Discipline is a funny thing.
Where does it come from?
Why is it always so hard to hold on to?
For a long time, maintaining my health in the face of such a potentially crippling disorder like Meniere’s disease required so much of me. I kept strict routines and exercised ruthless discipline over my body and mind. I maintained a strict adherence to my diet and nutrition, meditated daily, exercised regularly, and so much more, all in the name of fighting for my health.
But lately, I feel myself getting complacent.
Even though I’ve been doing well, I’m starting to notice fraying at the edges of my health. There are subtle warning signs that I’ve tried to ignore but give me the sense that I’m losing my grasp on the things that got me here in the first place.
My meditative practice has become sporadic causing my anxiety and stress levels to start creeping back up. I’m reading less and watching more TV. I feel more introverted and am spending less energy and time on my friendships and relationships. And I’ve been too hard on myself, constantly pushing myself past my limitations in an effort to be better and achieve more.
Fortunately, at this point, it’s just a feeling. A sense that something is wrong and needs to be fixed now, before it becomes a problem. But I can see that my life has been out of balance for a while now.
Regardless of where you are in your journey with Meniere’s disease, it can be difficult to maintain balance in your life.
But it’s so important to try.
And if you pay close enough attention, there will be clues and lessons to learn along the way.
Taking on too much at once:
One of my biggest struggles with Meniere’s disease is that I never have enough mental energy to achieve everything I want to achieve. Brain fog and fatigue are always waiting in the wings, ready to strike me down at a moments notice.
But despite this fact, over the years, I’ve learned a lot about time and energy management and have been able to increase my productivity. I’m able to get more done in less time and with less energy. The problem is that I still end up pushing myself too hard.
Lately, this has meant taking on too many projects at once. Aside from my regular work, I have been putting more time and energy into Mind Over Meniere’s, volunteering for VEDA, writing a new book about learning to live with Tinnitus, as well as getting ready to launch a brainwave entrainment audio meditation program (built with the same technology as the Symptom Relief Project). It’s a lot, and I’ve been forced to face the fact that I can’t multi-task like I used to.
To be clear, I’m not complaining. I’m incredibly grateful that I’m able to get work done at all. It wasn’t always like this. There was a long time when I was extremely limited in what I could accomplish in a day and had no hope that anything would ever change. But even then, finding a sense of balance was important, only with the scales tipped in the opposite direction. Focusing on my declining health over everything else only led to a feeling of despair.
The problem today is that in my drive to do more, I’ve neglected the parts of my life and health that are responsible for my success in the first place. I know I need to be easier on myself and shift my priorities in a way that will restore a healthy balance.
Lesson Learned: We need to be realistic in our expectations and not be so hard on ourselves. We have to constantly assess our priorities and make adjustments when necessary to restore a healthy balance in our lives, one way or another.
Pro Tip: When you are forced to make hard choices on how to spend your energy, this simple mental exercise can help you clarify your thinking. If the opportunity or activity you are considering is not a “Hell yeah!” then it’s probably a no.
Maintain healthy habits for balance:
If you have Meniere’s disease, one of the most valuable skills you can cultivate is learning where and when to spend the limited amount of energy you do have. In a lot of ways, it’s about learning to manage your priorities and focusing on the actions that have the biggest impact and return on investment.
There are a lot of things you can do to improve your health, both directly and indirectly, but you won’t be able to do everything. The good news is that there are certain high-value targets that you can focus on to improve your health and quality of life, while restoring balance at the same time.
For me, it’s always boiled down to three things: meditation, creative expression, and learning. And yet knowing this hasn’t prevented me from losing these habits.
Meditation has always been a cornerstone of my approach to treating Meniere’s disease. It enables me to take control of my stress levels and lower my anxiety. It taught me to control my thoughts and focus deeply on the task the hand. Meditation also acts as a force multiplier in my treatment, sending ripples outward to make everything else I was doing more effective.
Creative expression, which has taken the form of writing, is the one thing I haven’t let slip. It enables me to exercise my mind and creative muscles. It’s also given me an outlet to share my pain, experiences, and triumphs with others, adding purpose and meaning to my life.
My desire to learn has always been another force multiplier in my Meniere’s disease treatment. It’s given me the raw material to shape new ideas and concepts that have helped me improve my health, while also opening doors to new experiences and opportunities.
It’s become painfully clear to me that I’ve lost sight and appreciation for what ultimately matters most in my life. Change never comes easily, but I’m taking steps to get back to the basics.
Lesson Learned: We need to be conscious of where we spend our energy and how it is affecting us. To maintain balance, we need to make sure we have a strong foundation. We need to focus on and nurture the things that have the greatest impact in our lives, whether that be meditation, art, music, learning, nature, spending quality time with a loved one, a fulfilling hobby, or otherwise.
It’s been a strange few weeks.
I’ve been able to get so much accomplished, but it’s been at the expense of my health. And while this might be an acceptable tradeoff from time to time, it’s not sustainable.
I’ve allowed several of my most important habits to slip away as my life shifted further and further out of balance. But at the same time, I’ve learned enough along the way to see the warning signs and to start taking action. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get myself back on track.
Whether you are in a good place, or actively struggling, I encourage you to take a closer look at your life, too. Because when your life is out of balance, and you actually notice, you can do something about it.
At the end of the day, it’s not about perfection.
It’s about moving forward and what you choose to learn along the way.