Updated: Jun 30, 2018
What to do when work is making you sick.
When I found myself drowning in the demands of my highly stressful job, I thought I knew what to do. I thought I knew so many times and I was wrong so many times. My first thought was actually to push harder. Push harder, give more, and just get the job done. I would plan to rest and take care of myself or go on a vacation after the deliverable was met. My next thought was to push harder but in a different way. I was going to push harder into working out no matter what. So what, I wasn’t sleeping and I was working 60 hour weeks. I was going to push myself into the gym or better yet a fitness boot-camp so I could shed the pounds I was gaining due to emotional eating.
Then my body hit a brick wall and I just didn’t have any more push in me. The professional esteem and high regard that I had worked so hard to attain started to fall with my performance at work. At the age of 30 I had the aches and pains of an elderly person. I was always in pain and I’d learned how to play through the pain. I was not a stranger to body aches and tension headaches. My masseuse was practically trying to breakdown bricks that had formed as muscle knots in my back.
I was at a breaking point and something had to give. I could not afford to ignore my body in sacrifice to getting the job done anymore. Finally, I figured out that I had to make my health a priority, my body was demanding it. I had to make the time for sleep, eating well, hydrating, and working out. So, I got on a “health kick” and this worked for a while.
Two years and thousands of dollars later in medical bills, I got introduced to world of holistic wellness by what could only have been divine providence. I felt I had tried everything at the time. Health professionals started talking to me about my stressful lifestyle and how it was contributing to my physical symptoms. The thing I wish I’d known is that health is more than physical, it’s also emotional. It’s not just about what you’re eating and how you are moving but how you are thinking and feeling. I had been addressing the physical, but leaving my emotional health in the same state. What I know for sure is that only addressing your physical symptoms is not a sustainable health solution because it ignores the root cause of the problem. Emotional triggers create and impact our physical health and behaviors.
What I really needed was an emotional reset in which I took a hard look at why I was having such a hard time setting boundaries at work. Why was it so important to please my boss that I was willing to sacrifice my health and my life over and over again? Why were my needs always last on the list? I started to realize that my mood, my happiness, and my health were all dependent on whether or not my manager was pleased. My worth as a person was tied to my achievements and the approval of my manager, the company leadership team, and my colleagues. This is a dangerous place to be because you’ve given all your power to other people and it’s a no-win game. Think about some of the characters you work with, is that really who you want to be in charge of your happiness? Is that who you want in charge of your health? The first step to taking back your power is to bring a keen awareness to whom and how it’s been given away. As I did this, I started to realize that the safest place for my worth to reside was with me.
I was able to successfully restore my health and continue to work in my career by focusing on taking small steps forward in my physical and emotional health. If you have found yourself in a similar situation, the first thing you want to do is start to carve out space for you to work on your holistic health. It means scheduling and holding time as sacred for you. To be successful at anything you need to take the right actions, have the right support and accountability. I’ve had coaches along the way to support and hold me accountable to reaching my next level. Finally, you want to actively guard your thoughts by remembering that although you are struggling right now, good can come from any situation. In fact, I chose my next career from the experience of struggling with stress induced illness and not knowing where to turn. As a result of having that experience and coming out on the other side with more vitality, I became a health and performance coach so that I could help other people on their journey to holistic wellbeing. If you could use some understanding and support so you don’t make some of the same mistakes I made – and you want to begin making powerful changes to reclaim your health before it’s too late – I invite you to join my mailing list or follow me on Instagram where I offer free tips. Plus I offer free strategy sessions when you’re serious about making some real changes.
by Monique Jackson
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