My Failed Attempt at Slowing Down.
I read countless articles about running businesses. Especially since following Inc. Magazine on social media. It only takes a few swipes before I am barraged with a never ending stream of listicles telling me how to be a better me: 10 Things Successful People Do to Solve Their Daily Problems; 5 Smart Ways to Learn Faster; 4 Ways to Switch Up Your Daily Routine for More Energy and a Better Mood. It goes on and on. For the most part, I could tell you 80% of the list before I even read it.
Easier Said Than Done
Even though I know the information, it's not always easy to act on it. One common theme throughout all the articles I read, is to slow down and take time for yourself. Meditate in the morning, limit your screen time, turn off your email in the evenings. Easy in theory but following through has proven itself to be more difficult for me.
A typical morning for me goes something like this: I wake up and roll over to my phone and open my email. I know it's bad but I do it anyway because I don't want to miss anything important that happened while I was asleep. I get up and get ready for the day.
I get to the office and try and write down the things I need to do during the day and then I hit the ground running. I usually work through lunch because I forget to eat sometimes. Then I leave at the end of the day when I feel like I accomplished enough. After I get home, I'm still checking my emails and responding to work-related issues as they come up. I go to bed and do it all again the next day.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Despite reading several articles with some form of the title, "6 Things Successful Business People Do to Take Care of Themselves," I rarely stopped to follow their advice. I wish I could say it's because I'm such a hard worker and I push through when others give up. Unfortunately, it's because I have a hard time turning my brain off. It's been stuck business running mode for so long, I have a difficult time thinking about anything else. If I'm not thinking about my business, who is?
Crash and Burn
Enter adrenal fatigue. Our bodies are not designed to withstand the constant stimulation we subject them to every day. Your body's adrenal glands help maintain healthy hormone levels. They release a hormone called cortisol, giving you a shot of energy to help you through tough situations. Back in the caveman days, the adrenal glands only released cortisol when we needed to activate our fight-or-flight response. This happened when we needed to hunt food or stay alive by avoiding a predator.
Nowadays, things like family troubles, stress at work, and relationship problems are causing our adrenal glands to work overtime by releasing a constant stream of cortisol into our bodies. This wears our bodies out in many ways. It causes weight gain, anxiety, depression, body aches—the list goes on.
Because of my lack care for myself, I began crashing. I couldn't sleep through the night. I would wake up at 3 am with unshakeable anxiety. It made it hard to even go to sleep. I gained weight. I couldn't enjoy time with friends and family because my mind was always somewhere else.
I attempted to take a week off. I had big plans to slow down and disconnect for a few days. During this "week off," I worked from home every day and went into the office twice. It was a complete failure. I couldn't switch my brain off. I've become so accustomed to the constant need to be on the move, I couldn't get myself to stop. It actually made my symptoms worse.
A Little Every Day
Because of this failed attempt, I now understand the importance of slowing down on a regular basis. Going cold turkey can be difficult and seems to have had the reverse effect on me. Our bodies and minds need a balanced life and it's important for ourselves, our businesses, and everyone around us, that we pay attention and don't ignore what our bodies need. While my last attempt to slow down was a failure, I now know I need to focus more on slowing down a little every day and give my body the time it needs to recover.
Stress isn't a sign of weakness, it's your lungs telling you they want fresh air, your body telling you it needs rest and recuperation, and your mind screaming at you that it needs space.