I needed to let go and redesign my life.
It wasn’t just about enjoying the odd bubble bath or massage or going on a holiday or retreat to beautiful locations.
It wasn’t only about doing work that I loved, or having fun, laughing and enjoying a glass of wine with my girlfriends.
It wasn’t the healthy living routine of doing yoga, eating clean, having a daily meditation practice and getting to bed early; I was doing all of that!
I needed to go deeper.
I had to honestly look at my life choices, my unhealthy patterns, my limiting beliefs that were holding me back.
I needed to dive deep and to redefine, realign and redesign the way I was living my life.
During 18 months I admitted I was #theburntoutyogi.
I let go of EVERYTHING in my life that was no longer serving me.
I redesigned my work life, so I am only on my computer for a maximum of 3 hours a day.
I let go of my home, and I now live between the healing haven of Bali and my base in Cape Town.
I have simplified my day-to-day activities, and I even cut off my long lifeless hair.
My most massive shift was not only realizing that I was trying to be Superwoman but also a people pleasing, perfectionist ‘yes’ girl, who aimed to have it all – success, love, money, a family and do this all plus ‘save the world’ and EVERYONE in it.
No wonder I burnt out!
Eventually, I stopped.
I stopped trying to be Superwoman and released the fears that were driving me and the expectations I put on myself.
I slowed down, ceased everything that I was doing and how I was doing it, I stepped back into my power, connected with my inner wisdom and got back into flow.
I admitted I was the Burnt-out Yogi and I put myself on my own ‘Burnout Rehab and Recovery Program’ for 66 days.
I spent months resting in Bali as well as seeking treatment with traditional Balinese healers; working with naturopaths and functional medicine doctors; seeing EFT practitioners; doing gentle yoga; reiki; daily massages; weekly acupuncture and chakra meditations; visiting astrologists and angel card readers; as well as changing my diet, lifestyle, thinking patterns and limiting beliefs.
Read more about my healing plan and Burnout Recovery Program in this blog – ‘My Life-changing Burnout Recovery Journey.’
Since then, I have completely got rid of anything toxic that was draining my energy.
I lost excess weight, I let go of fear and obstacles that were holding me back… and now I feel happy, alive, radiant and free again.
I have transformed my life so that I now:
· Stress less and live more
· Control less and surrender more
· Cope less and flow more
· Work less and earn more
· Criticise less and accept more
· Rush less and experience more
· Fear less and trust more
I have transformed my life from burnout to bliss and from feeling trapped to being free!
There is one particular moment of freedom that I will never forget…
The sun is shining.
I can smell the essence of Spring.
I feel the wind on my face as I drive on my bright blue scooter and weave my way through Nyuh Kuning – a green, peaceful suburb in Ubud, Bali.
Frangipani flowers scatter the street. Local children wave as I scoot by.
I have a large bag at my feet – items for the ‘handover ceremony’ I am about to perform.
Life has unfolded magnificently these past few months.
I still can’t believe how it has all flowed!
Yes, there were times when I was dealing with utter fear and panic, what-ifs and all the emotions that come with letting go of the old and moving into the unknown new.
It is in this moment that I realize that everything has worked out exactly as it was meant to… and I am so grateful I dared to take the plunge.
You see, I have let go of what was fundamentally draining me.
Even though it was extremely challenging and many people questioned if it was the ‘right’ thing to do.
I knew deep down in my soul that this is the only way forward if I want to save myself and allow everything else to still grow.
So what was this big decision I made… this life-altering leap of faith that I have taken?
I have officially let go of my business – all of it – 100%.
I have signed the documents and have sold ‘Follow the Sun Retreats,’ – my ‘baby’ which I have been nurturing for the past eight years.
How do I feel?
Well, as I know it is the right way forward for me, my clients and for the amazing woman who has bought my business, I feel undeniably light and free!
That is where I am riding to now.
I am on my way to officially hand over the business and do it in a ‘typical Sharni fashion’ – with a blessing and handover ceremony.
This ceremony will include candles, incense, crystals, meditations and a card session (and a few tears I am sure, to add to the process).
As I soak up this moment and drive through paradise and towards a new future, I have my earphones in, as I listen to Eddie Vedder’s song, “Better days.” His words are so poignant:
I feel part of the universe open up to meet me
My emotion so submerged, broken down to kneel in
Once listening, the voices they came
Had to somehow greet myself, read myself
Heard vibrations within my cells, in my cells
Singing, “Ah-la-ah-ah, ah-la-ah-ah”
My love is safe for the universe
See me now, I’m bursting
On one planet, so many turns
Singing, “Ah-la-ah-ah, ah-ah-ah-ah, ah”
Fill my heart with discipline
Put there for the teaching
In my head see clouds of stairs
Help me as I’m reaching
The future’s paved with better days
I take a deep breath, breathe in the feeling of freedom and open up to wherever my future may take me.
Excitement rises in my belly as I realize…
THAT… COULD… BE… ANYWHERE!
Sending much love & light
Formerly known as the Burnout Yogi – who is now Freedom Woman!
If you feel like you are dealing with major stress and may be on a downward spiral, then take this ‘Burnout Barometer Quiz‘ to discover where you are on the 12 stages of burnout. After you have submitted the quiz you will receive an eight day email sequence from me where I share my free eBook with you – Stress Less. Live More – as well as information on understanding more about burnout and how to heal.
Take the quiz now!