When Reaching For the Stars Lands You in a Ditch

Finding a balance between work and self-care can be difficult for people who are the perfect picture of health. I know, because I used to be one of them! I’ve always envied those people who seem to fit exercise and quiet time into their busy schedules with such regularity. Even as a young, healthy professional in a career I loved, I found it hard to carve out time to rest my mind, strengthen my body, or take a walk in the park. There was just so much other stuff to do! Now that I am frequently disabled by migraine, it’s WAY HARDER.

Migraine versus ambition

I have big plans. I always have. Granted, they’ve changed due to migraine (understatement of the year). What hasn’t changed is that my goals are what help me get out of bed in the morning. They are the things that make me want to take better care of myself, and they are the things that lift my mood after migraine has dragged me way, way down. Not even chocolate can conjure the same sort of happiness I feel when I’m on the road to some small professional success.

The problem with this, of course, is another great “migrony:” the very things that keep me going are the very things that can trigger an attack and ultimately hold me back. When I get too excited about a project, goal, event, or say yes to too many things, I wear myself out, neglect my own treatment plan, and land myself in a migraine ditch for days at a time.

Ignoring my body is not an option

I used to be able to burn the candle at both ends, and the only repercussion was fatigue, or maybe a temporary cold or flu. Now, pushing my body beyond its limits means more frequent and severe migraine attacks. If I don’t make time for yoga, meditation, good food, and good quality time with my Cefaly, my attacks increase. But there are only so many hours in a day. How am I supposed to do all the things that make me really happy and also fit in regular meditation, yoga, exercise, and healthy meal planning?

How am I supposed to do it all??

The unpleasant answer is that I can’t. Accepting my limitations is a constant struggle, but it is probably helpful to face the truth sometimes. Otherwise, I’ll end up right back where this whole journey started: in bed, unable to work at all. And since I seem to have a modicum of control over this beast, which I am lucky to have, I should exercise it.

As I find my new groove as a freelancer, I need to be more self-disciplined than ever. I need to eat all my metaphorical broccoli BEFORE my mac & cheese (except I’m eating neither of those things because IBS…haha…sigh). I need to do my meditation yoga and exercise in the morning BEFORE I get started on anything else. I need to set a timer when I work so that I will be reminded to take breaks, stretch, drink water, and listen to a stupid podcast and laugh. Whenever financially possible, I need to take on less work, work smarter, and delegate. And sometimes, I need to say no.

How do you stick to your treatment plan when ambition comes knocking?

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