Have you ever heard someone scream and ran to help? We’re hardwired to drop everything and go running into the street to pitch in. What we’re not so good at, however, is reacting when our own body is shouting for help.
It’s a lesson I learnt the hard way. Many years ago, I worked in a staggeringly, unrelentingly stressful environment as a PR account director, while functioning on very little sleep (courtesy of my one and three-year-old sons).
Reluctant to throw in the towel, I clung on to the job by my fingernails, just about scraping through each day before bracing myself for the inevitable trauma of the next. Some people put on weight when they’re under extreme stress. I go the opposite way: the daily assault of stress hormones made me skinnier and skinnier, no matter how many brie baguettes and chocolate brownies I ate to try and stabilise my weight.
And it wasn’t only the alarming weight loss – every other week I seemed to be hit with another illness, or my face came out in hives or I’d develop a weird back problem. And still I battled on, desperate to live up to my professional reputation.
Your body begin to whisper at you when something is out of balance. Then it will start to shout!
One day, in the grip of another mystery illness, my legs buckled under me while I was in the ladies, applying blusher to try to tart up my putty-coloured face. I picked myself up and, though clearly unfit to be at work, I doggedly insisted on driving 40 miles to take a client meeting. Ever the professional, as they say.
Eventually, I faced the glaring reality that there was no option but to resign, which I duly did. But I was persuaded that things would improve and, against my better judgement, I relented and agreed to stay.
That same week, I woke up to find that my right eye was bright red. No amountof eye drops had any effect and it was galling to attend client meetings looking like a half-cocked extra from the Twilight movies.
I’d never really suffered from eye infections before, save for a very rare attack that would disappear with a dose of eye drops. But my vampire-red eye just wouldn’t shift. Week after week, there it was staring back at me in the mirror.
And, all the while, the stress I was under at work actually increased. Three months after my first attempt at resigning, I resigned again – this time for good. And guess what? That redness in my eye promptly disappeared.At the time, I came to view the redness as a sort of facial red alert, yelling “Alert! Alert! Leave this job, you fool. LEAVE THIS JOB. NOW!”.
Now that I’ve retrained as a health coach, I still see it as my body’s red alert button. Our body is an incredibly intelligent system that communicates with us constantly. It whispers at us when something is out of balance. When we ignore that signal (much like sticking a plaster over a flashing red button on our car’s dashboard), it turns up the volume. And if we still ignore it, it resorts to screaming at us.
Over to you now. You may find time today to check out countless news alerts and social media updates, while ignoring the most important source of feedback of all – yourself. Take a moment to ask yourself this: what is your body trying to tell you? What “red alerts” is your body desperately throwing out to vie for your attention? Please listen in – it has a lot to tell you.
Suzy Glaskie X
Connect with Suzy over on: