I am writing this out of suggestion. I recently took three flights in four days. Each day I had a big meeting or event to attending while away. I think I slept two nights gone and barely recouped from the month of hard work prior to leaving. Needless to say, I was beyond exhausted when I arrived back to New York City. But I had no clue exactly how exhausted I was. I kept thinking to myself, “I am fine, I can handle it”.
The scary reality hit when I was walking to the gym and I felt all the blood rush to my feet and I saw flashes of me about to fall down. I intuitively knew if I kept walking I was seconds away from fainting. I turned away from the busy intersection and sat down on a cement fence with my head between my legs. I never in my life felt that sensation before where I had no control over my body and it felt like I was about to topple over.
I knew it has been a stressful time, in fact this entire year has been one of the most stress-inducing years I’ve ever lived, but I had no idea how much it was taking a toll on my physical health. I often think I am a robot that can handle mounds of work, stress, and endure the hardest schedules. But reality is, I am human and I am not built to defy the odds. I need sleep, I need peace, I need relaxation and down time. So why is it so difficult to take care of myself when I know this is what I need?
For me it is two parts. One part fear and one part culture. In America, time off it not something handed to you. Especially as an entrepreneur. You work hard for vacations, and then often work on those well-earned vacations. It is something I grew up around and saw in my own family.
The other part, fear, is universal. Afraid of falling behind, afraid of not being able to pay bills, afraid of not doing enough, afraid of not performing or contributing the best you can. The list goes on. For me this is can be crippling. I often lose sight of my intuition of what is best for the situation. I eventually cannot compete with my own standards and feel like a failure. I crash and then become even more afraid. But the moment I decide to let go of being afraid, things shift for the better.
My experience with fear and being afraid is that it brings a cloud or clutter around my thinking where I can’t see straight. I am so lost in the fear I forget about reality. When I remove the fear and remind myself “Everything is going to be okay,” I can breathe again. I can hear my intuition guiding me, and I can see clearly what actually needs to happen. Often what needs to happen is for me to be kind and gentle to myself. Stop judging myself, stop berating myself or pushing myself to do more when I am literally about to collapse.
Yes, I still have to deal with societies judgment of taking time off to rest. I really wish we didn’t have to face that extra ounce of pressure and judgment when we are taking care of ourselves, and maybe one day that will change. But every time I take a moment for my own health, I know I am much stronger for it. I am happier for it, I am healthier for it, I am a better person all around because of it.
What prevents you from taking care of yourself? How do you achieve balance around stressful situations? Let me know in the comments below!
Photo by Krista McPhee