After being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I was on a longer sick leave because I lost so much weight I was underweight – my body mass index (BMI) was around 18.2, I was even hospitalised. I had a lot of time on my hands and I just needed something to do (imagine a workaholic not being allowed to work!!). I thought a lot about how I had been living my life up until the disease, and I realized that there was just too much stress in my life. I was partly to blame for it, but what I knew was that I needed to make some changes in my life. I needed to find balance between my work time and free time, as well as to just find balance in myself.
As every workaholic knows, when you want to minimise work to 8 hours a day, you are lost because all of a sudden you have so many free hours, and you don’t know what to do with them. All you know is work. In addition, you no longer know what the things you like doing are. You’ve neglected that part of your life, or perhaps you did something for yourself once a week, and now you have 5 days a week + the weekend!!
You have to avoid to completely fill your spare time, which is something a workaholic would tend to do because they need to have something to do all the time. If you fill your spare time to the fullest, you end up running from one thing (activity) to the other, which only causes you stress, when your free time activities should be relaxing. So there has to be some ‘’do nothing’’ time in your timetable. At the same time, you need to find something relaxing to do for the time when you have no activities so that you don’t fill it with work. Sounds crazy, ha?
What you are then faced with is having to dig deep to find out who you are and what you like. You come face to face with your thoughts and emotions you have about yourself, and some might not be so pleasing, e.g. you think about doing some art and craft, but you tell yourself that you are not a very creative person, or that you are not good with your hands; or you want to socialize more, but you think that you are shy and that it is hard for you to meet new people.
You can see how your thoughts and feelings about yourself influence your self-esteem and your reality. Some might be a bit frustrating, but they just open the door for you to grow, to change for the better. I wanted to find out where all of my thoughts and feeling about myself came from, I wanted to know what was it that made me think that way about myself. It took a lot of Why?’s and How?’s, and ugh and aha moments. Then it was time for me to start seeing things that I was good at, it was time for me to build up my self-esteem. It isn’t something that happens overnight, it is a gradual process, and sometimes old beliefs creep up and you have to consciously replace them with more positive ones.
As I am more of a visual person, I decided to write down all my thoughts and ideas so that I could read them any time I wanted and see what progress I’ve made. Once I was finished, I thought that my little booklet could help someone else so I had to do some re-writing, and the finished product is available for purchase on amazon in paperback or kindle format.
There are times when life gives you lemons, and while you are trying to make lemonade out of them, you surprise yourself by making a lemon pie as well.