Want to avoid burnout? Co-founder Christie Whitehill shares her story
Trying to juggle it all? Our Co-founder Christie Whitehill shares her personal burnout story.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since my early 20’s. I look back and I am ashamed to admit that I was working 12, sometimes 14-hour days in the early days. I had adopted the hustle mentality that the startup industry held as a badge of honour. Little did I know that this hustle mentality could do a lot of damage.
All the signs of burnout started before I fell pregnant with my second child Ava. At the time I wasn’t eating right or getting enough sleep. I was working on adrenaline trying to juggle it all while having a baby in tow.
The first big sign came during the pregnancy with Ava. I had developed something called Pupps – an itchy hormonal rash that lasted 5 months of the pregnancy.
1 in 300 women get Pupps and they say the only cure is to have the baby. If you have had chickenpox or any type of eczema you may understand how crazy the itch would have made you. I’m someone who had all the mindset tools to deal with something like this but, I definitely had moments of despair.
I had panic attacks from the overwhelming itch and the mental fatigue of trying to stay calm and trying to stop the itch with different remedies.
By the end, I just wanted the baby out. I was in tears most days and I felt disconnected from her. I was diagnosed with pre and postnatal depression and I remember thinking at the time why is this happening to me? And just praying this experience was part of a bigger plan. Which thankfully it was. But even with the crazy itch I had worked right up until Ava’s birth, partly because I needed to keep my mind busy from the itchiness and partly because the overachiever in me could not permit myself to stop.
So when COVID came along at the beginning of 2020, this was the permission I needed to stop and take some real time out. However, with a newborn and a toddler rest isn’t always easy and about 6 months after Ava was born I started to become even more symptomatic.
Fatigue, brain fog, light sensitivity, sore tummy, food sensitivities, and anxiety just to name a few of my symptoms. Before falling pregnant with Ava I had been ignoring all the little warning signs and had not been in the practice of listening to my body until it was too late. After many tests, it turned out I had: candida overgrowth, parasites, leaky gut and SIBO. For those who haven’t heard what SIBO is. It stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
SIBO is a complex condition that occurs when an excessive number of bacteria colonise the small intestine. Everyone who has SIBO will have a different trigger as to what causes it so it makes it a tough condition to treat. There can be many causes of SIBO, but one of the major contributors is prolonged stress. For me, after years of prolonged stress from the hustle, burnout and pregnancies this health crisis was the wake-up call I needed to make a big change.
Over the past 3 years, I have overhauled my diet, my lifestyle, and worked with naturopaths, doctors, health practitioners and healers to get my body back to homeostasis. I made getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night a number one priority. I started practising meditation and yoga more regularly to help me to tune into what my body was needing. More importantly, giving myself permission to take time out for self-care.
I tried many different tools to support my busy lifestyle. One of the tools that helped my healing alongside a healthy diet was supplements. Magnesium I took every night without fail to support my nervous system and saw a dramatic improvement in my ability to cope with stress and get a more restful sleep.
My naturopath had also recommended I take collagen to help with gut healing and through taking this supplement consistently I noticed a huge change in my skin. It looked more hydrated and the fine lines around my eyes were less visible.
Prior to discovering collagen, I would spend a lot of money on my skincare and when I saw the skin results I was getting from just taking a single supplement like collagen, I ditched some of the expensive creams and now only have two products I use on my skin. One being Glory Oil and sunscreen.
By 2021 I was starting to heal and I had been thinking about starting my next venture in the health space, especially after experiencing burnout and the health challenges that I overcame. I just didn’t know what it looked like yet. But what I did know is that I didn’t want any other women to experience what I had been through.
Anna and I have been friends for around 9 years and we were out walking one day and were talking about the products we use and our love of magnesium. Anna, took magnesium religiously after her obstetrician recommended it during her pregnancy to help her sleep. We both were taking multiple supplements for both health and beauty benefits and this conversation sparked a lightbulb moment for both of us.
We started to research the market and we interviewed over 20 women to understand where the problems were with taking supplements.
The biggest insights we uncovered from these interviews were:
- Knowing which supplements to take with what was confusing
- Most good quality supplement powders don’t taste great
- They were taking multiple supplements and wanted more from the one product
- Taking supplements can be a chore or you forget to take them
- Getting a more restful sleep was highly requested
Through the research, it became clear where the gap was in the industry and INTU WELLNESS was born. Everything we did to create the brand was intentional and research-backed and stems from this question we asked ourselves… how can we make looking after your health and skin from the inside out more convenient, effective, trustworthy and fun, for as many people as we can?”
We spent a year doing research and development and found our manufacturer here in Australia. Our amazing formulator who has a PhD in Naturopathy worked with us to design our first product Sleep & Skin Renewal. We wanted to start with sleep for our first product because sleep really is the foundation of good health. When you get good quality sleep it helps to rest your mind, body and skin.
Our goal for this product was that we wanted the highest quality ingredients, it had to taste great and remove the need to purchase multiple products to get great results.
The goal we want for our customers and community is to help you feel awake as the alarm goes off, energised to take on the day and confidence in your own skin.
So as you start the new year. Stop and take some time to check in with yourself and your body. Don’t ignore any of the warning signs of burnout. Here are my top tips to get you started:
- Good health is the foundation you need to achieve your goals
- Take time out to tune into what your body is telling you it needs.
- Do you need more sleep? Are you feeling dehydrated? What is your skin telling you?
- Some ways you can tune in daily, are breathwork, yoga, meditation, pilates, going for a walk, and taking a bath.
- If you’re symptomatic don’t ignore the signs even the small ones
- Get some tests done with a health practitioner to check in with where your body is at. Are you lacking in certain nutrients like magnesium? Your practitioner will be able to help you to identify what products are right for you.
- Choose healthy foods that fuel your body. Ditch sugar. If you’re sensitive to gluten and dairy, ditch it. Create a food diary to learn which foods help you to feel great and which don’t. Work with a dietitian who can help you create a diet that works for you.
- Get a support network of like-minded people. Surround yourself with people who want you to be your best and encourage it.
- Educate yourself. Education is empowerment.