A Day In The Life

"Burnout and stress are dealt best with lifestyle changes" - Siobhan Murray

Siobhan Donohoe

Reporter:

Siobhan Donohoe

Email:

siobhan.donohoe@kilkennypeople.ie

Day In The Life Kilkenny

Siobhan Murray

Let me introduce you to Siobhan Murray, a Resilience, Burnout and Stress Coach, Expert Psychotherapist and Best-Selling Author of The Burnout Solution.
Siobhan has helped people globally reignite their self-worth, build resilience, combat burnout and grow into their full potential.
I first heard about Siobhan on the Ryan Tubridy Show last November as she discussed her 13 years of sobriety, which started out for just a dry November.
Her story was so inspiring that I had to get to know this woman and work with her in some shape or form. I started one-to-one coaching with Siobhan straight away and I haven’t looked back. She also inspired me to have my own dry November, which I surprisingly enjoyed - so much so that I am going on the dry again for January and February.
Everyone could do with a Siobhan Murray in their life at the moment, especially in these uncertain times.
Here is a glimpse into Siobhan’s world…
Siobhan you have worked in the music industry and in the corporate world. Your life is fascinating - so how did you end up as a resilience couch?
I always say I’ve had the most eclectic career to date, but if someone had told me in my twenties that I would end up as a psychotherapist and coaching people I would have laughed.
I was struggling at school, feeling worthless and downright miserable. So without my parents’ consent I left school before my Leaving Cert.
Not doing my Leaving Cert made me feel like I had to prove myself twice as much as everyone else. My career in the music industry happened by complete chance. I worked for MCD concerts in Dublin, back in the day where you wore 10 different hats and did lots of different things. From there, I moved to London, where I thought the streets were paved with gold!
After temping in almost every single record company in London, I ended up working for Sony Records and then for drum and bass artist Goldie and Elton John.
Eventually I returned to Dublin where I set up the Ronald McDonald House charity in Crumlin Hospital.
When the house was built I remained working for McDonald’s but entered the corporate side of their business and completely burnt out.
I found out that I was not ‘corporate’. I’m creative, I was so mismatched for what I was doing. The façade of keeping a career, two kids as a solo parent and a mortgage going eventually burnt me out.
I did a night course in psychotherapy and the trainer advised me straight away that I should do a degree in it. I did, and set up my own private practice, where I always want to help people not to sit in their past, but to move forward. Maybe because of my two boys, I wanted them and the people I work with to embrace the world. So I went on to study life coaching.
You do talk a little about’ imposter syndrome’ because of not completing your Leaving Cert. This ultimately led you to drinking a lot.
Totally and I will give you a simple example. I was engaged to a guy in London and we were out with his friends.
Everyone was chatting, getting to know one another and they were chatting about being in college in UCD and Trinity. They asked me where I went to college and my response was ‘get me another drink there now!’.
I was always work driven. Even from the age of 14, I had a job in the local sweet shop after mass. I always had a very strong work ethic but I didn’t see that as a positive, I couldn’t own the fact that I didn’t go to college and went straight into the working world.
My way of dealing with these type of situations and pressure was with alcohol. On nights like that in the bar in London with my fiancé’s friends I was mortified, I felt like an imposter. I was on a steady path of masking myself and finding solace at the end of a bottle.
You decided to knock drinking on the head 13 years ago on November 1, 2007. What was the catalyst?
At age 39, my life wasn’t where I thought it would be! I was in a high stress corporate career. Single mum to two young boys. Confidence was at an all-time low. I was drinking to the point of personal and professional disaster.
I struggled just to get out of bed, and I had two young children to be there for every single day.
Every morning, I would wake up with the same feelings of stress and overwhelm. However, every evening before I picked the boys up from the crèche, I also picked up two bottles of wine. I thought I was functioning fine on wine, by 9pm every evening all the chores were done, kids fed and watered, washing and ironing, lunches on the table for the next day, along with the two empty bottles of wine.
I was completely burnt out. I knew if I wanted to win at parenting and providing for my family, something had to change. I didn’t want to lie all day on the couch on a Saturday.
I wanted to change - I just didn’t know what to do.
So I started with one small change, I quit drinking alcohol.
It was my biggest game changer in taking personal responsibility for my life. To start making the behavioural changes I needed to step out of the way of my own BS.
So how did your bestselling book The Burnout Solution and documentary come about?
That happened two years ago in January 2019.
Simultaneously as I was writing the book, I was also working on a TV documentary ‘Stressed’, a two part documentary with Science Ireland on how to reduce stress in people without medical intervention.
The five volunteers were shown life skills, such as mindfulness, journalling and therapy instead of giving them a pill and telling them they will be grand. Burnout and stress are dealt best with lifestyle changes, not by popping pills.
The book, on the other hand, brings people on a 12-week programme to help them understand how they have ended up burnt out and what behaviours they can change to prevent it from happening again.
Working from home in pandemic is a lot different from working from home normally. How can we do better at it?
Well I think it’s funny because before we started this interview Siobhan, you asked me to hold on so you could put a little note on the outside of your door, so the kids don’t interrupt!
We need to bear in mind that we are not perfect, we are not robots and neither are our families.
However if you were working in an office (away from home) you have your office tribe/family and these people are very respectful if they see you are on a call at your desk - they will leave a note or come back later.
Our family do not treat us like that. Our family, for those of us who have been remote working for the past 10 months, have become our new work tribe.
So the boundaries for our families have to change. Otherwise we are literally going to be snappy heads, because kids don’t care if you are on the phone to our boss or mother, they just want our attention. I’m convinced they nearly sense when you are on the Zoom or phone call!
By doing what you did, putting the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door helps, but the big thing is to communicate what that means to our new office tribe.
Tell them when that note is on the door, you do not disturb me unless someone has fallen down the stairs. They have to learn how to respect the boundaries.
You don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Why?
We put so much pressure on ourselves to lose weight or to get fitter. Why? Just because it’s the New Year? Well, that’s not going to last.
Instead I pick one word every year, for example, the word contentment - I ask myself if I am content with the exercise I am doing, or content with the life I am living.
It’s simply about finding a word that you can hold onto, so in six months’ time you can keep checking in on your word and see if it’s working for you. My word for 2021 is important.
Siobhan Murray will be starting a five-week live coaching course on January 27. She will teach people how they can be their best in the day that they have got. For more information visit www.twistingthejar.com
Listen to our full interview on ‘Kilkenny People Newspaper’ You Tube channel. Happy New Year to you all!