Having an unexpected panic attack can be very alarming. Oh, did I mention basically all panic attacks happen unexpectedly? I don’t know which was worse; the embarrassment of not being able to control my response to stress and anxiety, or the fear of the panic attack itself. However, life wasn’t always like this for me.
I remember a day where I could take on the world. Balancing 200 plates while working two full-time jobs, one that paid the bills very well, and the other fulfilled my passion for making a difference. I was on top of the world. As life changed over the years, the stress kept mounting, but my weight-bearing capacity was not expanding at the rate of the pressure. The difference was so significant my body started sending warning signals.
To start, I was fatigued almost always, with little to no desire to eat, and slightly depressed. I developed a condition called Primary Raynaud’s Phenomenon, which is a high sensitivity to cold that affects my hands and feet. According to my doctor, it was activated by the high-stress levels in my life. “Nothing to worry about, things will get better,” at least that’s the story I told myself.
But I made a few changes, lost a few pounds, started a new job, and life was really feeling good. Then, life started getting stressful yet again. With my work commute increasing to about six hours roundtrip, the addition of a demanding and challenging client, and the inability to set boundaries and disconnect from work after hours, I certainly had the recipe for high stress and anxiety. However, this time my body fired off some major warnings with numbness and tingling in my face coupled with random chest pains and panic attacks. After a battery of stress tests and heart sonograms, the doctor informed me I was indeed having the beginning signs of a stress heart attack. He prescribed me some meds and strongly advised me to get my stress levels under control.
The threat of a stress heart attack in my late 30s was a pivotal moment for me. The frank dialogues with my doctors, and my family helped me to realize that I needed to make some changes fast. It wasn’t easy by far, and it took practice, but here’s what I did:
- I resolved within myself that I would come to work, work only my 8 hours unless it was an emergency that required me to work longer.
- I turned off the audible notifications for my work email. Unless I knew of an emergency reason to check it, I didn’t during non-work hours.
- I obtained a personal trainer that fit my budget and schedule.
- I intentionally went to the grocery store weekly and began carrying my breakfast, lunch, and commute snacks with me daily.
- On the weekends, I took one day to spend with my family to laugh and have fun, and the other to simply rest and reflect.
- Finally, I began to seek out that lane that was purposefully designed for me. When I found it, I turned on my blinker and started moving over in it.
Today, my life is more in balance than it has ever been in years. I have taken my life back, gotten fully in my lane, and regularly mind my health. Yes, I still have moments of stress. As a business owner, it comes with the territory, but it isn’t consistent, and generally doesn’t last long. I encourage you today, start minding your health, and ensure that you are in the right lane. Regularly take an assessment of how you’re doing mind, body, and spirit; and make adjustments whenever necessary. There’s only one of you, and someone out there needs your specific expertise and contribution to this world.
As always, I thank you for stopping by. Remember, today is a great day to make a difference in the lives of those around you. Until next time…
Be Safe & Be Well,
T. Lynn Tate
The Wholeness Coach