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On Burnout & Self Care

Well. What a month this has been!

As many of you will already know, I recently had a wonderful working holiday to Edinburgh during the madness that is the annual Fringe festival. Whilst I can absolutely see why the locals get fed up during this non-stop month, as a visitor I adored it. Everywhere becomes a performance space. Every street corner, every bridge, every small patch of pavement. The city is filled with music, dance and laughter. These little streets become as heaving as Oxford Street on a Saturday.

In the same way that you can never truly appreciate how romantic a city Paris is without immersing yourself in it, you can’t fathom the atmospheric beauty of Edinburgh until you’ve been. On our first night, after being warmly welcomed by some lovely clients, I took a solo walk across Waverley Bridge and looked back over at the stunning sight that is the buildings of Old Town, lit up with that soft orange glow, and just felt so very lucky to be there. Alone, with little goosebumps on my arms from a refreshingly chilly breeze I hadn’t felt in London for many weeks. Other nights would be packed with amazing shows, delicious food, and cocktails with one of my very best friends, which was utterly perfect, but there’s something very special about that first night away; about wandering alone, finding your feet, and decompressing.

For someone who provides companionship for a living, I appreciate time alone probably more than most. My introvert and extrovert sides are almost perfectly in balance, but both facets of me need nourishment. I feel almost perpetually torn between my need to be social, to be around people who invigorate and inspire me, and by my need to be alone. Often the latter is actively ignored as I find myself propelled, consumed by the energy of being around others – and this can lead to some pretty nasty burnout.

Unfortunately, that burnout caught up with me on my return home. I was on my way to a booking with a gorgeous couple and in my heightened state (read – really not paying attention) I managed to slip on the frankly treacherous streets of Soho in the rain (thanks to all of you who complained about the heatwave, just saying…), spraining my ankle badly enough that I had to reschedule the booking and take myself home. I was really upset – I was excited, and still feeling fired up from my trip away – but I had to concede. There was no way I could give my best (and with brand new clients, no less!) with a swollen foot I could barely stand on. I hopped (well, limped) into a cab and made my way grumpily home in the rain.

And honestly, as disappointed as I was, this might have been the best thing that could have happened.

This unfortunate injury forced me to spend an afternoon at home, alone, on my very own sofa after having been travelling almost constantly for a week. I hadn’t realised at all how tightly wound I was. I got myself settled down with an ice pack and a new book, and I sat in silence listening to the rain patter against the windows for hours. I can’t remember the last time I did that.

Self-care is important – and especially so for companions. However much we love it, what we do can be immensely draining without adequate breaks and rest. It’s easy to forget this because we are having so much fun! Had I not had my unfortunate (and highly embarrassing) tumble I would have continued with my day, had a fantastic time, but probably crashed very hard a day or two later.

Thankfully, I was able to reschedule with the clients (who were extremely caring and understanding about the whole thing), and I am now looking forward to seeing them at the end of the month instead.

Living in London is a double-edged sword; it’s an incredible city that affords us opportunities for work and play that are unlike anywhere else – but I have learned during my time here that rest times must be prioritised. Diarised, even. Without a colour block in my calendar saying ‘poppy, STOP!’ it would just never happen.

Listen to your body – or, like mine, it’ll make you listen eventually. Whilst we can’t always put self-care ahead of our responsibilities, there will always be moments in which we can choose to prioritise ourselves. We all work hard for the success we enjoy, but there’s no point in succeeding if you are too exhausted to appreciate it.

(And in case you were wondering, I am very much on the mend now and looking forward to being welcomed back to my own fair city properly – just don’t expect me to be standing in heels for too long!)

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