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How to manage chaos before it turns into a crisis

By Brigid Wash, General Manager, Golden Door Elysia, Health Retreat and Spa. As seen on

We have a great saying at Golden Door; health is either your greatest asset or your greatest liability. Yet it’s not until we are in a health crisis that suddenly our health becomes our most valued possession.

For some reason as humans we keep pushing ourselves. We are addicted to life, its chaos and crazy speed and then WHAM the universe gives us a huge uppercut. Down we fall…

I have met over 14,000 guests during my time with Golden Door and many were either on the path of self-destruction or had already fallen over. I have a simple, poignant message that I have shared with many of them; don’t take your health for granted. I should know because I took my own health for granted and I suffered the consequences. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming. All the warning signs were there, but I was a stoic, determined, career-minded perfectionist, bulletproof. One day at work I started crying, I was more emotional than usual. I wasn’t sleeping well, I had lots on my mind. I found it hard to concentrate, my neck and shoulders were tight and on some days, the very stressful days, my guts hurt and I got the runs. Over time, weeks, then months these symptoms snowballed, my body went into overdrive, I couldn’t breathe. I had chronic anxiety and full blown panic attacks. My life had changed, not for the worse, for the better. I just didn’t know it at the time. The three things that really helped me during this time were:

1)      Getting help and learning cognitive behaviour therapy
2)      Learning how to meditate and
3)      Getting my fitness back

I have learnt that the chaos rarely goes away, it is still in my life just as it is probably in yours. The important message however is that even with the chaos and the challenges we can still live a healthy, inspired and fulfilled life, you just need to know your SIGNS and know what to DO when you recognise them.

SIGNS to watch out for:

·         Regularly waking up in the middle of the night with things on your mind
·         Lack of focus, concentration
·         Irritable, emotional, moody
·         Loose or irregular bowel movements
·         Increased breath rate, becoming anxious
·         Tight muscles especially in the neck and shoulders
·         Overwhelmed
·         Depressed, withdrawn, feeling helpless.

Please note, everyone’s signs can vary. Investigate your tell-tale signs.

What to DO?

Have a baseline ritual of self-care. I say baseline because when things get crazy busy your baseline is your non-negotiable commitment to yourself. These are the things you will stick to regardless of what else is going on in your life, preferably practiced on the same day and time each week. A baseline ritual will help prevent you reaching that tipping point from chaos to crisis.

Example of my baseline ritual:

·         1 breathing meditation practice a week
·         1 self-yoga/stretch practice a week
·         1 brisk walk (or form of cardio) a week
·         Healthy eating at least 80% of the time.

Physical activity, meditation and eating well are an important part of my life and these are also evidence- based strategies for dealing with stress. When the pressure is off I bump these rituals up and add in more, it could be reading, journaling, golf or swimming.  Everyone’s rituals will be different so find the things that best work for you and find those people in your life who share similar health values to support you. Make a pact with a work colleague or friend to look out for each other’s SIGNS and help keep each other accountable. Don’t take your health for granted.

People often say that they don’t have time to exercise or meditate or eat healthily, but I believe that if we don’t have time to look after ourselves, we had better make sure we have time to be sick. Our health is our greatest asset and wealth. We cannot enjoy any part of our lives without it.

Article by Brigid Wash, General Manager, Golden Door Elysia, Health Retreat and Spa.

Please note: This blog is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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