“Right through my 20s I scheduled one night a month to watch TV at home. It was non-negotiable. Otherwise it didn’t happen.”
I’m saying this to a new friend in Vanuatu, where we moved three weeks ago. To explain why this otherwise healthy looking person is in bed pretty much every night by 8pm. And is still tired every minute of the day.
Always so bloody tired!
All because I burnt the candle at both ends for too long.
Going through university, I studied a diligent 45-55 hours per week. I worked 30 hours per week as a waitress, and later as assistant manager of a camping store. I was also president of the mountaineering club – and went away every second weekend caving, kayaking, canyoning or bushwalking. AND was highly social with my partner, friends and family.
Needless to say sleep was an optional extra.
Once I graduated I was promoted from one Flight Centre to another, building a business in each new location. I loved the busyness, with people queued out the door for our services. I thrived on the commission structure and reward opportunities. I lived on what I called ‘positive stress’. I was often kicked out by security guards not interested in protecting a single female in a deserted shopping centre at 1 or 2am. And was back before 7am. I moved to each new job by the most circuitous route possible, from Australia to Canada via Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Equador. And back via China, Mongolia, Tibet and Nepal.
I now know my body did not interpret this as a positive stress. I have Adrenal Fatigue and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I’ve written about these conditions HERE and HERE, check it out if you have, might have, or know someone with these concerns, to better understand symptoms and ways to help heal.
Why am I sharing my story? Two reasons.
Firstly, to be clear in my own mind where I went wrong, and what I can do to improve things now – and not make the same mistakes again. Much easier in theory than in practice.
Secondly, to plant seeds of ‘another way’ in the minds of others hurtling through a full life at high speed. Could this be you?
Imagine yourself as a sleek new car with five gears. Do you spend all your time in 5th gear? Might it be better to alter the pace? Sometimes cruising? Occasionally in overdrive? Regularly in park?
Despite knowing this to be true, it’s taken me years to put this knowledge into place. For the first year after medical diagnosis, I made dramatic changes to my diet, cleaning up a better-than-average diet to a more nutritious one, eliminating inflammatory foods (for me) such as grains and dairy. In the second year, given negligible improvement to my health, I moved to gentle, non-competitive forms of exercise, reduced my working hours, took regular digital ‘detoxes’ and limited alcohol to a few drinks per week. This year I’ve had to up the ante. Extra items have popped up on food intolerance tests, including grapes (bye bye wine), cashews, malt, sulfites (farewell remaining processed foods including most dried fruits) and apple cider vinegar. And I still feel like crap most waking hours.
But on the plus side, I’m reading lots of books. I’m getting to yoga, rather than just planning to. I’m happy when it’s school pick up time, pleased with whatever I achieved in my work day.
I’m feeling much calmer now that I’ve pared my life back to the essentials, no longer rushing from one place to another.
I’m more present.
I’m more balanced.
And strangely enough, I feel more sexy. Despite being more, um … curvaceous … from being too tired to exercise.
I’m more sure of what I want.
And how to get there.
I want to feel these four things.
Do you take time to think how you wish to feel?
And just as importantly, is your week full of things that get you closer to feeling that way?
Mine is now. It’s only taken me 43 years. What about you? I’d love to hear.