I'm sitting up in my bed, all congested, with no voice, and a throat that is just killing me, sipping on some hot tea - and I think to myself, when was the last time I was in bed at this time, let alone sipping on some hot tea? The answer: not since the last time I got sick. And, I'd like to say that that too, was a long time ago. But to be honest, I have been more sick in the last few years, than ever before. To the point, that I went to see an immunologist to make sure there wasn't something inherently wrong with me that was making me susceptible to all sorts of things. And they haven't just been minor colds or flus. I'm talking a staph infection that turned into two golf size abscesses on my neck, to getting Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease during my birthday trip to Jamaica!
Well, the results came in, and everything was right in normal range...except for, my cortisol levels. They were so high in fact, that my doctor didn't think the numbers were accurate and sent me back for three more consecutive blood tests.
For those of you who don't know, cortisol is a stress hormone secreted by your adrenal glands. It is usually secreted during times of stress to help your body regain homeostasis. Prolonged and repeated exposure to increased cortisol production can lead to blood sugar imbalance, weight gain, lowered immunity, GI issues, cardiovascular disease, infertility, and more.
So whats the cure? To eliminate, or reduce stress upon yourself. Which means a healthy lifestyle: healthy eating, physical exercise, quality sleep, and a healthy response to stressors in your life. I feel like I do most of the above. I eat relatively healthy. I exercise regularly. I feel like I handle "stress" well. My largest obstacle is my quality of sleep. But really, I think, is that what is causing my high cortisol levels?
I've been reflecting on the term "stress" a lot these days. And I think this generations' stress is so different than the generation before us; our parents generation.
And I don't think that my stress as an entrepreneur is too different from someone employed. Its just a different type of stress. But beyond the work, I've realized just how 'busy' our lives are. I literally have a color coded calendar and if its not work, its a networking meeting, if its not that, its trying to get in some social time to get my mind off work, or its rushing off to a spin class, or to teach my yoga class, or attending one of the five baby showers, bridal showers, or fundraisers held this week. When do we really get downtime? Even when we're at home getting ready for bed, we are on our phones, checking our emails one last time, keeping ourselves up to date on social media, or jotting down those last minute ideas that just came to mind.
When do we give our brains, and bodies, some time off? Maybe life balance, really means, personal time? I don't even have children yet (although I think my adorable puppy, is my child and can count as one), but multiply all of the above with children, and now you're looking at play dates, and doctors visits, and school appointments, and homework time, and sports practices. I cant even imagine. Yup, cortisol levels are going up as I write this.
And then, we look on facebook and instagram and see everyone else who seems to have their life together. They seem to have time to socialize and take pretty pictures with their girlfriends and dates, and seem to have their work life balance in check. And, yup, cortisol is continuing to rise! How do they find the time to dress up all cute and go out? And how are they still uber successful professionally? And composed and graceful while doing it all? And why cant I do the same?!?!?!
Cortisol is definitely going through the roof now! So much for sitting here in bed and enjoying my cup of tea ;)
I would love to hear what y'all do to achieve or come close to that work-life balance. And I plan to implement some of your strategies and keep you posted.
For now, another sip of tea, and fingers crossed, a good nights rest.