August 08, 2012

Original Artwork. Kajal Dhabalia

This summer, my friend Renee Burke, of Happily Ever After, put together an awesome series on self-care and wellness. This project features various artists and their thoughts/ experiences on what has worked for them when it comes to their mind, body and spirit. So when she asked if I’d be interested, I was thrilled to be a part of such a thoughtful series. THANK YOU Renee!

To begin with, I love the name of this series: sumMEr of ME. I like to read it as “Some of Me”….all year long :).

Last week my sister sent me an interesting article on burnout by Ms. Martha Beck where she says:

There’s no specific medical disorder called burnout, but every doctor knows that prolonged stress has negative consequences. One of these is adrenal fatigue, which comes from overstimulating the hormones that fuel high-energy behavior. Initially, it feels fabulous—you can work like Hercules, compensating for exhaustion with adrenaline, caffeine, or straight-up willpower. But eventually your high-activity hormones run low. You slow down while trying to speed up. Illness, memory loss, and accidents replace achievement.

I’m sure all of all us have felt some of these things at some point or another. I bring this up because so often burnout can be mislabeled as depression…when in reality…sometimes we just need to learn how to say no, not feel guilty about it and truly learn to make time to take care of ourselves…

Self care is one of the most POWERFUL, yet often overlooked medicines out there. A few years ago I had just gotten married and at the same time was just starting my dream job of managing a volunteer-based, international yoga organization (an organization which I am still completely devoted to and in LOVE with). I was working an insane amount of hours at the center and was trying to balance my new relationship; life as a wife :).

In the process I forgot about ME….the light inside me dimmed.

I “didn’t have time” to focus on my mind…all my journaling stopped, all my art stopped…and the little free time I had I wanted to spend with my new hubbie or catch up on sleep.

I “didn’t have time” to focus on my spirit….meditation? yoga? I was too busy running the center, scheduling meetings, crossing things off my to-do list… :).

And I definitely “didn’t have time” to focus on my body….my very own temple was neglected. Working out, going for hikes, going for a swim, hanging out with friends or even just myself….when? And as for sleep- it was minimal during the week and catch up time during the weekends when I wasn’t working. In this process, my once good eating habits went right out the window; I always skipped lunch and was starving by the time I got home, which meant that I wanted to devour whatever was in sight.

I’ve always LOVED cooking, so cooking became my decompressor…which can be a good thing….unless you let stress dictate what you’re making and how often :)…..cakes, cheesy pasta dishes and a variety of different comfort foods are good…ONCE in a while and in MODERATION. However, comfort eating when stressed usually doesn’t involve “once in a while” or “moderation” :).

When you drive your body to such a deep level of stress and exhaustion…you’re eventually going to FEEL the consequences by which time you’ll have no choice but to have to DEAL with them…is it really worth getting to that point if you can avoid it? As Martha Beck puts it, “It may seem admirable to work yourself sick, but the longer you burn the candle at both ends, the faster you’ll burn out”.

Ultimately, my biggest lesson was just that. Burning my candle on both ends did not do anything positive for me or for the greater good.

I learned that no matter how much I love my work, a person, a good cause….none of it is worth forgetting about myself. I’m not saying this in narcissistic or selfish way…but just in a really loving way because in my experience and observations of myself and others: when you take the time to take care of yourself, you can actually help more people, in much healthier way. However, when you “burn out”, you’re basically neglecting taking care of yourself, which then often leads to developing bad habits, resentments and poor health….that can all eventually lead to a low self-esteem; at which point there’s a domino effect from there.

In the process of burning my candle on both ends, I was not only emotionally/ mentally exhausted, but my body to this day, truly has never been the same. In my case, I developed an auto immune disease called Hashimotos, which really made rethink how I wanted to live my life….

At some point we have to stop and listen to the whispers in our heart and messages that are body’s are constantly sending us…and for times when we aren’t fully tuned into those….it’d be in our best interest to be open to the concern that loved ones often try to share with us when they see us heading in a direction that we’re too tired to see.

I am NOW so grateful for my “burnout” experience because it has given me an opportunity to really step back, re-evaluate my life and do some things differently; hindsight really is 20/20. The biggest changes I’ve made are:


I’ve reinstated my daily yoga and meditation practice….this makes my heart sing daily. Meditation can do AMAZING things for your mind, body and soul. Just 20 minutes a day can make you feel like a brand new person…the best part is, not only will you notice the change, but the people around you will, too.


I’ve started working out at the gym again…I’m feeling so much stronger than I have in a long time, not to mention I have a lot more energy.


I’m still cooking more that ever :), but am changing a lot of the ingredients to a lot of my comfort foods to make them healthier and at the same time I’m trying to learn the art of “moderation”….not only is this fun and but it definitely inspires my creativity.


I’m making art a bigger part of my life….I’m painting, writing, doing more graphic design work…so that one day I can be a FULL-TIME artist :).


And I’m seeking out friends that feed all the things I listed above and that exude HAPPINESS and LOVE. We get to make choices everyday and CHOOSING the people you surround yourself with is one of the most important things you can do for yourself….so surround yourself with people who are going to LOVE and INSPIRE you.

Best of all, through this whole experience I was able to uncover my “SOUL MISSION”… to really define what’s important to me and how I want those things to influence my life on a daily basis…and that was the inspiration behind creating this blog Wholesome Soul (www.wholesomesoul.com)….a blog dedicated to everyday yogini’s and yogi’s that are trying to find balance in the world through yoga, food and art.

In short, life's too short to neglect nurturing our mind, body and especially our soul's....
because when we're lit from within...we have the ability to light the whole world up!


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