As we learn the lessons one virus unleashes across every aspect of human life; we mostly focus on the disease itself, and its economic impact. As the pursuit of solutions strives to meet complex needs there is focus on regaining the familiar. Often such efforts are met with a gentle reminder that one cannot turn the clock back. The world changed. We can only move forwards.
We continue to adapt to change in our personal and professional lives as the band-with of our clarity is gently squeezed. We cannot work as fast as we once did. In the health care sector (particularly state funded systems) were running at 110% capacity. Now, we attempt to do the same/increasing work load, and catch up a back log at a slower speed. COVID safety mandates a change in pace, and obligingly provides a rumbling landscape of unknowns where the global pool of resources has not dramatically changed. Unless we can reduce the inflow of ill health into the system we are destined for collapse. The question is when, not if.
As a doctor I begin with the health care sector first; however COVID 19 like an aggressive cancer spreads and consumes without discrimination. The impact leaves thousands without the basic human needs of food, shelter, health care, and education. The heart wrenching reality of loss; loss of life, hope, and human dignity call for an acknowledgement that we as a collective did not get it right. I say collective as I think blame does not help anyone. We belong to an Earth; one which has a vastness of resource and opportunity that belongs to all of life. Along with that inheritance comes a responsibility to realign and recognise where we might start to heal as a whole.
Long before disease hits, often there are warning signs that all is not well. Fatigue, poor sleep, and a loss of that spark the complete human had. Looking around me today I see an elephant in the room; i.e.fatigue. Fatigue is better known as Burn-Out. As we struggle to meet the varying needs of ourselves, our families, loved ones, and our working lives the bandwidth we have to take a step back, re-evaluate, and realign to something better is lost in the whirl pool of survival. Almost every friend and colleague (even the most organised) has screamed at some point as they have been pushed to the limit.
What have we done about it ?
There is an urgent need for us as a human race at the level of the individual, family, organisation, and nation to look at Burn-Out in the eye. To re-evaluate expectation, and the way in which we do things. If we put people first results will surely follow. If we look at our systems with fresh perspective there is a serendipity of possibility beneath the chaos.
How do we access it? We need to create a gap between ourselves and our exhausted response to situations. One of the simplest tools to do this is our breath. It costs nothing, it is yours for life, and has a cascade of changes in your body which will optimise your health. Mastering this ancient art will allow us as a human race to build resilience, reconnect with ourselves, the environment and find joy again.
It's time to heal burn out. Breathe for life.
One of the most powerful tools to heal burn out is breath-work. In ancient times the art of breathing lay a foundation for wellness and joyful experiences.
The wisdom of this bygone era was replaced by lattes, espresso, and red-bull until a pesky virus brought home a harsh reality that breathing could no longer be taken for granted. It could no longer just happen while we lived our lives with an aspiration of better tomorrows.
Perhaps it is the images of our beautiful human faces being covered by masks, the absence of smiles, humans struggling to breathe, health care workers sharing their tears of loss on the front line, or air pollution that cleared up with lock downs that unveiled some inconvenient truths.
Our breath became priceless.
When COVID 19 changed my life, I needed to find a way that made sense. In my loneliness and isolation I reconnected and re-discovered wisdom I first learnt from my grand-mother i.e. The Yogic Art of Breathing; Pranayama.
As a sufferer of lung disease it is even more poignant that my breath helped me to re-invent myself, find new meaning in life, and happiness.
It can do the same for you too.