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Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Busy-ness the New Addiction?

Even professional athletes have to take breaks from their workouts to recover. I wouldn't put myself in the  category of a professional athlete, but I can attest to the need for recovery. For the past four months, I've been trying to recover and it's the toughest thing I've done in a while.

That sounds lame when I read it out loud. But, it's true. I have adrenal fatigue and I'm learning that means I have to slow down and recover from my need to be busy.

I used to say these things on a fairly regular basis:

"I've got a million things to do."
"There just isn't enough time in the day!"
"I don't have time to do that."

Have you heard yourself saying similar things? Does saying those things make us seem more important or more valuable? You know the saying that if you want something done you should give it to a busy person. Is it because busy people can't say "no" or just that they have an addiction to being everything to everyone. I think I fell into that trap. In the past four months, I've been trying to make a shift away from saying those all-to-familiar phrases. The shift has been difficult, but liberating.

Why does our society look down on resting? Do we fear being called lazy? Do we feel we have evolved and now have the capability to do it all? I think our technology is so prevalent, we might feel we have to adapt to it, not the other way around. Maybe some part of us has a really hard time doing nothing. We don't want to be labeled as lazy. One of my friends said she thinks our society places far too much emphasis on the importance of being busy. Like somehow busy people are more important.

Here's what I'm not doing:

  • blogging at a high frequency (or even a regular schedule).
  • checking my email every five minutes (including while sitting at stoplights — c'mon, I think a lot of us do this!)
  • training for a triathlon or running or visiting the gym. 
  • trying to increase my followers on Twitter or on my blog.
  • actively pursuing any major writing a book, or planning a trip to Europe.
  • cleaning my house regularly.
  • going to every event I'm invited to.
  • pushing myself to put a lot of things on my to-do list.
  • scheduling myself or my kids to a lot of activities.
This holiday season is the time that most over achievers go overboard. This year, I'm going to go underboard.  This year I'm committing to slowing down, doing less and under achieving. 

What are you not going to do this season? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feeling tired...all the time

These days women are expected to do it all and do it all well. Be an awesome mom — no problem. Have a successful career — absolutely. Drive carpool — sure thing. Inspire others at business seminars — of course. Make meals for new neighbors — yep.  Well, if you're a modern woman, you get it. You've probably got it all handled, right?

Not me.

I haven't been myself for a while. While juggling a super-demanding, high-profile job as an editor (with no staff), being a mom of four daughters, keeping a tidy home, and working out as hard as possible to stay in great shape, I hit the bottom. For more than a year I've been tired almost all the time. I was having a hard time concentrating and felt like I could fall asleep nearly anywhere.

I was planning on competing in a few triathlons this season, but I just couldn't recover after my workouts and I kept getting sick (vertigo, inner ear infection, burst eardrum, pneumonia, etc.).  Feeling frustrated, I went to my doctor. He took my blood pressure and measured it as I went from lying down to standing up. It was unusually low as I lay down, but dropped even lower when I stood up. Then, as I stood there, getting my blood pressure taken every two minutes, I started to feel like I was about to pass out. I quickly laid back down and rested. I felt pretty ridiculous, but my doctor told me that my blood pressure was "yo-yoing" and it couldn't get caught up. He said that's why I got dizzy. I took some tests over the next week and was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.

My body can't keep up with any stress because it has been under so much stress for so long. Adrenal fatigue isn't something you can see, it's more of how you feel. I felt like a zombie much of the time. Now I'm taking supplements for adrenal fatigue and resting more. My doctor has me taking the following:
  • Ashwagandha, an herbal supplement that helps with stress and supports adrenal function
  • PharmaGABA, a natural supplement that produce alpha brain waves (the same ones your brain produces when it's relaxes, yet alert)
  • EPA/DHA oil (high-quality marine oil) 
  • Multi-vitamin for women with lots of B vitamins included

Adrenal fatigue is fixable, but it does take some time and lifestyle changes. Some of the changes I've made: a better job with more autonomy and support, frequent meditation, letting things roll off my back when my kids start blaming me for their problems, and doing something artistic every day. I've committed myself to drawing everyday for a year. Where normal people with healthy adrenal function can receive stress relief from a good, hard workout — my doctor told me that hard workouts actually create more stress for my body. So, I've been doing more yoga and easy walks.

If you're feeling tired and sleep doesn't make you feel any better, you may want to talk to a naturopathic physician. My doctor, Dr. Todd Cameron, could probably recommend someone for you if you don't live close enough to visit him.

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