Stressed and Sick? Embracing a New Way to Work

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by Liesha Petrovich | Featured Contributor

I remember the date my body started shutting down.

I was supposed to work and volunteer for the 4th or 5th weekend in a row. I hadn’t had a true day off in months. I wasn’t sleeping and my head was spinning with the news of another possible recession.

I woke up with excruciating pain and a complete sense of hopelessness. And all I could think about was how I was too busy to get sick right now. I have always prided myself on my strength. I’m a black belt and teach karate. I’m tough both emotionally and physically. I am not someone who backs down from a fight.

Until I was forced to accept that I’m only human. Sounds easy, but it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.

I had to accept that surviving isn’t the same as thriving. Living means more than being able to overcome adversity. It also means peace, grace and even selfishness. When we’re tired of being sick and tired, the only way forward is to create a new way to live.

And that starts with chucking our working our fingers to the bone mentality.

Everything’s Connected

I’m very, very good at compartmentalizing my life. Business is business and my personal life is entirely separate. Yet, only a fool believes that one does not influence the other.

Because, of course, they do! It’s all connected!

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One of the best measures of a person’s overall health is their sexuality. A healthy libido is a strong indication of an overall healthy individual. A reduction in sex drive can come from a number of factors including stress and not enough exercise/sleep. But it’s not just a lack of interest that’s troubling. In fact, 32% of women report lower self-esteem from a decrease in their sex drive!

How can we be successful when our self-esteem is lower and we’re stressed out?

This is just one example of how our personal health impacts our professional life. Our new way of working begins with understanding that our overall success begins with our personal health, including stress and anxiety and not pretending that we’re robots that have the ability to turn off our emotions at will.

Redefine Success

I used to define success with the amount of money in my bank account.

While that’s obviously important, it’s not the only measure of my success. Now I measure success in a hundred different ways:

  • Am I contributing lasting value to my clients?
  • Does my work live up to my personal values?
  • Have I made a positive impact on someone today?

We are overwhelmed with inspirational quotes like:

“If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes a sacrifice”

No wonder I had a skewed sense of success. I was brainwashed into believing I wasn’t effective unless I was sacrificing something – mostly my health. Yes, hard work and commitment are essential and that’s not debatable. But it’s not the only thing that should define our success. Instead, let’s start redefining our success with the wise words of Dr. Wayne Dyer:

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”

Instead of defining our lives with a narrow definition of success, we need to broaden that to include our wellbeing and overall sense of peace. Celebrate the small victories and moments that just make us smile:

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Self-Care Is Our #1 Priority

Like many other working moms out there, I put other’s care above mine for many, many years. I tried and failed, to do it all. It wasn’t until I literally worked until my body couldn’t function that I realized I had done it all wrong.

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Because there’s one simple truth when it comes to living a balanced, healthy life: We cannot be successful when we put our needs last. We can’t take care of anyone when we’re not healthy and we can’t run a successful business when our stress levels prohibit us from being our authentic, creative and enthusiastic selves.

In Lost Your Spark? Jumpstart Your Creative Juices, I shared the following:

“The world is chaotic and stressful. Sometimes it’s hard to tune it out and find a semblance of peace. And it’s almost impossible to be creative when your thoughts are a jumbled, spinning mess.”

We cannot be the leaders we’re meant to be when we can’t think straight. We need to stop with the lame excuses and start creating a plan to put our health first. Because if we don’t, stress will stop us dead in our tracks.

And then we won’t be working to save our business, but our lives too.

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