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From Statistic to Self-care: Overcoming Burnout

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Sandra Foreman reflects on overcoming burnout through self-care and why she started The Spa in Me, which helps other women prioritize self-care and self-love.

By Sandra Foreman, Photo by Richard Martinez

There was no dramatic moment when my burnout began. Instead, it happened gradually during a period of years.

I have devoted a significant portion of my life to academia and working. Although law school prepared me to become a lawyer, the curriculum failed to mention rest, recovery and overall well-being. For years, I worked excessively while sacrificing my health in the process.

I embraced being a wife and mother. As a working parent of two sons with a husband who has an equally demanding career, I lived in a constant state of movement. With no signs of slowing down, and without knowing any other way to exist, I thrust myself into this busy lifestyle. However, when my sons’ activities decreased as they got older, I felt lost. For the first time in my adulthood, I had moments of stillness. I had no hobbies. I exercised inconsistently. I didn’t know how to counter the burnout and stress.

This realization was my awakening. I changed my lifestyle to carve out time for myself to better manage my stress. I stopped working weekends and long hours. I limited the number of pro bono cases I accepted. I used my free time to explore various activities. This exploration eventually helped me to live with more clarity and ease.

I enjoyed activities that helped me to slow down, quiet my mind and spend time outdoors. I discovered spas, hiking trails, yoga and even completed yoga-teacher training. I also won a bodybuilding competition in the masters bikini category. I started to feel less guilty when spending time away from my family or when hibernating in my personal cave at home. I understood that how I cared for myself had the potential to influence my children in how they should also respond to their own self-care needs.

I learned lawyers rank high in the rate of suicide among various professionals. Although I am fortunate to live in Austin, a city robust with health and wellness options that I can easily access, I could have easily become a statistic had I not found my way out of the burnout I experienced. Not everyone is so fortunate.

I founded The Spa in Me to help other women make self-care an ongoing practice in their careers and motherhood. We do this by offering an annual one-day retreat in an outdoorsy and remote area near Austin. Women are introduced to self-care practices they can easily implement at home, such as listening to music, journaling, yoga, nature walks, eating nutritious food and simply being still. We also offer a scholarship to one woman to attend the retreat and to stay in the lodging on-site.

We also created Dear Cousin Kay, a self-care advice podcast. Women write letters seeking advice using anonymous names. The podcast is a great way for women to realize they aren’t alone in their struggles to prioritize their needs in the midst of competing responsibilities.

Next month, we will start a monthly board-game night for women to gather and play Sparked, a game created to spark laughter, conversation, connectivity and community.

I’m proud that I’ve helped women to include self-care in their lives. However, until women instinctively embrace their own worth, there is still so much more work to do. I invite any woman interested in finding self-care tools that might work best for them to connect with The Spa in Me. You can find us at thespainme.com.

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