How Do You Know When You Are Overextended?
I’m Wounded, What do I Do?
Vanessa sat in her kitchen, feeling torn. She loved her children, her job, and her home. She felt fortunate, but at the same time, disenchanted.
Tired all the time, her mind felt cluttered with lists of things to do amidst toys to clean up or step over, chores to complete, and job tasks left unfinished. But worst of all, her hopes and dreams were stuck in the far corners of her mind, dusty and seemingly forgotten. Somewhere in her lovely and blessed life, she had forgotten. Forgotten what it was like to live the full depth and width of her life.
Vanessa’s body was also starting to show signs of wear and tear. Not to mention childbirth twice over, a mid-back ache that she just couldn’t shake, and constant fears of inadequacy, Vanessa felt like she was constantly disappointing someone all the time.
Vanessa could be me, or you, or any mom feeling overextended.
To know if you are overextended, just ask yourself one question: Is the person you are disappointing the most…yourself?
Is Vanessa putting on her own proverbial oxygen mask first, tending to everyone else, caring for their needs and wants, while ignoring her own?
What’s more is Vanessa felt cold all the time, mentally cloudy, soft (and not just around the middle), sharp tempered, and too mobile. She was always moving and doing, but for someone else and not herself. Multi-tasking felt like her middle name, or some kind of wickedly assigned mantra she never asked for.
What should Vanessa do? Does your life sound like Vanessa’s?
What Yogic Medicine Has To Say About Work/Life Balance
Just like the physical body will retract other systemic functions to keep you alive when it is wounded, your psychoemotional and biochemical systems will do the same.
Integrated medicine has something to say about how we can mange work/life balance. The biopsychosocial (BPS) model, used by integrative health care providers across the globe to provide more holistic care, is long-supported by the Institute of Medicine and World Health Organization. The yogic BPS model that I use, also known as the panca maya model, claims there are five dimensions to the human being:
The yogic BPS model also works on the theory that if any dimension is neglected, dysfunction or imbalance shows up in one of three different constitutions (called doshas in Sanskrit), according to Ayurvedic medicine:
- Vata (air/ether) (colon),
- Pitta (fire/water) (stomach), and
- Kapha (earth/water) (sm. intestines, lungs).
What happens when you are overextended and work/life balance goes awry?
Adrenal burnout can ultimately result when imbalance is left to “fester” and spread from the gastrointestinal system to “infect” other neighboring body systems, says Ayurvedic medicine. This spreading can affect the musculoskeletal system (think joint aches and pains, along with fatigue), neuromuscular system (think nerve-related pain), or neuroendocrine system (think hormone regulation problems). Read my post on Adrenal Burnout: How to Identify It and Recover From It
Females are most often affected by adrenal burnout, as well as neuromuscular disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and pain disorders. Why is that? Perhaps because women are regularly and repetitively overextended compared to males. We have more responsibility and less support than ever. Read my post on How America’s Broken Healthcare System Affects Women.
If you are suffering from symptoms in the colon, stomach, small intestines, or lungs, it would be a good idea to evaluate your life for signs of being overextended. I like to use a 3-step process to help folks take (back) control of their life.
Three Ways To Take Back Control Of Your Life
- Pause. Take the Happiness Inventory from my blog to see what areas of your life may need attention.
- Pray. This can take the form of meditation, devotion, or prayer. Here’s an easy kickstart to a meditation practice. Download my free podcast, the Thank You Meditation.
- Prune. – Identify what are time or energy (known as prana in yoga) sucks. Avoid or even eliminate those prana suckers in order to welcome fresh change and a positive perspective in your life.
What can you do in the meantime to protect your adrenal function?
You have several options:
- Have an Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine evaluation to assess your constitutional balance. Once you have an evaluation you can learn how to self-manage doshic (vata/pitta/kapha) balance (as it is known in Ayurvedic medicine), which is affected by climate, season, age, and health status.
- Visit an integrative practitioner, which could include a doctor of medicine (MD), doctor of nursing (DNP) or nurse practitioner (FNP), doctor of physical therapy (DPT) or similar health care professional who focuses on functional and integrated medicine and wellness evaluate you.
These practitioners should help you identify inflammatory biomarkers related to exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle habits and work with you to devise your best, individualized plan of care. They will steer you to proper resources to reduce systemic inflammation, balance your constitution for proper hormonal function, and prescribe specific exercise and nutritional recommendations for your best health.
Adrenal Fatigue Protection through Yoga Philosophy + Integrated Physical Therapy
- Udana Vayu – Focus on preservation, rather than expending, of energy.
- Samana Vayu – Focus on equalizing input/output, instead of always focusing on output and “doing” or working.
- Sattvic Guna – Focus on acting for the greater good, or something that is greater than the self. This includes volunteerism, prayer, and spending time reflecting on how you can “pay it forward” in spirit and deed.
- Introspection – All activities can be approached from a mindful state, including exercise, nutrition, household management, and family care, not just yoga practice itself. Yoga is simply a container that teaches mindfulness; mindfulness which should reach beyond the mat and into your life.
- Mindful movement, Music, and Meditation – I use yoga combined with physical therapy and other medical sciences (Medical Therapeutic Yoga), which includes Ayurvedic massage, myofascial release, regular massage techniques, and joint mobilizations/stabilization to encourage healing and recovery. One tablespoon of warmed oil such as almond or coconut, to administer a self-massage to the soles of feet, the sacrum, and crown of head in particular can help when short on time or funds. Also, make sure to avoid twists/squats in yoga if you have severe fatigue. Choosing restorative yoga or yoga nidra can also help with severe fatigue and burnout.
- Nutrition – Drinking warm herbal teas that promote ease of digestion and calm, combined with an Anti-Inflammatory Diet with immune-boosting foods high in flavonoids and essential fatty acids can help. See resources I have compiled on Anti-Inflammatory Living. The focus is increasing chi/prana (energy) in the adrenals through using food as medicine.
- Pranayama – exhalation(release), inhalation(rejuvenate). Although a part of yoga, breathing exercises stand alone as an immediate way to affect neuroendocrine function and energy. Focus on yogic breathing exercises, see my Yoga Podcasts available for free download on iTunes.
Good luck on your path to optimal health, it is always within your reach.