Being a small-business owner, mother of six children, one of which is a toddler, and having had three nervous breakdowns over the past 10 years, I know all too well what stress can do to the body.
When we first started our business, the competition was extremely tough, and the market had just taken a dive into the great economic recession. My husband Doug and I worked extremely long hours and devoted every waking moment together talking and strategizing about our business. On top of that, we had three preteen daughters who were on a mission to destroy each other’s lives, which led to an enormous bout of drama within our household. Needless to say, I was dealing with a great deal of stress and doing my very best to hold it all together.
After several years of hard work within my personal life and my business, things began to improve, and it wasn’t until life had calmed down that I began to see the aftermath of what the constant stress had done to my body. I began to experience vertigo randomly at work, at home, and for no apparent reason. Then the panic attacks started and continued to the point of a full-blown nervous breakdown, which led to me taking a week off work and not leaving my bedroom, so I could regain my senses and slowly return to a normal life.
Ultimately, the doctors said I had experienced the breakdown due to an extreme amount of long-term stress and physical exhaustion. It was my body’s way of telling me to slow down. Over the next several years, I had two more episodes, neither of which were as bad as the first.
These days, I still endure stress and have a very demanding personal and professional life. But I have learned to recognize the signs and the symptoms of stress overload, and now I have a solution. I have learned to take one day at a time, focus on the positive aspects of life, and don’t sweat the small stuff, or the big stuff for that matter.
I now know that I will give every ounce of effort to everything I do because that is just who I am, but I also know if that still is not enough, then I will change course and find another way. I have a sense of peace about me now and the knowledge that I am a survivor. I can handle all that life has to offer as long as I take it slow and steady, one step at a time.
If you struggle with dealing with stress, I leave you with this amazing quote that I learned to live by: “Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you react to it.”—Charles R. Swindoll.
Until next month,