My Job Was to Help People Avoid Stress: Why It Stressed Me Out

This entrepreneur learned to relax — despite losing $20K.

As one whose career centers on supporting people through job searches and career pivots, I see daily the toll that stress and anxiety can take on even the most put-together professionals. It’s my job to teach them strategies and tactics that will not only move them forward but also show them the value of taking a few deep breaths as they progress through their journey.

Funnily enough, my laser focus on helping others find some zen as they grow their careers nearly derailed my own job (and wallet) last year. With National Relaxation Day coming up on Aug. 15, I decided to fess up and share my story.

Read More: How I Take Care of My Mental Health Without Going Broke 

The Storm That Forced the Calm

I’ve been an entrepreneur for 15 years. I’ve spent the past eight growing a nationally recognized job-search consultancy and career blog. The hours have been long, but the rewards have been many — so many, in fact, that for years I simply ignored my mounting exhaustion and kept plugging along.

That is, until I started having mysterious, unresolvable cloudiness and pain in my left eye. It not only disrupted my ability to stare at a computer for hours on end, but it began to give me a sense of panic. Was I ruining one of my most critical professional assets — my sight? My anxiety ultimately led me to a doctor’s examining room, which, in turn, led to a diagnosis. It turns out that I’d developed a hearty case of computer vision syndrome. And the cure? Stop staring at the screen and let it heal.

Fantastic.

More on Getting Some Rest: Recharge at These Affordable Retreats

The $20,000+ Hiatus

Since the majority of my one-on-one client work involves producing résumés, LinkedIn profiles and cover letters, there was simply no way to follow the doctor’s orders without temporarily closing this arm of my business. After I got done freaking out about this reality, I announced the closure and prayed that it would be just a couple of weeks.

Well, full recovery ended up taking nearly two months. This translated into more than $20,000 in lost revenue for my business. Turns out that my inability (ahem, unwillingness) to give myself the same breaks and breathers that I demand my clients take — for fear that I’d miss out on opportunities — made me miss out on plenty of opportunities. Hello, irony.

Related: 7 Free Ways to Relieve Stress

Huge Lesson Learned

We all talk a big game about the importance of self-care and relaxation, but are we really living up to that talk? It turns out, I wasn’t, so my body decided to force the issue. It was both scary and expensive.

If you’re one who burns the candle at both ends at all times, I vote that you take a pause on National Relaxation Day. In fact, I vote that you build some regular chillax time into every week, no matter how many obligations you have.

Take a walk. Lie in a hammock. Read for pleasure. Download a meditation app. There are so many things you can do to dial it down for a while, many of which require only a few minutes and cost nothing.

Today, I build at least a couple of quick breaks into every day. I’m more relaxed, more productive and I can see out of both eyes like a champ. It was a $20,000 lesson, but one I won’t soon forget.

Read More: The No. 1 Cause of Financial Stress in Every State

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