When one gets busy, It’s so easy to forget and forego stuff. Important stuff like life lessons, good habits, and best practices. Stuff like taking time for friends and family.
Hard-won weight loss becomes a slippery slope when I forget that I can’t have certain foods in the house. That for my health and well-being, the 24-pack of chocolate ice cream sandwiches needs to stay in the No Frills freezer section. Or that the more restaurant or ?outside? food I eat, the more likely the pounds will creep back on.
As I get immersed, swamped with long to-do lists, outside commitments, and tight deadlines, the first thing to suffer is my diet. It’s followed closely by regular exercise and personal hygiene.
You know things are getting bad when I tell you I can’t afford the full two minutes to brush my teeth. Or when I rely on dry volumizing shampoo to give me an extra day between washes.
Touch wood, most nights I fall exhausted into bed and have a reasonably good sleep. But when my overactive mind won’t turn off and I can’t fall asleep, It’s bad. Or when I wake at two or three and can’t go back to sleep, and even an amethyst under my pillow doesn’t help, It’s bad. I don’t function well the next day.
When my day includes two steps forward and one step back, when nothing goes right, I can picture the cortisol flooding my body. We know how destructive that stress hormone is, and how it promotes the accumulation of belly fat. Combine that with a lousy diet and too many hours sitting at the computer, and it becomes a recipe for disaster. The stiff body aches. The stressed body is poised for fight or flight. The knots in my neck and shoulders grow. The pain in my forearms and hands intensifies.
Everything becomes magnified and so terribly important. When I stressed about my key role in a recent media event, my cohort reminded me that having faced the threat of cancer to his daughter’s life helped him forever put things into perspective.
So I’m forcing myself to unclench. To set some limits on how much this job encroaches into my life. This morning I forced myself into runners and just walked for over an hour. I went for lunch and attended a grad party. I filled a vase with the irises that are almost done blooming and the peonies that look ready to burst. Yesterday I weeded a flowerbed. Days ago I took time to meet, for the first time, a dear friend, Sandra Livingston, who with her husband John was driving through Alberta. Laughing and catching up was just what the doctor ordered.
So instead of thinking that working longer, harder, and nonstop is the answer, I’m experimenting with the notion that being healthy, well rested, and balanced will serve me better in the long run. No job is worth losing my health or mind over, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.