Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Slow Burn (Out)

It began slowly at first - I started skipping my regular (and beloved) Barre classes. Soon enough, I had stopped even bothering to look at the timetable, knowing there was no point even attempting to go to my usual Wednesday morning class, as finishing a class at 7:30am would have me in the office hopelessly late (to my deranged brain) at 8:30. The workaholic in me would have done a solid hour of work by 8:30! (Yes, I take an hour to get ready - no attempt at speeding things up seems to work, as it usually results in forgotten lunch, keys or laptop and a miserable trudge back home to collect forgotten items). 

Then it gained momentum. Definitely no lunch breaks. Ever. Just a quick lunch hastily made with little concern for nutritional benefits as I dashed out the door, even more hastily devoured at my desk as I punched out work like a performing monkey. Daylight saving exacerbated things: with sunset now not until 7:30pm, a 6pm departure seemed outrageous. 8:30pm it was. The entire team on annual leave and a more punishing than unusual travel and work schedule pushed things into the stratosphere. Work dinners at 9pm for jet-lagged visitors from the Northern Hemisphere with a midnight bedtime, followed up with 5am starts to travel vast distances alone fed the beast. An overflowing inbox sent my stress levels into overdrive, and I simply couldn't rest until everything was responded to and neatly filed into anally retentive Outlook folders (hey, whatever helps you sleep at night!)

Some people are anorexic. Other people are exercise-a-holics. And yet others find comfort in the bottom of a vodka bottle. Me? I have a tendency to workaholism. Neglecting all else for the benefit of a faceless corporation and its cerebral, somewhere-out-there shareholders. No extra pay, no additional pats on the back, no gold stars. Nothing drives this behaviour but me and a need to perform at my best (an ideal that is impossible to attain, given no one is perfect and you can always do better). The only thing that can stop this behaviour is something dramatic, generally involving my health. I know full well that my body doesn't really like being stressed and it certainly doesn't respond well to over tiredness.

I honestly don't know why I do it to myself. Perhaps it's a combination of a Type A personality and the loneliness of being away from home. After all, as Oscar Wilde once said: "Work is the refuge of people with nothing better to do".

Whatever it was, over the last few months I've been running on adrenalin - and not in the exhilerating, skydiving kind of way. 


Missed periods, constant fatigue, fainting on planes, seized up shoulder blades and sudden, debilitating cold sweats have told me to slow down. Now it's just figuring out how to tame this Type-A Beast, as I try to balance work and study and my burning desire to stay in touch with my friends over the next 8 weeks. 

I feel like I need to establish a set of rules for myself, but I'm not sure where to start, and what even is realistic. Can I start Barre again? I think so. The tug of needing to be at work at 7:30am will just have to wait - even if it is only one morning per week. 

Green smoothies? I still despair at not having one of those crazy $1000 blenders, but I am assured you don't need one... But I don't like spinach! 


What else? I think I need advice on this, because setting boundaries and reining in my natural enthusiasm to do a good job is not a strong suit. What strategies do you employ to (a) boost your immunity, and (b) keep your work/life balance balanced?

Send me your tips, because I think I need them.

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