The week after finals was spring break. I looked forward to that week off every day all spring quarter. The moment it arrived, I got sick. I was wiped out. Exhausted. It seemed to hit me once the stress was gone.
It turns out there is a name for this. It's referred to as the Let-Down Effect, and it describes a pattern in which people come down with illness or flare-up of a chronic condition, not during the stressful period, but after.
I thought I might experience it again once my 2015 stress let up. Tread is now running smoothly and I am through the learning curve of the MindBody software. No more zoning issues. No more internet issues. No more construction contractors or electricians. I finally finished the half marathon goal hallelujah. And the 100 mile challenge is chugging right along.
All is well.
I feel strong and healthy. I think keeping up with daily exercise was a big factor in this (thank you, Tread!). I also did a much better job this year during the holidays. I practiced having healthy boundaries, engaged in less people-pleasing, and didn't accept invitations just because I felt obligated. I got lots and lots of purposeful rest.
But I am afraid you all didn't. I had almost a dozen people cancel their workouts last week because they either felt sick or exhausted. I am actually grateful none of you came in. We don't want to spread germs at the studio, of course. However, I'd rather you felt strong and healthy after two holiday weeks, than wiped out and sick.
I think this is the Let-Down Effect, but I am going to call it PHSD or Post Holiday Stress Disorder. The literature says the way to prevent PHSD is to take care of yourself during the stressful period, which means healthy food, lots of water, consistent exercise, healthy ways to decompress and lots of good sleep. But we tend towards the opposite. Crap food, wine instead of water, skip exercise, get all jacked up on stress and overwhelm, and struggle to sleep.
But what if you didn't take care of yourself? What if it has actually been years, and you are now seeing the effects, the illnesses, the chronic conditions, metabolic disorders, and you feel wiped out?
It's not too late! If you didn't prevent the effects of chronic stress, you can reverse them! Whether it was just a holiday season, or a lifelong pattern of self neglect. (And you don't have to learn calculus or chemistry to do it.) You just need to take baby steps into a daily practice of self care, and commit to it like your life depends on it.
- Eat mostly plant-strong whole foods. Find a few great recipes and make them! The higher the fiber, the better.
- Drink your water. Lots of it.
- Walk one mile a day. It will change your life and your health. Then lift some weights.
- Find healthy ways of dealing with stress. Set up a coaching session with me. Walk it out in Tread. Take yoga. Learn to meditate. Pray. Dance. Lift. Sing. Knit. Find your thing and do it.
- Sleep! Go to bed early and take lots of naps.
It's the same reason they tell you during the airplane safety talk to put your mask on first, then help someone else. You just can't show up for them if you aren't breathing.
I don't know about you, but I want to show up more than just barely breathing. I want to show up alive! My inner light shining bright. The absolute best version of myself possible. The only way to do that is to take a step back from the shoulds, the stress and the overwhelm, and create daily practices rooted in taking care of you. That's self love. That's self care.
That's how to live a life of freedom and feel your very best. Stop giving power to the voice that says you can't. Believe! Then believe some more! Then pick up some weights and get to work.