Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Who do you lean on?

Who do you lean on?

Who do you lean on?

Who do you lean on in times of stress or crisis? When you are burnt out? Or even, for that matter, in normal day-to-day life?

Since jumping on the burnout bandwagon a couple of weeks back, I have done a bit of digging into what to do about it – all well and good to know you are heading towards burnout but without practical help, it is a slippery and troubling slope.

One of the symptoms of neurasthenia – Victorian burnout – is emotional weariness. For me, this encapsulates

  • a lack of emotional resilience with other people’s problems or needs
  • out-of-character and disproportional emotional outbursts
  • difficulty with work and personal relationships
  • irritability and unnecessary conflict with our nearest and dearest
  • withdrawing from or avoiding people altogether

This is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the focus is on relationships: the importance of having a support network to lean on.

One of my commonest emotions during our time living with My Beloved’s Black Dog was loneliness – few people knew what was going on, and therefore I had little support or opportunity to express how I was feeling and share the load. And this is of course even more true for MB, the one dominated by said Black Dog.

As I was musing on this post, I was humming to myself the Bill Withers song, Lean on Me. The words are so insightful and profound, especially

“no one can fill those of your needs that you don’t let show”.

Wow. I have in the past not let people in to how I was really feeling because of fear of what they would think, stubbornness, pride, lack of opportunity, fear of being misunderstood…..whilst simultaneously craving their support. Yet how could they provide that support for me to lean on if I didn’t let my needs show?

So: how good is your support system?

Who do you lean on, and how do you strengthen and invest in that support system?

Who leans on you?

Some very simple practical ideas for reconnecting with and strengthening your support system:

  • prioritise spending time with true friends, those who ask you how you are not just what you are doing, who accept you just as you are, and who love you even at your worst.  (I still remember having proper ‘flu as a student, being flat-bound on my own, and a friend turning up with emergency supplies – he took one look at me, told me how horrific I looked, gave me a big hug and made me tea. Love him for it.) It doesn’t have to be hours and hours, but identifying who these people are, and making time for them regularly is crucial to maintaining that support system you lean on.
  • Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, someone who makes you feel good
  • do something nice for someone else, unexpectedly and without any desired reciprocation
  • say thank you to people you normally don’t notice or that you take for granted
  • write an old fashioned letter.

As Bill Withers puts it so beautifully –

Sometimes in our life, we all have pain, we all have sorrow

But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on

For it won’t be long till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride if I have things you need to borrow

For no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show

If there is a load you have to bear that you can’t carry

I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load if you just call me

Other ways to tackle burnout that we will take a look at over the coming weeks include

paying attention to your body

self care and how not to self anaesthetise

relaxation and re-envisioning

disconnecting and reconnecting

so stay tuned.

But for this week of Mental Health awareness and promoting relationships, who do you lean on? And who leans on you? How can you this week let them know how important they are as your support system?

2 Thoughts on “Who do you lean on?

  1. Shameen Prashantham on May 24, 2016 at 1:28 am said:

    Insightful and practical — many thanks!

    • Catriona Futter on May 24, 2016 at 12:18 pm said:

      Thank you – I aim to make people think, but also hopefully provide simple, practical tools that will encourage action.

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