I get asked this from time to time - how did I run my business - and another one on the side - whilst dealing with chronic adrenal fatigue?
The honest answer is - I just did. I never gave up. I carried on against all odds and powered through everything I had to do.
But I did it in a smart way.
Obviously when I first collapsed I didn't have a choice but to stop and rest and sleep. So whilst I was running two businesses I was running them from my bed and my productivity was massively reduced. I had to get good at prioritising things. I asked myself ‘What was the most important thing I had to do that day?’ I would only set out to achieve a MAXIMUM of three things in any given day. Anything more was too taxing and too ambitious.
My work hours were reduced to about four hours per day - there was no way I was working normal hours. Almost every day I had to sleep during the afternoon to recover from a crash and there were ALOT of days where I was in bed all day and just couldn't move. Not even lift my head off the pillow.
If I started to get too tired I would stop and just say to myself - I don’t have to reply to this email now. I will do it in the morning when I wake up feeling better.
I had the help of a few interns at the time who I relied on a lot. They were my legs and feet if things had to physically be done. This is something I highly recommend you do. Delegating is king! I did manage to go to meetings - and probably too many but I would always go straight home afterwards i.e collapse in an uber, breathe, and climb straight into bed to sleep again.
One very important way I got through this was the support around me. I had my sister and my partner mentally reassuring me that I would get better whilst at the same time encouraging me to slow down and reminding me to take things easy and much more slowly. You must have these people in place. Please go and find them and tell them your situation. If they love you they will not ignore you.
I had to come to terms with my reduced work load and not compare myself to ‘healthy’ individuals who were unstoppable to me at the time. That meant not surfing on social media. Seeing other peoples’ successes would crush me at times and trigger anxiety.
In order to work as effectively as I could - feeding my body and nourishing it was critical. So eating every 3 hours was key to keeping my blood glucose up. Skipping meals was very dangerous for me. Inevitably I would crash if I left too many hours in between meals. I even set alarms to remind me to eat all my meals, snacks AND take my supplements. At one point I was taking 40 supplements a day. Please read my previous blog post here on how to identify which nutrients you need and why.
Another thing I did was add in ‘green time’. These were allocated times throughout the day where I would stop what I was doing and take ten minutes out to mediate or do some deep breathing in order to ease my sympathetic nervous system and get my body and mind into a more restful state. This is something I always encourage to anyone in the same situation. You can used the apps Headspace or Calm to get you started.
Exercise was out most of the time. That really had to be put on hold. As was socialising. So many times people would come to me for a cup of tea
Finally, I think the answer really is to just be sensible. No amount of pushing will cure burnout. It really is a matter of listening to your body and deciding day by day how much you are able to do without overdoing it and making yourself worse.
Recovery is a marathon. Not a race. It’s a slow burn which is hard but that is the mindset you need to have. And you need to be ok with this acknowledgment and nod and smile in the face of it all because patience and persistence is the bottom line.