How to Deal with Ups and Downs (and end up on Top)

There was a time in my life when I thought I could do anything I wanted without consequences. I would work for days on end without leaving my apartment. It was all about output quantity and speed. I didn't work out, and I would skip meals regularly if that meant working an extra thirty minutes on my projects. 

In all honesty, I was moving forward pretty quickly, but I had no idea what was ahead of me. 

In a matter of a few months, I noticed that my sleep was becoming very light. I'd wake up with the tiniest noises, and it would take me a long time to fall back asleep. That problem put me in a constant state of sleep deprivation. I was getting a lot of headaches, and I found it hard to stay awake during the day, especially in the afternoon. I hated how I couldn't stay focused for long, so I started drinking more and more coffee. Caffeine would help for a bit, but then I was back to square one, just a little more jittery. All that coffee made it even harder to fall asleep and stay asleep when it was time to rest. 

This lifestyle was a ticking bomb, and the signs were there all along. I had just decided to ignore them. 

One morning I woke up with extreme chest pains and heart palpitations. I had never felt this way before. I was scared and freaked out. My mind started running wild, imagining the worst case scenarios and I couldn't understand why so much dedication and hard work could lead me in such pain and discomfort.

That moment was the beginning of a burn out that set me back by almost a year. After several months of anxiety and high blood pressure, I found it very hard to do quality work. I knew something needed to change. 

I first wanted to tackle my stress problem, so I started meditating again. I also decided to introduce some planned downtime, a healthy meal plan, supplementation and daily exercise. Here's what I found. 

1. Meditation: As soon as I resumed my 12 minutes meditation routine (yes, only 12 minutes!), I felt more aware of my thought patterns. I finally had the time to clear out my mind and reset my brain. It felt so good to be awake without thinking about what to do next. 

2. Planned downtime: introducing a 90-minute window in my calendar to do whatever I like was life-changing. I picked up so many things that I loved doing but that I had convinced myself I had no time for. One of them was writing, which I am doing right now. 

3. Healthy meal-prepping: Eating healthy home-made meals is time-consuming, so I decided to make five lunches and five dinners on Sundays and enjoy a week worth of delicious food ready in 5 minutes or less. Eating regular meals gave me more energy and that stamina that I needed to work better. 

4. Supplementation: Although supplements can't make up for an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, they make a big difference when you want to optimize your energy levels and overall wellbeing. Your best bet is to get some bloodwork down to find out if you have any particular deficiency. Most deficiencies present subtle symptoms, but once you tackle them, you will feel the difference. In my case, I noticed a significant improvement in my energy and concentration levels.

5. Daily exercise: By adding just 30 minutes of cardio or weights to your day, you will notice an instant boost in energy and mood without mentioning the sense of accomplishment that you get every time you leave the gym. If you don't want to go to a gym, do bodyweight exercises at home. The point is to sweat and get your heart rate over 150 bpm. 

When I introduced this new schedule, I felt like I was taking on a bit too much, but in no time, I realized that by taking care of myself better, I was able to give my 100% to any project that I took on. The lesson I learned is that I needed to take care of myself before I could take care of business. When I felt that self-love, my body and my mind were in the right place, and everything seemed possible. There was no room for stress and anxiety, just confidence, determination and a sustainable sense of well-being I had never felt before. 

If you feel like you have been struggling with finding a productive lifestyle without burning out, shoot me an email at deniero@denierob.com. I'd love to hear your story and help you figure out what works best for you. We are all different, and our schedules may vary, but with a bit of effort and consistency, you can instill new habits and fast track your path to success. 

Deniero Bartolini