Burnout: How 5 days disconnected from the world changed my life

Couple looking out over rainforest from net hammock
Exploring the world helped Hayley reset

After the pandemic, I was engulfed in burnout. At 33,I felt exhausted and stressed daily and was in constant survival mode both professionally and personally.

I was running my PR business alone, working hard with no boundaries, and felt incredibly overwhelmed and constantly drained. My mental health suffered and my anxiety was causing me to make impulsive, often bad decisions that made me feel worse. I was in a toxic cycle and I couldn’t see past it.

My burnout had cut me off from everything. I was putting all my energy into my business; I didn’t have anything left for anything else. I was demotivated, uninspired and uninterested and I became all about work.

I had lost my identity. And it wasn’t just me. My husband was fed up, feeling neglected and having to deal with all the negative energy I was constantly expressing.

My nan’s passing in 2021 stopped me in my tracks. I was overcome with grief, but for the first time in forever, I was able to take a step back, take a breath and see things from a different perspective.

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My business was doing great, but the current price for success wasn’t something I was willing to pay anymore. I was ill and both my husband and I needed a break from the madness.

So, we decided to quit our jobs and pack up our lives in the UK and travel the world. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. It took several therapy sessions to help me through the process. It was the scariest, but the best decision I have ever made.

Woman on a branch on the beach
Exploring the world helped Hayley recover from burnout

We left in September 2021 and had been travelling for almost a year before we decided to go to South America. We started in Croatia, then travelled to Turkey, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, more of Turkey and Bulgaria.

South America had always called to me and is a place that had always inspired me, so when we were planning the next stage of our trip, South America made sense.

Woman in a mud bath in Ecuador
Hayley spent time in Ecuador

We started in Costa Rica, Central America, for one month and then for five months we travelled and explored Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Bolivia ending our journey with five days in the Amazon Rainforest.

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Our time in the Amazon Rainforest

The journey into the Amazon was transformative. We stayed in eco-lodges, switching off for five days without phone signal or wi-fi. I was a little apprehensive about immersing myself in nature so fully and completely switching off, but I was also excited to see what I would discover.

Woman in the Amazon
Hayley felt transformed by the Amazon

Struggles in the rainforest

The Amazon certainly tested my tenacity, with hours-long hikes through the jungle, but the main concern was the rain.

It was the tailend of the rainy season, so heavy rains were a worry but we only had one afternoon with a total downpour. Though a relief, our activities were pushed back, stopping us from reaching the intended campsite.

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This led to a five-hour hike to an overnight makeshift camp in the mud, which was scary. We had to keep the fire burning to keep the jaguars away and I almost stepped on a scorpion. But all in the name of adventure and the magical moments more than made up for it.

The rain was a profound moment for me, though. One time it was raining heavily and I simply stood outside in it, closed my eyes and cried. For the first time in a long time, I felt that I had truly let myself go.

What I learned about myself in the rainforest

The entire South American journey was a catalyst for long-lasting change. It was fitting that it ended in the Amazon.

Woman lying on the ground in the desert
Hayley reconnected with herself while exploring the world

Over time, I learned to appreciate life and the experiences it provides and how to be open to them.

Healing from burnout was the most profound experience - I felt myself getting stronger, gaining more energy and my confidence grew. I was also managing my anxiety and I had rediscovered my creativity and love for writing and poetry.

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The isolation and challenging conditions of the rainforest taught me that I have inner strength and resilience and it also taught me to let go.

If something isn’t working, it isn’t supposed to and everything is temporary, so make the most of what you have, when you have it and don’t stress over what you can’t control.

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Since this trip, I have learned to set healthy boundaries, I’m making better choices for myself, my relationship is thriving and so is my new PR and marketing agency BE YELLOW, which envelopes all of my new values.

I am still travelling, but a lot slower and I try to choose places where I can connect to nature in one way or another. Meditation and somatic healing have become regular practice and my intuition has become my spirit guide. Soon, I will return to the Amazon rainforest, as she has so much more to teach me.

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