Why it’s ok to take time out for your health (And why you should)
It all became too much.
Three years ago, almost exactly, I made a radical decision in my life.
It was time to focus on my health.
The decision didn’t come easily. I had a dream job, loved the people I worked with, was using the skills I attended university for and had just started a wonderful new relationship. Yet, my health was robbing me from the joy of experiencing it all.
I was in a constant cycle of migraines and anxiety. I wasn’t being a fair co-worker — my sick leaves put other people under more pressure. Adding on additional responsibility at work made me feel unworthy and useless instead of valued and respected because I was constantly worried I wasn’t doing a good enough job due to my health.
And then one day, it all came crashing down. I opened the new month’s schedule on my computer and instantly knew I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill all the hours my name was attached to. My body shook. My heart pounded. And my head throbbed. I couldn’t ignore the signs my body was giving me any longer.
I had to quit and make my full-time job recovering my health.
Until that point, I had done my best juggling health issues that were becoming more chronic by the day and working both part-time and freelance. I would usually work for three to six months, become too stressed, overwhelmed and plagued by migraines and anxiety, and then resign. Within a month or two, I would have recovered enough to feel I could work again. And, I wanted to. I didn’t want to be known as “The girl who couldn’t work because she was too sick all the time.” I wanted to be in my head what I, at the time, thought it meant to be a productive member of society. However, the cycle kept repeating itself.
I was lucky. I never left employers on bad terms. They knew I was doing the best I could. Every time I left a manager’s office, teary-eyed and devastated this is what it continually came to, they encouraged me to keep trying and gave me their best wishes.
But suddenly, I was “The girl who couldn’t work because she was too sick all the time.”
My emotions after making the decision to be a full-time health warrior were mixed. Half of my brain was relieved and comforted while the other half was ashamed and worried. Guess which two emotions had more power.
The first year and a half focused more on the shame and worry and this hindered my health even more. Honestly, I was afraid I had made the wrong decision — maybe working kept my body going. The 3-4 weekly appointments with different practitioners were exhausting. It didn’t help I was feeling like I wasn’t making any progress. There were some extremely low moments during this time — moments where I didn’t want to be alive.
Slowly but surely though my hard work began to pay off. My first radical decision spurred on other extensive changes. I made dietary overhauls. I worked diligently with counselors restructuring the 15 years of destructive thoughts of being unwell. I read books, waited on waitlists to see more specialists and tried more treatments. Ultimately, I gave my body the time and space it was craving to begin to heal.
After a year and half, I saw small, positive changes in my body. I had more energy and ways to treat migraines, but most importantly, I had begun to grow an attitude of positivity. I began to see the value of taking this time off for my health and putting myself first. The thoughts and grief I had towards migraines, anxiety and depression lessened. Both my physical and emotional pain decreased.
This all led to the creation of A Lush Life, 11 months ago. It also started a year of intensive psychological work, fine-tuning diet changes and finding a neurologist who gave me hope and better treatment options. And now, it’s given me the ability to work again — on my terms — with Beautycounter.
If I hadn’t made that heart-wrenching decision three years ago, there is no way I would be in the happier and healthier place I am today. It has taken me these three years to realize IT IS OK TO TAKE TIME FOR YOUR HEALTH. If you are struggling, suffering and unwell, it has become my understanding and my belief that your body is asking you to notice it and take action — no matter how big or small that action is.
I realize not everyone is in the same situation I was in with the ability to quit work all together and be supported by friends and family physically, emotionally and financially. Trust me, I thank my lucky stars every single day for this. But, in order to heal, you need to make it a priority. And, you need to understand it is ok, actually recommended that you do. No one wants you to be in pain, suffering internally or not living life to your highest potential. If you think someone does, it’s important you work on this and lean on someone who believes in you in the meantime (Hello, I’m here for you!).
Taking time out for your health is ok because:
- It shows you love yourself (I had to work on this one with my counselor!)
- It means you are listening to your mind, body and soul
- It shows you are focusing on what you need to do for YOU
- You are more than your illnesses
- You are allowed to set boundaries based on what you need at that moment
- It fosters acceptance, positivity and healing
And you should do it because:
- Learning to let life unfold with ease is a powerful healing tool
- Your life is worth LIVING
- The healing you learn about one area will be multiplied to other areas of your life
As, I write this blog post, I’m ending a weekend of taking time off for my health. Yes, I had to add in weekend off to my already health-centric life. Why? I was losing grip on what I worked so hard for: Less migraines, lower anxiety and less stress. To reset and refresh, I planned 48 hours of pure “me” time, away from work, daily stresses and social media. This break was needed after a month of feeling sick and tired. I went back to my reasons why it’s ok to take time out for your health and saw an opportunity to practice what I preach.
It proved to me the lessons I have learned over the past three years are true and powerful. Whether you end up taking years off to heal, a weekend-away to rejuvenate and replenish your heart, or even an hour meditating — it is OK. It is ok, it is wise and the pros out weigh the cons, every single time.
“Nourishing myself is a joyful experience and I am worth the time spent on my healing.” — Louise Hay
Recommended reading: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay (FYI – affiliate link)