By Dr. Shawna Darou, ND
Are you getting burned out from the hustle?
We’ve been living in the time of the hustle, where more is better – longer hours at work, more time at the gym, more extreme diet changes, constant social media updates, endless emails and inboxes we can’t get on top of, too many work meetings, and to top that off most women also have many layers of responsibility (family, children, household, finances,…). Has your period of productivity exceeded 12 hours each day too?
The hustle is taking a huge toll on our health. It’s burning us out younger and younger, and creating the depletion in the body that can result in serious illness. When you’re constantly pushing your limits, there is no reserve if you get sick or have to deal with a major life event – you’re vulnerable, and your health can take a serious downturn.
Your stacking stresses:
I like to think of stress as a series of stacking factors that eventually build up to a threshold. It’s all of these every-day stresses that make our health more precarious, and less resilient when bigger life events hit. The more stresses you have, the closer you are to your tipping point. Note how many physiological stresses there are, which also activate stress hormones. Which stresses are present for you?
Warning signs that the hustle may be taking a toll:
- poor sleep – difficulty winding down at bedtime or waking up too early in the morning
- significant cravings for sugar
- needing caffeine to get through the day
- irritability and short fuse
- worsening PMS
- injuries that not repairing
- an increase in headaches or migraines
- teeth grinding or TMJ pain
- increasing anxiety
- weight changes (may be up or down depending on your constitution)
- needing / wanting alcohol to wind down at night
- more skin breakouts
- worse allergy symptoms
- skin allergies – chronic hives especially
- fertility may be affected
Turning around the early warning signs:
If you’re experiencing several of these early warning signs that you think are due to the pace of your life. It’s time to make a change, remember to slow down and put some firm boundaries around emails and devices. Here are my top recommendations.
In the self-care category:
- Take a look at your week, and build in downtime each week. Your body needs relaxation time, and as I’ve said several times before “it’s not how hard you work, it’s how well you relax.”
- Prioritize sleep, not letting this drift below 7 hours per night. This is important even if your sleep quality isn’t great – just make sure you’re in bed for enough hours, and give your body time to rest.
- Look at all of the self-care pillars: nutrition, sleep, exercise, meditation, time in nature, and pick two that for you are non-negotiable. Which is most important for maintaining your balance? You always have time for what you prioritize.
- A very simple, but effective practice is to watch your rushing. The very thought of rushing and moving fast activates the stress response. Can you give yourself a little extra time, or simply let go of rushing from meeting to meeting?
- Try on the practice of doing just one thing at a time. Studies time and again show that we are much more effective and efficient when we single-task rather than multi-task.
And in the naturopathic care category:
- Testing: If you’re showing some of the warning signs above, some testing for hormone levels and nutrients is highly recommended so we can effectively target where you are out of balance.
- Prioritizing your self-care practices: You may need assistance with which self-care practices to prioritize and how to simplify it.
- Building your optimal nutrition plan: When you have a lot on the go, you need to fuel in the best way possible, and there is no one-size fits all approach. This is definitely not the time for fasting, extreme weight loss plans, juice cleanses.
- Supplements to support your stress, sleep and blood sugar balance: Although supplements do not replace self-care, they can definitely support your body to recover, and usually we begin with herbs and nutrients that calm you down, and nourish.
- And if you really can’t slow yourself down, or feel like it’s impossible to relax, work on your body can help settle your nervous system directly. I find that osteopathy and acupuncture are especially effective.
Big picture: how to balance your ambitions and your health
My best advice is to take a big-picture look at your life and first see how much of the hustle is actually necessary to meet your ambitions, and second whether it’s worth it. Constant hustle appears to be the cultural norm right now, and it doesn’t seem to be making us any more effective, any richer, or certainly not any happier. Has your productivity become your identity?
I love this quote for perspective, by Mary Oliver:
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your wild & precious Life?
If you’re struggling to answer this, because life has become one giant to-do list, I would encourage you to take a look at a blog post I wrote recently about “Your List of 100 Dreams.” When was the last time you thought about your dreams? This list will help you to guide the small gaps in your day to more meaningful activities, and may help you to get back in touch with what’s truly important to you.
I hope this short article has at least got you thinking about the pace of your life, the constant hustle, and how it might be harming your health. Believe me, I know where you’re at! If you would like support to bring self-care, energy and joy back to your life, please let me know – I would be happy to help.
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