To anyone who leads a busy life, or has a demanding job or boss like I did, I would give just one piece of advice.
Stop, Look and Listen.
When you’re chasing your tail to meet a deadline, or have to be home by a certain time for the kid’s parents evening or to avoid your dinner being given to the dog, you need to take the time just to STOP.
Not for a long time, but just enough to catch your breath, maybe deep breathe, take some hydration onboard and just reboot. And do it regularly – at least three times a day.
LOOK at yourself. Do you look tired, or grey? Are your eyes and skin turning an unhealthy shade of red? There are many ways you can see when things aren’t right with your body – and you need to pay attention.
When you do eventually get to rest or to bed, LISTEN to your breathing and your heartbeat. If either is accelerated, do what you need to do to bring them back to a steady pace. Check both regularly and don’t ignore either if they start to pick up.
I know this because I didn’t stop, or look, or listen.
And one day, driving back form the office after another busy day, I started to feel strange and panicked. My vision went blurred and I thought I was about to lose consciousness.
This triggered a chain of events that lasted two years, and put me and my family through hell. I was in and out of hospitals for tests and scans, and I could barely sleep. I couldn’t face driving, because every time I did I was scared of blacking out. My doctor couldn’t give any answers, which just added to the problems and the symptoms.
I was eventually diagnosed with SVT caused by stress, compounded by a left branch block in my heart that I’d probably had since birth.
For those two years I was running on empty, turning up for work but not able to enjoy any aspect of it as I simply didn’t feel well physically or emotionally. Although I was never depressed (at least I don’t think I was), my own family didn’t recognise me and I was not a nice person to have around.
Thankfully, my wife came to the rescue and gently encouraged me to do things I’d never really done before. Things like regular walks, a little yoga, and mind maps! Lots of little things that enabled me to turn the corner and to return to good health.
Things are not the same as they were before. Why? Because I now know how important it is to breath. To find your own space and time.
To get out and about in the fresh air – regularly.
And simply to recognise that work isn’t the most important thing…I am.