We all face obstacles.

A controlling parent, a cheating colleague, lying clients or a bullying boss.

When you’re in it, especially if stress and difficulty come from multiple sides, it can feel like the most miserable isolation. But the truth is that none of us is alone. We all struggle.

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So, what do you do when the pressure becomes relentless and you start to feel like you’re drowning in negativity?

[quote_box_center]You don’t drown in water by being in it. You drown in water by staying in it. – Edwin Louis Cole[/quote_box_center]

Many years ago, I was in just such a place – drenched in deep, extreme negativity. The enormous personal stress resulted in my losing 50 lbs. in a month. I couldn’t eat – my body wouldn’t allow it.  My insides felt shaky – like I’d swallowed a phone stuck on vibrate. And all I could think about was the very difficult circumstance that was turning my heart inside out.

Then something happened that changed my life.

A friend noticed and did something. She saw what a mess I was and how it was damaging my body.

“You need to go to a doctor!” she said.

I insisted that I didn’t – that I could handle it. She insisted more and made me go. She drove me to the doctor’s office. She sat with me in the room. She forced me to get help.

And it rescued me.

Most of the stress and difficulty we face in our work and relationships isn’t that extreme. But it’s critical to recognize when we’re maxed out on stress and negativity, and to take action before we make things worse – for others and for ourselves.

I was lucky that time to have a friend not only notice, but then help me initiate change. We can’t wait for a masked hero to arrive, though. Most of the time we have to be our own friend, noticing that we are a mess and that something has to give.

I don’t know why we find it so hard to give ourselves permission to be wounded; to feel hurt. I’ve got news for you: humans hurt, hearts break and we’re not robots who can flick a switch to make it all stop.

Healing can only happen when we realize we need it.

Needing help does not mean you’re weak. In fact, it’s what’s going to strengthen you. Admitting your wounds is itself an act of strength and the next step to progress – no guilt required. Give yourself permission to need help.

There is a time to take a break. When you’re slammed from all different sides, it’s tough to pull out a smile. We have to recognize when our bodies, emotions and thoughts need a break.

When we are in a bad mental state, we’re probably not the most effective in our work and relationships anyway. We need to invest in our own well being with the gift of a rest.

Know that your rest and recharge time doesn’t have to look like sunbathing on a beach in Cancun. It doesn’t have to be two weeks long. Do and be what refreshes you.

For some, it’s going to be retreating to a cabin with a stack of romance novels. For others it looks like camping out in a recliner for a few days, refusing to cook or clean, so their body can heal.

Recently, I took a break to recharge, and spent that time attending classes, learning online, brainstorming my brand positioning and product development. That – especially the brand positioning and marketing – is what revives my motivation. It refreshes my confidence in my abilities to excel and fires me up to work with renewed gusto.

What refreshes you will be different than what works for others and that’s okay. I’m curious – how to you recharge when facing obstacles?


  1. Tina, this is probably the most important Must-Read for all that are self employed. Anyone can experience burnout and likely few have the fortitude to make changes in their life to eliminate it. Self employed does not have to mean that you cannot take at least one day a week to recharge. The hardest part is to take that day “guilt free” and to feel you have the right to say when asked of your time that you are booked that day or time and offer an alternative outside of your “me time”. Just like financial planners say Pay Yourself First, schedule your times and days off in advance so the next time you have a demand for your time you avoid the inner struggle of accommodating it and leaving yourself on the sidelines. This goes for family and friend time too. They are what life is about and a happier life results in a more effective professional You. Unless it is an offer to deal with, all other demands can certainly be scheduled at a different time. Than you for sharing your experience and insight. You are an inspiration.

    • I didn’t take any days in the early years. I get why it is very hard to take a day or forward your phone. Most won’t see the value until they are exhausted.
      When we clarify expectations with our clients from the beginning and let them know which day we are unavailable then they actually respect that. They all get a day off and they respect it.

  2. I really liked this article as it’s something that really spoke to me. I recently changed jobs because I was physically, emotionally and psychologically drained and wounded. It was a difficult decision as any major life change is but in the end it was the best for me and my family. I knew I was in trouble but was smiling through it until I really physically hurt myself and was forced off work. When I finally did leave and change to a great new job that’s when I realized how bad I was – there was this enormous weight that lifted from my shoulders, my mind and my heart. I’m starting on a new foot and really trying to pace myself and be a new me – one that balances life & work without guilt. It’s a strange feeling but I’m liking it!

    • Tamara, I am saddened to hear that you suffered exhaustion like that. That is great news that you have a fresh start elsewhere. I hope you will be fulfilled both in and out of your work.

  3. I like to take a ‘personal day’ and do whatever I feel like at the time – hiking, sleeping, vegging on the couch watching T.V., whatever – without any shame or guilt. Taking care of myself is a top priority because it allows me to be more effective on my ‘on days’. I love that you wrote “When we are in a bad mental state, we’re probably not the most effective in our work and relationships anyway. We need to invest in our own well being with the gift of a rest”. This is SO true. I used to push and push myself and that just made things worse. Learned the hard way that personal time and rest is part of the equation to success :)

    • Good for you Carmen. You earned it. Your family deserves it. Your clients will respect it. I hope someone who reads what you wrote will be inspired to start taking some regular personal time as well. I take one day off a week and forward my calls. When I meet a new client I let them know which day I take off and who is taking my calls that day and they respect it. Having someone in place to deliver an offer or show a house gives me assurance that my work is not neglected and then I can rest.


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