By Victoria Walsh
Why you need to start asking for help
Reaching out for help or changing to help yourself is not a sign of weakness. It is not about failure either (despite the ‘but…’ you might have in your head right now). It is not a negative of any kind.
Read these words and soak them in: reaching out for help, no matter how humbling it may feel, is an act of courage. Yes, courage.
It speaks to your insight to recognize there is an issue. It demonstrates a willingness to move through the issue. A desire for change and growth. It shows the world that you are a fighter.
It is not a matter of ‘not being able to handle it’. It is about creating and maintaining a life of healthy balance so that you can do more of what’s important to you. How? By helping yourself and allowing others to help you.
Helping you help yourself
#1 Know Thyself
When asked which was more important, hustle or self-awareness, business guru Gary Vanerchuk said it that even though hustle is considered ‘sexy’, self-awareness is hands down the most important aspect in life and business. In the hustle and bustle, we sometimes lose sight of self-awareness (and self-care!) and end up driving ourselves right into burnout.
Start with taking a good look inwards and discover exactly who you are. Not who others want you to be, not who you think you should be, but who you are. If you need a little help, there are great resources like Gretchin Rubin’s newest book. The Four Tendencies starts with a quiz which identifies personality types regarding inner and outer obligations. The results might surprise you and more importantly, help guide you. Personally, I love her work and found this latest book particularly helpful!
I have this book, call it a journal if you will. I keep everything in this book. My goals for the year, what I envision life being like in my forties, dream shopping lists, my financial plan for the year, business ideas for Girl Gone Good, etc. This book has been gold. It keeps me focused on who I am and what I really want out of life.
Try it: Grab a blank notebook and list out all your goals and aspirations for the week, month, new year, etc. What do you want to get done the rest of this year? What are your values, the most important things/people/experiences in your life? What brings you joy and what needs to change? What are your stressors? How can you work towards changing them? What programs/resources are around that you can gain support from?
A friend I greatly respect, just introduced me to Best Self Company and their journals, which we’ll both be doing together (team effort and accountability!). The journal is a wonderful exercise in self, highly organized, and with online supports. If you need something more structured than a blank book, this might be for you.
#2 Say ‘no’ More Often To Leave Room For ‘hell yes’
A beautiful thing about our time in this world is that it is not unlimited. Seriously. It’s part of what makes life precious. And if that’s the case, then we should cherish the time we have and fill it with as much of whatever feeds our souls and warms our hearts.
This means saying ‘no’ more often and leaving room to say ‘hell yes’ to what matters most. Our time and energy is a valuable resource! We should be able to choose (guilt free) how we want to spend it. As mind blowing as this concept is, we are all allowed to say no. Often saying yes to everything, including to things that aren’t fulfilling, comes at the expense of our own health. What happens then? You do too much. You stress. You crash. Health issues arise. Suddenly you’re not in position to say yes to anything, even to what matters most. What good are we burnt out? Not much. Saying ‘no’ allows you to say ‘yes’. This is starting to sound I’m on repeat, but I think you get the point…
How do we say no?!?! It’s a hard thing. I get that. For some odd reason in North America, saying ‘no’ is often taken personally. **rolling eyes** It shouldn’t be. A great tactic is the ‘YES-NO-YES’ described in this great quick read. It’s a bit like the “sh@t sandwich” which makes me laugh, but it works! Being able to say no gives you back your autonomy in life and we all deserve to have that control.
There may be some grumbles from your family/friends/workplace but by sticking with it, they will adjust. Try reading through this short article for a few tips. What I’ve done in the last two years, is that I started saying no to extra projects, social functions, and collaborations that didn’t feel like a ‘hell yes’. I rarely do work lunches as a rule or wine nights with the girls, instead, I offer alternatives that often consolidate socials in an environment that leaves me fulfilled (hellooo mother nature).
Ex: “Sorry Stacey, I can’t come to your girl’s night on Thursday. Annie also asked me to a function on Saturday and Janice wanted to meet for shopping. I’d love to see everyone and catch up though, how about we all meet up Sunday morning for a nice hike instead?” And if they say no thanks? That’s ok.
In short, it’s ok to say no, consolidate socials/functions if possible, and do more of what you enjoy. It’s your life to live and enjoy.
#3 Stay Grounded With Self-care
Perhaps this isn’t the self-care you’re thinking of here but I’m going to highlight nutrition and the company you keep for very good reasons!
One of the biggest factors in bouncing back from adrenal insufficiency was revamping my daily nutrition completely so that my body had the nutrients it needed to not only heal but handle future stressors as well.
Nutrition matters and the newest research in stress, gut, digestion, mental health, and hormones and their link to nutrition, is paving the way to change how we view just how much our daily diets affect and heal us. It is fascinating that our health issues can be managed (whole or partially) by nutrition. The point is that we all should pay attention to what we’re putting on our forks because it has a direct correlation to our health. I wouldn’t have been able to bounce back from adrenal insufficiency without medication so quickly if it wasn’t for dietary changes and Pranin Organic vitamins. It’s that simple. My stress management protocol includes Pranin Organic’s PureFood Trio (includes PureFood A to Z, PureFood B, and PureFood C) every morning. Even though I am now fully recovered, the PureFood Trio is still part of my morning routine along with the PureFood Iron!
Remember the adage “you are the company you keep”? It rings true and is especially important when it comes to our mood and habits. Friends can influence, enable, and challenge us. Being susceptible to this form of peer pressure is in our nature. If this is the case, then we should take stock of our closest influencers and marry that with our self-awareness to provide the best possible supportive environment for health and happiness! As the famous Jim Rohn quote goes; “You are the average of the five people you spent the most time with.”
Try it: List out those you spend the most time in real time and online. Now take a closer look at each one by writing out what you admire them for (strengths) and what you do not like about them as much. Do they lift you up or pull you down? Is it a one-way street or mutually supportive? Do they enable your bad habits or challenge you to do better?
Reaching out for help
Reaching out for help, versus burning out completely, should be something we recognize and praise each other for! Yet, you might feel that there is still a little stigma associated with asking for help. Perhaps it is a matter of pride or a little bit of fear. I’m here to tell you to let those things go and embrace our gorgeously diverse humanity. We are meant to struggle and thrive together. That togetherness, sense of community, should be what we’re most proud of. It is ok to ask for help, and later you’ll likely be able to pay it forward, which is the beauty of life isn’t it?
So how do you break through that barrier and ask for help?
There was a point in this last year that I was utterly, well, broken. Stress was through the roof. The future was unknown. It was gum and duct tape everywhere. My health, academics, finances, and work were all suffering. Actually, they were all failing. It was incredibly humbling. Family stepped in. I called a friend. They picked me back up. I started asking for more help. One friend fueled my soul. Another challenged me to do better. Teachers worked with me so that I could stay in the nursing program. There was no shame in leaning on others because as one friend stated, “I know you would do the same for me in a heartbeat”. They were right, I would. That one little sentence made me realize that reaching out was ok and that we don’t have to be alone in our struggles. It all starts with the oh-so-simple yet ridiculously hard admission of “I need help.” Like author Margie Warrell so poignantly states in her book Brave; “The truth is that we all have gifts to share – time, talent, connections, insights, experience, skills, resources, hospitality. And most people love to share them!”.
Try it: Identify your stressors and what you can do to relieve/eliminate them. Next write a list of friends, family, or community resources that could help you in that process. Start with one stressor and call one person. Talk about the issue, how you’re working on it, and ask for help.
Some key things to take away from this article and keep in mind;
- Take the time to look inward and explore that wonderful soul of yours.
- Reaching out for help is an act of courage.
- Your time and energy is precious. Learn to set boundaries and say no.
- Surround yourself with the right (healthy) kind of tribe.
- A strong nutritional base will help heal and endure future stresses.
Allow yourself a little self-compassion for whatever it is you may be going through in life – struggling is normal and a beautiful part of our humanity as much as our ability to help each other.
Victoria Walsh is the voice behind Girl Gone Good, a little blog that grew out of the desire to embrace better health and explore the world in earnest. As a military veteran, she loved the adventurous life full of challenges, travel, and skydiving. Trading her combats boots for hikers, a love for mountains, wellness, and a small smoothie obsession emerged.
She is currently earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Ottawa.