As a full time professional female, working in a highly stressful role and being a mother of four, I struggled for years to experience the elusive work-life balance.

Should I reduce my hours?

Can’t afford it.

The workload was huge.

Management knew I was overworked, but so was everyone else. Deadlines still had to be met.

After work I would often have to take the children to an activity. I would use the waiting time to catch up on my to do list. Like my online shop, responding to texts and emails.

Swimming lesson day was a classic case in point. I would purposely keep my head down, so that other parents don’t engage me in conversation, I’ve got 30 golden minutes. What did that do for my social life?????

Back at home the race is on to get all the wet swimwear and towels sorted, and get dinner on.

“Mum,Mum, you’re not listening! was the all too familiar cry.

Then trying to strictly adhere to the regime between dinner and bed time.

The quietly desperate race to get the children to sleep so I could sit on the sofa and exhale with a glass of wine (or 2).

Or on the days there where there were work deadlines. Especially submissions for Tribunal. The not so quiet race to get them to sleep. NOW, so I could go on the laptop, in the hope to get myself to bed before 12, 1. or 2am. And sad to say it had even stretched to 3am.

Career called for it. I was commended at work for being efficient and reliable. “Zulieka’s amazing, I don’t know how she does it all!” But let me tell you how I did it all.

I chose to reorder my values and placed my career as my highest priority. Why career? because it offered me the financial security, which had really become my hidden greatest priority.

But it was just a matter of time before the negative impact on the other areas of my life started to manifest.

I became exhausted. I didn’t have energy to wake up early enough to exercise.

Meetings during the day were back to back so I never took a lunch break. This was an unwritten rule of the workplace culture.

I didn’t help myself either as I would even often forget to hydrate. Then feel ravenous later on in the day, and grab for a quick sugar fix.

I would say yes, but inwardly feel irritated. Over time my body began to give out.

Sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, left me overweight and exhausted. So I would get back on the treadmill and push myself harder, until the excess stress hormone, created adrenal fatigue. Then IBS, plantar fibroma (painful benign growth on the bottom of my foot), accelerated deterioration in vision, and cataracts. My eyes would water all the time, become painful, I had eye twitching and floaters. My vision would become randomly blurry to the extent that I could not read any text at all, even with glasses.

The following information is taken from an online allaboutvision.com article written by Beth Duff

How stress affects vision

When the body is stressed, your pupils dilate to allow more light to enter so you can see potential threats more clearly. However, high levels of adrenaline can cause pressure on the eyes, resulting in blurred vision.

“Many patients are not always aware of the impact of stress on their visual health and function,” says Barbara Horn, OD and president of the American Optometric Association. “The ocular impact of stress may range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating vision loss.”

Yes, stress may be causing your eye twitching (also known as a lid myokymia) This lid “twitching” is a result of the continuous contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle. The twitching is typically in just one eye, benign and temporary.

Stress also can lead to vision loss. Furthermore, stress not only causes new conditions but worsens existing conditions.

For example, research published in 2018 in the EPMA Journal concludes that ongoing psychological stress and the associated increased level of cortisol are risk factors in the development and progression of deteriorating vision.

The researchers analyzed hundreds of studies and clinical trials, concluding that “while prolonged mental stress is clearly a consequence of vision loss, it may also aggravate the situation.”

 

 

So heath took a bashing.

As I intimated earlier, social life was non-existent. And any ‘free’ time I did have, would be used to binge watch (whatever) or take a nap.

Relationships suffered. Contact with friends largely amounted to short text replies with a meme. Thankfully I had invested heavily in my family, in so many ways so they were pretty forgiving, but the quality of relationships often lacked the depth, I knew each person deserved.

My attitude was not great, and I found myself increasingly becoming overly serious, of low mood and more cynical about life.

The kicker for me was that I was a certified life coach. This had been a side hustle for me, but in my final year at work, I had totally neglected my passion for personal growth.

The turning point came for me when my children, started to express in undeniable ways, that they needed more of Mum’s attention. They were growing up fast, I was missing irretrievable time with them.

I wish I could say that I moved into action immediately. But it’s not in the knowing but in the doing that brings about the change we want.

I decided to get a live in au pair. I thought this would relieve some pressure. But it did not work. It turned out to be one more person I became responsible for.” Maybe (I told myself), I just need to be a bit more selective in the recruitment process next time, and identify carefully an au pair that demonstrates more initiative, and can get on with it without needing to constantly consult on every little task”.

So I interviewed again and recruited Bee.

This had to work.  And then the fateful day came, when I received a call at work. It was Bee’s flustered voice saying “Ellie nearly got hit by bus”.

I dropped everything to make my way home. I arrived home to hear her brother excitedly narrate the events of the morning. My daughter resented the presence of an Au pair, so during their outing, walked yards ahead by herself. When Bee observed she was too close to the curb shouted “move away from the edge” my daughter swung around, lost her footing, stumbled onto the busy road. Thankfully there was a big enough gap in oncoming traffic for her to miss being hit by a fast moving double decker bus.

That was all I needed to hear. I appreciated the help of Bee, whilst I worked my 8 week notice period. But it was time to honour my true values. Health and Family first. I embraced my passion for personal growth. And hired a coach. I began to see changes immediately. I then arrived at a decision that was 7 years overdue. I set up my coaching practice, to help other women arrive at decisions for themselves which lead to a better quality of life.

If this is the help you need. Contact me to arrange a chat, and arrange a complimentary clarity coaching session.