As a 50-year-old self-confessed perfectionist, I have come to realise that health and family are far more important than running yourself into the ground for your employer.

By Lyn Woods 

In 2016, at the age of 45, after a rollercoaster few years of emotional trauma, leading to illness through stress, I quit my nine-to-five job after 12 years with the same organisation. My employer did not consider my wellbeing and health needs, and my decision to part ways with them turned out to be the best ever. 
I started a five year journey of self discovery and I haven’t looked back. I want to share my findings with you, to help you re-assess your life and priorities to achieve a life better suited to your personal needs and wellbeing.

Review your work-life balance 
Tomorrow is not promised, so make the most of today. I had to make some massive decisions for my wellbeing and running around all day at my stressful job was the first thing that had to change. If you can, explore other alternatives – reduce your hours, work from home, find a job that suits your physical ability or semi-retire. If these aren’t options for you, at least accept more help and be open about your physical or mental limitations with those who need to know.

Gentle exercise 
We’ve all heard the saying: ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it’. It’s so true and so important that you keep moving with low-impact activities such as swimming, strolling, Pilates/yoga, dance, or even the stairs at home or work. But don’t overdo it, that’s not going to benefit you. My therapist continually reminds me to avoid the boom and bust cycle. It’s good advice, although the temptation is to do as much as you can on your good days, in the long run it’s only going to make things worse. 

Medication and natural supplements 
Expect that it may take time to explore and find the ones that are right for you. Some healthcare practitioners will start you off with an antidepressant medication, which can leave you feeling even less able to function than you already can. If your medication isn’t working for you, say so. Don’t be afraid to ask, you deserve better. 

Calming apps and meditation 
Practice breathing techniques, visualising, and getting lost in music. There are lots of different apps out there, some are free and some are not. Give it a try and find one that works for you.

work life balance word cloud – handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffee

Calming extras 
Scented pillow sprays, caffeine-free herbal teas, alcohol-free beverages, and dietary changes might help you. 

Gentle massage 
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune; you can do this at home. Invest in a moisturiser that suits you and if you can reach the pain spots yourself, apply and massage on your most affected areas, if not, enlist the help of a willing friend or family member, or indulge in a spa treatment. Tired and restless legs are my worst affected area so elevating them and massaging with a moisturiser really helps.

Avoid daytime napping
Easier said than done I know but resist if you can as it can improve the quality of your nightly sleep. Try to get into a relaxing bedtime routine, no late night television or mobile devices, a good book is a much better option (although I do have a hard time taking my own advice on this one).  

Take time out for yourself
R&R is the way to go, so take a break from your phone, your boss, your family and find time to do something chilled which you enjoy. Go on, pamper yourself!

Don’t be afraid to say no
If it means looking after yourself when you need to. If you don’t feel up to it, don’t do it, if rest is what you need to recharge your batteries, genuine friends and family will understand.

Will yourself well 
Never underestimate the power of positivity. Focus on your achievements each day, however small; perhaps keep a journal, and congratulate yourself for putting your health first and looking after yourself.

About Lyn Woods…
Lyn Woods is a freelance writer and passionate advocate for social justice. 
Living with invisible disabilities, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, Lyn hopes to inspire others through her writing, research and personal life experiences.
In 2020 Lyn co-founded a small charitable organisation, Confidential Action Against Abuse, which aims to help vulnerable hidden adult victims of abuse.