Over the course of my career I have had some really strange and severe illnesses. One year I spent 4 months battling whooping cough and it took a hefty dose of steroids to finally kick it. I had the flu at least a half dozen times, strep throat, run-ins with fifths disease and other "rare" illnesses for a "healthy" adult. All of these illnesses, on top of, the few-times-a-year head colds, sore throats, sinus infections, persistent coughs, you get the gist. The crazy thing is, since departing my former career and it's associated stresses, I have been quite healthy! The worst I can point to was a subtle cough, arguably a more-often-than-normal throat clearing, which disappeared after a few days and didn't slow me down in the least.
Stress is defined as: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Can you relate?
According to a summary of a few articles (*sources below):
Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace.
Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Now, I am not suggesting you up and quit your day job so you can eliminate stress, as there are plenty of stresses that come along with changing jobs or unemployment, financial and "what's next" being the prominent. Additionally, your work may not be the main source of your stress. There are some immediate considerations, however. Is the stress of your work manageable? Are you doing everything in your power to mediate stress like working out, getting good sleep, eating healthy, spending time with loved ones, meditating, the list goes on?
Based on the illnesses that passed through my body every year multiple times a year, and the stark contrast to my lack of illness this year, I think it is safe to say that the stress of my job was not manageable, and I was not managing that stress well. It took me 17 years to figure that out, and re-prioritize my health and general well being, over a career that seemed very important to me all those years.
Life as an entrepreneur is not stress-free by any stretch of the imagination, there are many, if not more shades of stress. However, my own personal assessment of myself is that I am living my days in pursuit of my passion, I am engaged in life, I am present, I am grateful. I am also much kinder and more gentle on myself, since I am my own performance reviewer. I don't sweat it when things aren't done, or when the inspiration may not be there, or when things don't go perfectly. I don't force it, tomorrow is a new day. I have started looking at my body differently, (perhaps in part due to my skiing injury), it is imperative for it to be healthy for my business to thrive. Working out is part of my daily work tasks, something I used to consider purely a luxury. Building and engaging with my community is part of my job, which keeps me invigorated. I pretty much hang out with badasses for a living, how invigorating is that? And resting my mind is essential to innovating and creating, so that has become part of my workday repertoire as well. When the workday is over, I am much better at un-plugging. I am a Wife and Mom 1st and a Business Woman 2nd. My husband and kids get my full attention when we are together. I know for certain that was not the case previously. So I think you could say I have less or no Mom guilt.
I have built these things into my life and my workday, as part of my work, and they are, apparently, keeping me healthy. This is something everyone can do regardless of where you work or who you work for. It is something I certainly wish I had done for the last 17 years. I clearly could have avoided some debilitating and aggravating illnesses that, ironically, were counter-productive to my work. So I will leave you with this: what 1 change are you going to implement in your workday, as part of your work, to keep you healthy?
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National Institute of Mental Health: "Fact Sheet on Stress."
American Heart Association: "How Does Stress Affect You."
Mayo Clinic: "Stress: Constant stress puts your health at risk."