It’s been quite a while since I last posted anything…and that’s because I’ve had to take a time out from many of my regular activities to recover from some health issues. I let life and the stress of doing too much compromise my health, and my body reacted by developing shingles.
For those who are unfamiliar with this virus, it is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once you’ve had chicken pox, the virus remains dormant within your body, specifically in the nerve endings. When the immune system is compromised by stress, injury, or some other cause, the virus can be reactivated and manifests as a painful, itchy rash on one side of the body. I was fortunate that mine was fairly mild and was limited to several spots on my left leg. It felt mostly like a bad muscle pull with occasional sharp pain. I was also very fatigued, almost like I had the flu without a fever.
I put on the brakes for several weeks while I rested, napped daily, and let others help me with everyday activities so that I could manage the pain and allow my body to heal. I also made sure that I ate an anti-inflammatory diet and took some nutritional supplements to support my immune system.
I’m doing much better, but it was a very clear warning to me that I had not been taking proper care of myself, especially regarding my levels of stress.
I thought that I managed stress fairly well, but a series of unique situations with higher-than-usual pressure crept up on me, and it wasn’t until I got sick that I realized that I had not been taking enough time for sleep, rest, relaxation, and ME. I was busy taking care of my family, trying to build my business, and helping out others, and I didn’t realize that my immune system had weakened. I ignored the fatigue I had felt for a couple of months and just kept up with the same breakneck schedule. I looked at friends and colleagues and tried to do what they were doing.
But the reality was, and still is, that my life is unique to me, just as my strengths and limitations are unique to me. I can’t, nor should I try to, do it all (whatever that means).
Having shingles has forced me to reevaluate my life: my routines and habits, the activities I commit to, and how much sleep I get. I have decided to take a break from some commitments, discontinue others, and mindfully choose how much and what to do each day. These decisions, plus the help and support of my family and friends, have started shaping a new normal for me. I don’t want to experience a rebound of shingles, and I don’t want to further compromise my health by pushing my body and mind beyond what is reasonable or beneficial.
I share this with you so that you will understand my (temporary) absence from this blog and social media, but also so that you can think about your own life and stress level. I recently wrote a post for the 21-Day Sugar Detox blog about managing stress–it was written with myself in mind and was inspired by all the thoughts and feelings I’ve had about getting shingles and trying to manage stress better.
I think we can all take more time each day to step back, consider our lives, and mindfully unwind from all the stress and tension that exists at work, at home, and in society in general. There are so many ways to manage stress, from meditative practices to physical movement to participating in enjoyable activities and more. I offer you my best wishes for finding the ways that work for you. Here’s to a life of less stress (or at least more mindful management of whatever stress is unavoidable)!
As Americans in a modern world, we experience many types of stress: the societal stress of a fast-paced life, the physical stress of environmental toxins, the emotional stress of challenging relationships and others’ expectations of us, and the stress that we put on ourselves to be, look, and do better than those around us. We believe that we can and should do it all, and instead of taking a time-out to relax and unwind, we push harder by exercising more, sleeping less, and relying on caffeine and sugar to get us through the day. Just the thought of it all makes my heart race and my muscles tighten!
All of this stress is wearing us out! High stakes deadlines, overly busy schedules, insufficient sleep, inadequate nutrition: all this pressure, pressure, pressure is impacting our health and happiness, and it’s a very significant piece of the puzzle when we are looking at creating healthful, happy lives.
While many of the stressors in our lives are out of our control, many of them can be adjusted, eliminated, or rethought so that they are no longer contributing to this overwhelming sense of pressure. And when the circumstances of our lives cannot be changed (at least in the short term), we can take some steps to be kinder to ourselves and unwind.
Read the rest here.