Earlier this year, my body completely crashed. Despite having a “healthy lifestyle” where I did yoga every single day and ate pretty healthfully, I woke up and could barely get out of bed. My muscles had started catabolizing, I was consistently gaining weight (despite attempts to eat healthier to remedy this), my legs began having circulation problems, and my energy was completely depleted. In a matter of weeks, I went from being able to manage my condition to completely crashing. It was terrifying. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the constant stress of having unhealthy boundaries, being an entrepreneur, moving across the country by myself, and putting off taking a much-needed break had finally caught up to me. I could no longer avoid doing what was really required to live a healthy life.
I’ll be honest with you, at first I felt like my body completely betrayed me. I felt like I had been living a healthy lifestyle and I didn’t “deserve” what was happening to me. In hindsight, I was able to realize what caused my body’s breakdown and how I could prevent it from happening again. I hope these three lessons I learned when my body betrayed me help you so you don’t have to go through what I did:
Lesson #1: A “healthy lifestyle” can just be a bandaid – When I moved across the country, it created a lot of stress in my life because I couldn’t find a permanent place to live right away. I ended up living in an environment that created a lot of stress in my life due to a lack of boundaries and difference in lifestyle. Instead of setting healthy boundaries with who I was living with, I went to yoga. Sometimes multiple times a day. While yoga helped me cope with the stress, it was just a bandaid. Because I wasn’t dealing with what was causing my stress head-on, my body was releasing a ton of cortisol and adrenaline. This eventually lead to pretty severe adrenal fatigue and exhaustion that no food or exercise on its own would have been able to remedy. If I wasn’t using my healthy lifestyle as a bandaid, I probably would have addressed the issues that were causing me stress way sooner. Instead of listening to my body, I covered my symptoms up with stress-relieving activities. This just quieted the messages that my body was sending me so I could avoid taking action on them. When my body finally crashed, I learned that participating in exercise and eating healthy is great, but not enough when it comes to truly taking care of yourself and your body.
Lesson #2: My body is always communicating with me – Looking back on it, my body had been sending me messages to slow down and set better boundaries for about two years before I finally crashed. While I received the messages (i.e. fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, etc.), I usually “pushed” through them with caffeine and more work, and tried to rationalize those decisions by eating healthier. I also would tell myself that I’d slow down at a better time. Unfortunately, that time never came. Eventually, my body ran out of ways to communicate the message of “slow down” and forced me to slow down by breaking down. I had no choice but to listen at that point, but I could have chosen to listen to those messages much sooner. If I did, my body wouldn’t have had to break down. Though, I will say, I am grateful for the experience of my body breaking down. Because of that experience, I am much more aware of what my body is telling me these days. I’m not sure if I would have learned to take this lesson so seriously if my body hadn’t broken down.
Lesson #3: My body is forgiving – Though I was frustrated when my body didn’t immediately respond when I finally started listening to her, I stuck with it. Over time, I did start to notice little improvements. To get started on taking care of myself better, I let go of the work that was chronically stressing me out (even though this meant initially taking a pay cut), personal boundaries became nonnegotiable (I had to tell friends, family, and clients who had grown to rely on me as their go-to person “no”, which was hard), and I began spending time consciously connecting with my body by asking her what she needed. I realized that my body didn’t betray me, I betrayed her. It may sound cliché, but it was almost like my body had to learn to trust me again. While it took a little time to start regularly receiving messages from her again, eventually, our relationship and connection became stronger than ever before.
I hope you can relate to these three lessons that I learned when my body crashed. In case you are curious, it took about three months to recover from my body’s breakdown, and six months later, I’m probably 85% back to my healthy self. If you are going through something similar, patience is key. Remember that your body didn’t breakdown overnight and it’s not going to repair itself overnight either. Know that you are being given an opportunity to create a healthy relationship with your body that will last your lifetime. What a gift!