In the 1st week of August, I attended the BlogHer 2016 Conference in Los Angeles where Sheryl Crow, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kim Kardashian, Aisha Taylor, amongst others, spoke about the 3 Ws dear to my heart: writing (creativity), wellness, and women’s empowerment.
In their own unique way, each of them emphasized on the importance of wellness in our day-to-day lives. I heard it but it wasn’t until I sat in the plane on my way back to New York, it hit me:
I teach, preach, and promote wellness. But, very often, I forget to show the same compassion towards myself. What if it becomes too late?
The Business of Wellness
To give you a background: I had been super-excited about my visit to the west coast for many reasons. It was during this week that my new company, NimmiLife, which helps people attain their goals and become more productive using holistic wellness and creativity tips, was supposed to be launched.
After the BlogHer conference and company launch, I had planned to take a few days off and hang out with one of my college friends…my first, true time off in 2016. But that very same week, on August 1, my poetry book, “Saris and a Single Malt,” was released into the world. The book went on to become #1 on Amazon’s Asian American poetry list as well Death, Grief, and Loss Poetry list.
This was all a dream come true, but it also meant I had to work harder before leaving for LA. But where was the time?
Losing Time and Sleep
My 14-hour work days turned to 18-19 hour workdays. Time slipped from my hands like quicksand. I cut down on my sleep. For a few weeks in a row, I barely got more than 3-3.5 hours of sleep every night.
The dark circle under my eyes deepened. I started to feel emotional about unnecessary things. I found myself adding intention to other people’s behavior. My Pitta went into imbalance, which meant I started to become critical and judgmental of both myself and those around me.
On August 1, I started to teach a new yoga class to staff members, who help female survivors of violence and sexual assault. I even taught a corporate AyurYoga, mindfulness, and productivity class.
I had a friend visit from London and another friend move to Washington DC. A friend lost her baby and another was diagnosed with cancer. Someone’s husband died, someone’s marriage was falling apart. Then there was a family get-together in Massachusetts.
I was texting, emailing, calling, consoling, and congratulating all the time. I was on the move constantly, both physically and emotionally.
My body started to despise me for taking care of everyone else but myself.
I had begun to feel burnt out. I knew I needed to slow down, but instead I used my motivational inner voice, “You will get plenty of rest soon. Just push yourself for a few more days, Sweta. You have got this.” My husband spoke to me patiently, “You have to let go of something. Your schedule is not sustainable.”
“I’ll be fine. This is my Karma Yoga phase.” I smiled. “Just until August mid. It’s party time after that. Plus, I am devoting more time to my meditation practice.”
“But you haven’t had the time to slow down at all this year,” he looked concerned. When I woke up that next morning, I couldn’t feel my right arm. A part of it was in pain but most of it had gone completely numb. I knew something was off. I messaged my acupuncturist and made an appointment.
Turns out, due to stress, lack of sleep, and improper body posture, a nerve had got pressed and that affected my circulation amongst other things. In one session itself, I found some relief. But I conceded that,
There is no success without wellness. There is no business without wellness.
Sure, because I had upped my meditation practice and cut out sugar and alcohol from my life, for a certain period, my skin had started to glow. People would compliment my “zen look” but no one knew how stress was corroding my cells and nerves on the inside.
I made a promise to myself that if I made it to LA, I would take care better care of myself. So after the Conference and launch, I spent many evenings relaxing on the beach. Sometimes with a green juice in hand and phone on mute, no laptop in sight, journal and pen inside the bag.
I walked everyday on the sand and stimulated my nerves. I ate well, laughed a lot, meditated, and read. I applied oil to the soles of my feet every night and pressed them gently as I whispered a few lines of gratitude.
Inside of 2 days, my sleep improved. My mood became better. I found perspective on life and people. Because my heart was full and body fully rested, my cravings for nonsensical food items disappeared. The numbness in my arm went away. Despite some indulgence in wine and dessert, I lost a few pounds on this trip.
Why am I sharing all this?
The idea behind sharing my story isn’t to discuss my life. I am cognizant that most of us are juggling multiple commitments and trying to stay afloat.
I wrote this essay to remind you that you are not alone. Yes, I am a big proponent of following your dreams and working hard to make them come true. But, maybe, it’s time we accept that success and wellness go hand-in-hand.
My invitation and exploration for this month: don’t be hard on yourself.