I’ve teetered on the edge and fallen off.
In my 20s, I was working full time, going to university, dating the wonderful man who soon became my husband, and partying my ass off. Sleep was an inconvenience. Fun was a priority. I also have one of those high-productivity, high-achiever personalities, continuously driven to do more and more. I was going Mach 3 and I had no idea what I was doing to myself.
Without seeing the signs, I was starting to break down.
First, it was my brain. I was forgetting things. I’d be driving somewhere and I’d forget where I was going, who I was meeting. I was juggling so many balls and trying to keep them all in the air, I couldn’t even notice when some dropped.
Then, my body started failing. I was fatigued. I wasn’t getting any sleep. I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.
Millions of people around the world are diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, a syndrome that results when your adrenal glands function below their necessary level. It’s commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress — and yes, juggling all those balls is stressful, even if you don’t see it at first.
Your body tries to tell you…and when your body starts failing, its like a big fat “I told you so”.
I consulted a naturopath and learned how to fuel my body with the right food and vitamins, sleep and water and on balancing the hormones that were now so out of whack. I went to counselling to manage the expectations I was setting for myself.
I got (what I thought was) a handle on it and hit cruise control, not realizing I was heading for trouble–again.
I was working as a Hospital Nursing Unit Clerk (contemplating nursing as a career) and running a home-based business selling lingerie at home parties (YUP–it’s how I discovered I loved to be in front of an audience!). I hit some big targets: Top 10 in sales in Canada, Top 10 in recruiting in Canada, become a Divisional leader, earning the trips, diamond rings,etc. After 5 years at this I was again working a huge amount of hours with no balance–and crashed again.
That’s what we do. We just string along without listening to our bodies or heeding the warning signs.
It’s just like getting sick. Anyone who’s had a chronic illness like pneumonia as a child will notice the symptoms whenever they start to get sick.
The chest pain. The sore throat. The coughing. It’s the bodies path of least resistance… and we all have them.
Stress is the same way. Your body talks to you all the time–you just have to learn to listen.
You have to hear your body saying “take care of me” (and preferably before it’s shouting at you). The same goes with your mind and your relationships.
I’m here to tell you self-care is not selfish.
You won’t avoid stress. It’s a reality of life. However, you can recognize the signs long before you hit burnout and build tools to help you manage it all along the way.