Burn-out, stress, anxiety and depression have become very common in our over-busy modern lives, but if you were advised to take six months off work for the sake of your health, would you do it?
This was a situation I faced over two years ago. I had been feeling stressed and physically exhausted for many years and my naturopath told me I had Adrenal Fatigue. She advised me to take six months off to rest and recover.
As I sat facing her I could not imagine how I could possibly take six months off – I owned a business, had wages to pay, a home and children to maintain.
Needless to say, I didn’t take her advice and chose to carry on working. But I was simply delaying the inevitable and I eventually paid a heavy price for not listening.
My physical exhaustion made the decision for me. I struggled to keep going, my brain became fuzzy and I suffered bouts of depression – something I’d never experienced before.
My adrenal system was burnt out. I had stopped making melatonin (which puts you to sleep at night), I had low serotonin levels (happy hormone) and high cortisol (stress hormone). This led to insomnia, constant exhaustion and mood swings.
My business began to suffer and I took a severe financial hit just when I should have been at the peak of my earning capacity. This fed into my depression, made me feel even worse and took me on a downward spiral.
Bouncing Back Off the Bottom
I did what most people do in this situation – I propped myself up with artificial stimulants like coffee, alcohol and hard-core exercise. I was running on empty and when I eventually took away the artificial stimulants I found myself sitting at the bottom of a dark place.
My brain seemed to stop working. I had always been proud of my thinking capacity so when this happened I was scared.
Depression was inevitable.
Power of Hindsight
In the end I had no option but to take time out to recover. I had to put myself first and while it certainly hasn’t been easy, I’m now grateful for what this experience taught me.
My depression was mild in the scheme of things but it has taught me a lot about mental health, which has enabled me to be a more empathetic and compassionate coach.
I also had to learn to ask for help, which was hard initially but I have developed much closer and more intimate connections with the people in my life.
My whole life has changed as a result of this experience. I have had to learn how to live differently, eat differently, exercise differently, think differently and even work differently. Having bounced back up off the bottom I’m living a cleaner and much healthier life.
We often ignore the signs that we need to make changes in our lives until we eventually have no choice. What signs are you not listening to?