Finding a balance between work and personal time is one of the more challenging tasks I find myself facing daily. I come from a family of workaholics, so naturally, I tend to overload myself with a hefty schedule.
When I was diagnosed with RRMS, I really had to reassess the role that stress and work played in my life, and give some thought to whether or not they were playing a role in my health. I realized that my stress level was through the roof, and it wasn’t necessary. There were plenty of things I was doing that I didn’t actually need to do; I was taking on a lot of other people’s responsibilities and problems.
Once I decided to address this and focus on the things that were truly important to me, I managed to significantly reduce my stress level. I learned to let go of unhealthy, stressful relationship patterns. I got out of some ugly working relationships with people who were causing me more harm than good. I started focusing on my family and the work that I actually needed to be doing. I also started communicating my needs better. I made it a point to take one day a week off and do something for myself, whether it be blowing off some steam at the gun range or surfing.
Until I started making these changes in my life, I hadn’t realized how crucial “me time” is for my state of mind and my health. I am now more sensitive to the signs that I’m getting too stressed out, as it relates to having RRMS. I listen to my body more than I ever have. If I start feeling “off,” I can generally tie it to something stressful happening in my life. For me, stress tends to exacerbate my symptoms – so it’s important that I keep it in check.
Almost everyone has to work some kind of job, and I get that. We don’t get a special card in the mail when we get diagnosed that says all our bills are paid and we no longer have to worry about money. What we do get, though, is a choice. We get to choose what we allow to stress us out. You should never feel guilty about tweaking some things in your schedule to allow yourself some “me time” – it can be more valuable than you realize. We ALL need it for our health and sanity!