Why I’m taking a sabbatical…
Hi, my name is Jenn and I’m a workaholic.
I have to work hard at not working. Overworking in the past is part of what led to constantly being tired, hormone imbalances, digestive issues, skin cancer, and Hashimotos.
Scheduling time away from my computer, being outside, and trading perfectionism for presence are some of the ways I overcome my urge to work too much these days so I can feel like my best self.
According to the law of attraction, I suspect you might be a workaholic too, which is why we’re likely connected and can relate to each other so well, so I want to share some tips with you to make sure working isn’t getting the best of you like it once did to me.
You see, I’ve been a busy yet health-minded professional since I can remember.
As a kid, I excelled in school, took all of the advanced classes, and then played outside until the sun went down. In high school, it was more of the same; advanced classes, after-school sports, weekends full of socializing with friends, and at 16 I got my first part-time job.
Off to college I went to pursue a degree in fitness, nutrition, and health all while juggling an internship, a part-time job, and a full social calendar. I landed my first career job right after graduation, was promoted to assistant manager in 6 months, and very shortly after became the general manager running a multi-million dollar business.
At 22 years old, I was living the dream; working hard, making great money working in the health industry, and playing just as hard on the weekends.
Over the years, I put in a LOT of 12-hour days, dealt with a lot of stress working in a high-pressure sales environment, and drank way too much on the weekends trying to relax and escape.
But I thought I had it all under control. I was “eating healthy”, hitting the hard gym every day, and exceeding performance goals at work.
That was until I was diagnosed with skin cancer at 25 years old, with no apparent risk factors such as family history or being a chronic sun-bather.
That’s when the light bulb went on, and I started to realize I had been tired for a long time. I always struggled with my weight despite what I ate or how much I exercised, and my seasonal allergies that were progressively getting worse weren’t normal.
Healthy is a way of being, NOT just doing.
You see, I was doing a lot of “healthy things”, but I wasn’t exactly embracing being healthy. I was running my body into the ground daily and barely keeping it afloat with my so-called healthy eating and exercise habits.
And the truth is, you can’t out-supplement, out-diet or out-exercise a busy lifestyle or an overworked body.
Now as an entrepreneur working for myself instead of someone else from home, it’s too easy for me to sit at home catching up on work instead of taking time to relax and do nothing. I love my work. It’s incredibly rewarding on many levels; I get to help people reach their health and business goals. I get a rush from checking tasks off my list and coaching others which scratches my natural born-leader itch.
Your body can only heal in a relaxed state.
This is exactly why I’m taking a sabbatical of sorts for July to really give myself the space needed to slow down and reset.
This container of space will not only benefit my body from a physical health perspective, but it will also allow me to shift things in my business to be more creative and efficient when I resume a regular work routine in August.
Because of the busy-ness, the doing, and the moving, it elicits a chronic low-grade stress response in the body. It triggers your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your “fight or flight” response, signaling the body to release cortisol hormone.
Cortisol is your body’s response to stress, but it also helps to regulate your energy balance, sleep quality, blood sugar regulation, inflammation, and hormone pathways.
This busy-ness response paired with emotional stress, sub-optimal sleep, hitting the gym hard, hidden environmental toxins, alcohol and foods that aren’t right for your body increases the demand for cortisol to regulate stress and inflammation.
A constant demand for cortisol from the fight or flight response really starts to wear down your physical body over time, leading to all kinds of health issues, draining your energy, and limiting your ability to think creatively and show up as your best self in life.
My old workaholic lifestyle is a perfect example of how we unknowingly drain our bodies every day…
- Get up early
- Workout hard
- Work all-day
- Work while eating lunch
- Eat good food but not great food
- Rush from one place to another including to bed
To sum it up, my routine was basically deplete, deplete, deplete, hit repeat. I would take two steps forward with my “healthy habits” and three steps backward by depleting my body with repeated demands.
Your body will do anything you tell it to, but that doesn’t mean you should.
Understanding the burden of stress that your body is under at any point in time and taking action to reduce it is the true path to achieving and maintaining your ideal health and weight.
One of the biggest actions you can take is to relax more (aka work less) to allow your body to enter the rest and digest or parasympathetic state. This is when healing magic really happens allowing you to take more steps forward even if your choices or environment took some steps back.
Here are 10 of my favorite ways to stop and shift from work mode to relax mode that instantly flip the switch in the body from fight or flight to rest and digest status:
- Lay down and prop your feet up for at least 5 minutes
- Take a breath break; inhale 5 sec., hold for 5, exhale for 7, repeat 5-10x
- Eat meals outside and/or away from your computer and phone
- Schedule time to explore the outdoors and disconnect
- Create a nightly wind-down routine and be asleep by 10pm
- Set Do-Not-Disturb on your phone daily 9pm-7am
- Spend quality time with furry family members or friends (dog, cat, etc.)
- Find a hobby that entices you and brings you a bunch of joy
- Engage in therapeutic mental challenges such as puzzles, crosswords and painting
- Put reminders in your calendar to stop working and do something relaxing such as read a book, watch your favorite TV show, do arts and crafts or just sit and stare out at the world
Even with these tools in my back pocket, that little voice inside my head still tries to encourage me to keep working to reap the rewards of my labor, but I know better now.
And during this sabbatical in July, I’ll be practicing stillness to strengthen my tolerance (aka ability) for it.
I know what it feels like to feel at home in my body, to wake up rested, to feel strong, and to never ever get sick – this is way more worth it than that extra hour or minute of work I think I should put in.
This is the question you have to ask yourself…is all that work worth it if at the end of the day you’re too tired, sick or feeling fat to enjoy life?
I’m curious, no matter how small, what shift could you make to work less and relax more in an effort to support feeling like your best self?
Comment below to give yourself some accountability and share your commitment to shift with me.
P.S. My regular newsletters and Instagram Lives will be on pause next month while I’m taking a sabbatical for July BUT here are a few ways to stay connected and still get great tips, tools and information during this time…
- Follow me on Instagram
- Listen to my Podcast Appearances
- Check out my Health Tips Blogs
- Check out my Business Tips Blogs
Have a wonderful July and I can’t wait to share more insightful content in August!