After years of pushing myself to the limit, one day in 2009 I woke up and found that I couldn't get out of bed. My body wouldn't function.

I was in my mid 30s, running training companies in Singapore. I loved my job. I had a great time socialising, but I wasn't looking after myself. I was living in a lovely apartment, but I remember walking through the door one day and thinking, "I don't really live here, because I'm away so often".

I would send emails at 3am, then be up again at 6am. I was on a treadmill that I couldn't see was having an effect.

Looking back, there were signs I chose to ignore. I was three stone heavier than I am today; my joints ached constantly. I found it hard to sleep, although I was exhausted. On the fateful day my body refused to wake up, I was half-way through running a five-day training programme for executives. It took a week before I'd recovered enough to get up, but only when my boss said 'do you think you need a holiday?' did it seep in that I might not be well.

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I went on holiday to Cornwall. A week turned into three months. I had no contact with the outside world. Once a week, I'd travel to London to see a therapist. I slept more than I could ever imagine.

My experience isn't that unusual. The World Health Organisation predicts that work-related stress, burnout and depression will top the list of the world's most prevalent diseases by 2020. Increasingly, none of us can truly get away from the office - we check our phones on average 221 times a day.

via GIPHY

So I started Pause retreats as a way to help other people to recognise the signs of burnout. They're the same whether you're a mother ploughing through an impossible to-do list or negotiating a high-powered deal.

How close to burnout are you?

1. I am easily upset by small things

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

2. I often try to please others

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

3. I find it hard to breathe or breathe excessively

Often 2, sometimes 1, never 0

4. I feel impatient if I'm delayed

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

5. I often feel lonely

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

6. I feel refreshed when I wake up

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

7. I worry what others think of me

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

8. I wake naturally in the morning

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

9. I have quality time with friends

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

10. I worry about how things will turn out

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

12. I check my phone compulsively

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

12. I can turn my technology off at the weekend

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

13. I compare my life to the stories I read on social media

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

14. I feel I my life has purpose

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

15. I worry about money

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

16. I can let my mistakes go

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

17. I feel happy with my looks

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

18. I feel full of energy

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

19. I fall asleep on the sofa before bedtime

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

20. I dream of a different life

Often, score 2
Sometimes, score 1
Never, score 0

Your results:

• 0-10

If you scored 0 for many answers, you're taking good care of yourself and your emotions; perhaps you've developed practices for switching off. Look carefully at the questions you scored 1 or 2 for - now is the time to address areas of your life that feel overwhelming, frustrating or disappointing. It is not a case of 'fixing' these areas; but about asking yourself what you need and what you wish to give.

• 11-20 Sometimes, it's harder to pause when everything on the surface seems good, albeit with a nagging sense of unease. It feels selfish to complain, but you can't seem to stop worrying about what might go wrong, or you don't feel passionate about life any more. Take the chance to take a break, before things get ahead of you. Be ready to ask yourself uncomfortable questions, but recognise that these are key to opening up your horizons.

• 21-40 The signs are there for you: your body and/or your heart are showing you it's time to take better care of yourself, to give yourself a bit of space. It might be frightening to think of spending time alone, with no phone to check and only a blank page. But deep down, you know you need this, even if you fear pausing may be setting yourself up for more disappointment, confusion or heartache. Keeping going is the one thing that is keeping you from falling apart. It is important to be gentle with yourself as you pause and allow your life to slow down, to let what really matters to you come to the surface.

5 STRESS BUSTERS

Try these exercises - they're designed to help you discover what you need in order to be happier. Answers may not come instantly, but by allowing yourself to focus on the questions, you will make space to tap into your intuition.

A micro/macro walk

Take a walk and pay attention to your surroundings by zooming in and out between the vastness of the landscape and the tiny details. Go to the countryside, a park, or a river, and choose a path. As you walk, you might focus on the sky and then on a droplet of water on the edge of a leaf. Absorb the experience before moving your attention elsewhere.

Try a 'senses safari', focusing first on scents around you, then colours and finally sounds. Don't try too hard - let yourself tune into what's around you. Often when I ask people to do these walks, they start to become aware of metaphors for their situation.

Turn off, tune out

Find a place you are drawn to and sit for an hour without a watch, phone, pen or paper. Consider a question you've been struggling with. Let insights float in and out when they are ready.

We rarely experience being alone in this way any more. If an hour seems too much, try 20 or 30 minutes. Even if you don't find answers, you're allowing the question to engage with your intuition. What emerges may surprise you.

Make a mind map

Get a sheet of paper and a pen. Start off with yourself in a bubble at the centre of the page, then map your life into various areas. You might include family, work, travel, relationships, home, health, friends, creativity and spirituality.
Write down everything that works for you in each area. Some may be full while others remain empty. Maybe it's not your entire life that needs an overhaul. Consider the parts of your life that do work. What are the things that are worth keeping?

The no-limits letter

Take a blank page and write at the top 'what I want is . . .' Without thinking, allow yourself to fill at least two sides of paper with whatever words come out. Don't worry about it making sense.

When you have finished, put your letter to one side and sit for a moment. Breathe naturally and notice how you feel.

If any emotions arise, keep breathing and let them be present. Bypass your conscious mind and the 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts'. Find what your subconscious is trying to tell you.

Two-minute micro pauses

A hectic week may not offer time for long walks or exercises - but everyone can take a moment for a micro-pause.

Rebalancing

Stand by a window, allowing your attention to move out to the horizon. Breathe and let fresh perspectives come to you. Allow your eyes to relax. Stay here for a couple of minutes. Breathe in through your nose and down into your belly.

Destressing

That band of tension around your head isn't always stress; it can be dehydration. Keep a bottle of water with you and drink slightly more than you need.

Calming

Lavender is the perfect oil for your de-stress kit. Put a couple of drops in your palms, rub together, then inhale deeply.

Freeing

Block out 'white space' - time in your diary with nothing scheduled. Your brain and body aren't designed to jam too much information in each day. This is your time to spend as you wish.

Adapted by FLIC EVERETT from Pause: How To Press Pause Before Life Does It For You by Danielle Marchant (£12.99 Aster) published on June 29.