An article by Anke Sommer
Not just a trend, but the art of making life more worth living
Not long ago I was counselling a woman whose best friend and colleague had died at the age of only 49. She’d died of exhaustion: her body just couldn’t go on. The diagnosis wasn’t dramatic: it was simply ‘cardiac arrest’.
If you think that couldn’t apply to you, then read the following story:
There was a determined, ambitious woman who was highly respected in her department – but unfortunately she was denied promotion to the next level in the hierarchy for a second time. Each time, it was a man who was chosen to enjoy the privilege despite the fact that these men’s references and results were inferior to those of the ambitious woman. This preyed on her mind, particularly because she had clocked up countless hours of overtime, her department’s results were excellent and her experience was far greater than that of the colleagues who were being promoted.
From now on, her life consisted of nothing but work. Every free moment was spent in brooding, rage and ambition. Her body soon showed signs of neglect: the headaches that barely went away; the unfulfilled longing for a trip to the Baltic Sea to enjoy fresh fish and a glass of wine; the aching limbs caused by the lack of free space in the work-crammed day; the loss of those free mornings when she slept in and breakfast lasted till lunchtime. There was no more strolling through markets and into cafés; no more walks in the woods and fields.
In the end, there was only the emergency doctor declaring her dead and trying to explain the diagnosis to her husband and her shocked colleague.
Our bodies need balance and they use signals to show us when this balance is lost. The older we get, the more strongly our bodies show these signals, because the body’s tolerance of being ignored sinks.
Acceleration of the signals is nature’s gift to us, because it protects us from stress-related illnesses. The good news is that we don’t have to do much in order to benefit from this natural protection.
We simply have to listen when our body sends us signals and to follow them. All the signals flow from one requirement: to enjoy instead of hurry. Take joy from all the beauty around you.
If you’d like to join others in boosting the art of balance, we invite you to take part in our Stress Balance Coaching Workshop, part of our LEADERSHIP Coaching series.