Last week I dislocated my shoulder in my sleep. That's right - while I was sleeping. I woke up screaming and nearly scared my husband to death. Then I calmed down and slowly relocated it myself. Talk about painful.
Over the last few years my shoulder has dislocated while I was sleeping, putting a glass in the sink, swimming and even getting my nails done. I have found that it often happens when I have been very stressed out. I dislocated it in PT school right before I was taking my board exam, during my residency, the week before I got married and right after my son was born. At each of these points in my life I knew I was doing too much and pushing myself too hard, yet I did not listen, and it was my body that forced me to stop in my tracks and take a break.
Do you ever ignore your warning signs and push yourself until something breaks?
I am getting ready to go on a six week sabbatical to Italy with my husband and son. Over the last month, I have been pushing myself harder than I typically do so that I know my business and my life will be “in order” to go. Over the last few years, I have been working really hard to change my habits and take more time for myself, shedding my perfectionist tendencies and listening to my body – but even as good as I am about it I still periodically slip back into old habits.
When I dislocated my shoulder last week it was another “a ha” moment. The entire week after I dislocated my shoulder I couldn’t treat patients. Luckily, my colleague Dustin was able to help me out and pick up some of the slack! I wasn’t able to go to my regular yoga classes, and my husband even had to help me wash and blow dry my hair. I went from doing far too much to almost nothing at all.
Doing too much ended up slowing me down.
As with many things that happen in my life I found myself thinking. Why do we always push ourselves so hard right before we are going away? Isn’t vacation supposed to be about relaxing and taking time for ourselves? Why didn't I listen to my body? I had the warning signs - I was exhausted, staying up too late and getting up too early doing work; the dishes were piled high in the sink. Did I know I was doing too much?
The answer is yes, I did. I just didn't listen. Are you listening to your body? Are you taking on too much?
In my last blog on rest and recoveryI briefly mentioned how stress in our daily lives can negatively impact our rest and recovery as athletes. Even if you are not an athlete, stress can impact your health negatively. Dislocating my shoulder was simply one version of what can happen. For others, they get sick, tear their hamstring or end up with serious chronic diseases.
We need to stop the madness! Taking time for ourselves, slowing down from time to time and listening to our bodies needs to become a priority. In a culture that considers being exhausted a sign of success, where people's reputations thrive on doing too much and pushing too hard, we need to take a stand.
My shoulder dislocating forced me to stop and reassess what I was taking on in my life. It reminded me that my to do list is not as important as my health.
What are you doing to reduce your stress? Or take your life back? Don't wait until you get injured or sick before you do something about it.
Here are a few blogs we have posted in the past by Dr. Shawn Haywood that may give you some insight on how to live a less stressful, more meaningful life now...before stress causes your shoulder to dislocate or worse.
More Success Or More Meaning?
The illusion of work life Balance
Five Ways to Fall in Love with Life.
Don't Stress, Get Happy! Here's How...