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Former Pudsey headteacher’s stress and burnout tips

By Amy Downes

UK workers are feeling stressed and close to burnout – and a Farsley wellbeing coach is warning it may be down to a phenomenon called the ‘Self-Development Trap’.

According to research conducted by Westfield Health, close to half (46%) of UK workers are close to burnout and more than three-quarters (79%) of the respondents have considered leaving their current job due to stress.

Despite this, according to LinkedIn, a huge number of people (74% of their users) are currently investing in new skills to improve their prospects and combat the potential effects that the cost-of-living crisis could have on their careers. 

Farsley business-woman Clare Downham has warned this pressure to keep developing can all too often become the cause of stress and burnout, and she’s sharing her own experiences to help others avoid the low point she reached because of the ‘Self-Development Trap’.

“I always seemed to have a ‘shopping list’ of things I wanted to improve about myself, and I never got to the end of it. Just as I felt better about one area of my life, something else would rear its ugly head and I would be off again; seeking therapeutic help, reading books and trying to feel okay again.”

Then things escalated.

“I had always been busy, but I reached a new level of busy when I ended my 17-year marriage. I went out nightclubbing, I turned to alcohol for relief, I threw myself into online dating. And I did all this whilst still holding down my job as a headteacher.” 

Even with all these activities, Clare still wasn’t happy. 

“It was just an ordinary Tuesday when I arrived at school, but the years of frustration, stress and lack of self-care finally became too much. That was the day I didn’t even have the motivation to bend down and switch on my computer.”

Clare walked out of her job as headteacher at a Pudsey school and made her way to the local medical centre, where she was diagnos ed with depression. It was a shock, but she realises now that she had been experiencing burn out.

“After 12 months of being signed off sick from work, I resigned from my 20-year career and trained as a hypnotherapist, a coach and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner. I loved helping people to become the best versions of themselves.”

It soon became clear that many of her clients were experiencing the same Self-Development Trap that she had, so she created a free service to help with that: ‘Five Simple Truths to Take You Closer to Calm’.

“If you don’t know you are stressed out, you might not know to do anything about it,” Clare added. “Once you are aware that you might be on the path to burnout, you have an opportunity to start learning about stress and start to feel better.”

The free document is on her website.


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