I was actually terrified to start a blog. Once I started it, I was actually terrified to launch it to the world. (And by the world, I meant a couple of friends and my family. Once I launched it, I was terrified to share it on any of my social media channels. And by social media channels, I mean Facebook. I am not handy on Twitter - in fact, I remember the first hashtag I ever used was #Idontknowwhatimsupposedtowriteafterthissymbol. You will be pleased to know that I just learned how to use Instagram last weekend. I feel like a big wiener using hashtags but I am up to eight posts now - big things on the Instagram front are happening here, people. #yoga #yyz #wiener.
So, as you are all aware, I shared my blog to all of you last weekend. Thrilling, and terrifying at the same time.
Thinking back, I was without a doubt putting way too much pressure on myself to have the perfect looking blog, with the perfect looking blog content, the perfect looking pictures and have everything be just perfect. I bet a few of you share a similar mentality with your own passions and work ethic.
Well friends, perfect doesn't exist, which we all know. But worse, striving for perfection will defeat you, and worse, destroy your health.
I have been told on separate occasions by more than a few people to go easy and be forgiving of myself. I spent far too many late nights trying to fix things that I had no idea how to fix on the back end of my blog. Worse, no matter how late I stayed up, I would continue to force myself to wake up at 5:00 am to mediate, journal, hit the gym, and read my book before heading into my 9-5. Then, I would be back at my computer all night, tormenting myself because I couldn't figure out how to make my picture appear on the side-bar, or how to fix the code to make my newsletter function. This doesn't just apply for this blog. I pride myself on being able to multi-task and take on numerous activities at one time, and when I am doing a less than stellar job, I beat myself up, get anxious when things aren't working out, refuse to ask for help and worse, I don't take a break until I am finished.
Shocking to no one, it caught up to me.
Rewinding a few weeks back, I was about to launch this little bloggy blog to the world and was kind of dreading it. My coach told me that if it was not live by the next time we spoke, we would be doing it together during the call. On top of that, I was flying out to my best friend's wedding and finishing up the final touches of my Maid of Honour speech. Coming from a nervous public speaker - that didn't aid my already high anxiety levels. I was spending my spare time worrying about my speech being perfect, making my blog perfect, stressing about taking time off of work for the wedding and still trying to manage a balanced lifestyle.
One morning, I returned back from the gym and had just finished preparing my morning shake and avocado toast. I bent down to untie my runners and all of a sudden, a sharp pain shot up my chest. I felt a heat wave move up my body and flood down my arms, throughout my chest, up my face and spread to my ears. I could barely stand up. I looked in the mirror and my body was flushed beet red. My breathing got short and sharp and I had to lie down on the couch to try to steady my breath. Every time I did that, the sharp pain would shoot up my chest, and the muscles in my back would spasm. **Note - If you are reading this and you are my mom, skip over the next sentence. ** I was about to call out for my roommate, but felt like the act itself would kill me. So I just waited. (Smart decision making Sarah). 30 minutes later and fortunate for me, I was completely fine. I felt a little ill, but for the most part I was good to go. I continued on with my day as if nothing had happened, and proceeded with my week with no changes to my lifestyle.
The following week, I launched my blog. As mentioned, I was scared shitless. I had four people on my newsletter list. (My personal email accounts made up two of them). I had little sleep, and had done nothing but sit myself in front of a computer all evening to ensure that everything was as close to perfection as it could be.
The next week, I knew it was time that I grow a pair and start sharing the work I did. I knew that was the only way I could get my message out in the world.
Again, same scenario, I got back from the gym one morning, finished making my shake, bent down to do a light stretch, and felt the heat course through my body. The familiar sharp pain shot up my chest, my back muscles constricting in spasms, and my skin felt like it was on fire. It was worse then before and I knew I needed to talk to a Doctor.
Well turns out they were anxiety attacks (which I had assumed, given that I had experienced something similar before). It also wasn't surprising, considering how hard I was being on myself, how little rest I was getting, and how I was pushing my body to its limit by staying up until the early hours of the morning, and still forcing myself to get up at 5:00am even though my body was screaming at me to stay in bed, and to let myself sleep in for a change. In the same week, I was experiencing chronic back pain and got an x-ray done from my chiropractor that said I had the onset of arthritis in my lower back - most likely due to a childhood injury that I did not properly treat, and the career choice I made to be sitting at a desk from 9-5 all day. Don't worry people - the stand-up desk is in the mail, as we speak.
Well most people might take this as a sign to chill out. I tried getting more sleep, drinking less caffeine, cutting alcohol out of my diet entirely, yet I kept pushing my body. I kept waking up every morning, forcing myself to go to the gym, heading into work exhausted, jumping back on my computer when I got home and trying to force myself to get started on my next blog post, but I couldn't write. Everyone around me, including my body, was telling me to slow down. Earlier this week however, I finally figured it out.
I went to a Canadian Blood Services blood donor clinic with a friend to donate blood. Obviously a GREAT idea, given all of the stress I have been putting my body through. I honestly had thought nothing of it, another downside of my "go, go, go" mentality.
Shocking to no one, it caught up to me.
I fainted. Just flat out. Nurse Helen forced me to drink three apple juice boxes and two packets of cookies, while my friend Anna fanned me and the other nurses dabbed my face with cold wet wash clothes. I came to when I was being wheeled to a back room past all of the other people in the chairs donating blood. Good job guys - keep up the great work. I'll be in this back room with my feet elevated if you need me.
So after my stomach had settled and I stopped sweating profusely, I decided it was time to check myself, before I literally wrecked myself. Completely nauseous, pale faced, shivering cold, I stumbled into my apartment and crawled onto my couch. I felt completely drained and the mere notion of checking my email made me want to vomit.
At that point,everyone's feedback came rushing back to me, that maybe I have been running myself just a little bit ragged lately. I think at some point - especially for all of you young, hard working, determined, driven females out there - we all do.
So in my quest to search for self-care tips and tricks, I came across this suggestion from an amazing life coach and self-love teacher - Melissa Ambrosini, who has a designated day just for self-care. A day that reminds you to treat yourself and to do something nice, just for you. A day that reminds you to reward yourself for all of your hard work, because that is your responsibility and nobody else's. She calls it #selfcaresunday, and inspires others around her to do the same.
"The best investment you can make is in yourself." - Warren Buffett
I loved this idea, so I started first thing last Sunday. My self-care Sunday included a sleep-in, a meditation class, a candlelit restorative yoga class and capped it all off with a nice relaxing bath with candles, a book, and some rose petals. Yes, I actually walked into a grocery store and purchased flowers for the sole reason of ripping the petals off and putting them in my bath. I was thinking exactly what you are thinking right now. No on ever does that, except maybe a hotel that's charging a lot of money for their honeymoon suite. So I decided to treat myself to the honeymoon special. Minus the honeymoon and the husband.. minor details.
Now this will be different for everyone, because the way I treat and care for myself will be very different from how you would treat yourself. For me, this might include drawing a nice bath like I did on Sunday, not setting my alarm on weekends, making time to lay out by the pool in our condo, booking a massage, going to bed early so I can read my book a little longer, cruising by the Lululemon to treat myself to a new pair of wunder unders, or just skipping a workout entirely. Please note** for all of you Netflix lovers, yes, this can include a night of binging on Netflix - but I recommend you don't make a regular habit of it.
The biggest problem with caring for yourself, is making time to do it. In the future, whenever my mind starts thinking about my to-do list and all of the things I have to get done before the end of the day, I have promised myself that I'll take a look at the following reasons that remind me why self-care is so important.
1.) To avoid burnout
This one is so incredibly important. If you are anything like me, your mind races a mile/minute thinking about all of the things you have to do or (in my case) want to do in order to achieve all of your goals. When I get an idea in my head I typically want to act on it immediately, and do not rest until the idea has come to life. My drive sometimes overcomes logic or rational thinking that I might just be taking on too many things at once, which is often the case. I have learned the hard way though, when you are constantly on the go, it's hard to to recharge your batteries and unless you take time to breathe, you'll run out of fuel. Think of yourself as a car. You can drive for miles and even if everything is in working order, at some point you are going to run out of gas. It's impossible to run at optimum speed (or at all) if you don't make time for a pit stop.
2.) To increase your productivity
This was a big one with my blog. As I previously mentioned, I would stay up in the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out plugins and sliders and widgets and all kinds of words I still don't know that I fully understand the meaning of. (Fake it 'til you make it, friends). I would be beating myself up, spending countless hours watching tutorials and trying to get things up and running before I realized it would be two in the morning and I needed to get up in three hours for my morning routine. Well this of course wasn't sustainable. I reached out to this absolute beautiful gem that I met in New York - Christine Rose Elle - who is a life and heart-centred business coach that helps women start their own coaching business and (in my case) can answer every single question you might have about starting a blog. Check this beautiful soul out here if you ever find yourself in the same pickle: www.christineroseelle.com. Anyways, that's when I started learning the next tip that indirectly led to an increase in my productivity, and that was to ASK FOR HELP! I am so bad at this. I run myself ragged when there are usually many other people around you that can help, if you just ask. Asking Christine for help cut my process down to most likely one/tenth of the time of what I would have spent trying to teach myself, it prevented me from staying up late, and as a result, I was way more productive given that I had more time to rest and more hours to sleep. I learned that it would take me twice as long to get something done when I was exhausted, then when I had a fresh mind that was able to think straight after a good night's rest.
3.) To be able to properly care for and nurture your relationships
Think back to when you were last on an airplane. What does the stewardess instruct you to do before helping anyone else in an emergency situation? They instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first, before you do so for anyone else. This practice should be carried throughout life with each and every one of us. I cannot stress this enough. You have to take care of yourself before you can happily work with or be with anyone else. If you are worn down and do not have time to take care of yourself, you will not have time or energy to give everything you can to your relationships. Do both yourself, and your partner a favour, and make "taking care of you" a priority. If we are exhausted, cranky and feel shitty in our own skin, how can we possibly be present and available to invest the time and effort on deepening the relationship with someone else?
4.) You deserve it
I shouldn't even have to say this one, however, this seems to be the reason that each and every one of us forget the most. If one of your family members or closest friend was burning themselves out, working around the clock, giving everything they have to complete a task/job that they were given or that they gave themselves, and always thought the job they were doing was never good enough, what would you tell them? You would say relax, you're doing great, go easy on yourself, and take a break to treat yourself for all of the work that you do. Treat yourself the same you would treat any of your loved ones and ensure you give your body a weekly reward for everything it does for you!