I used to be such an all or nothing person. In most areas of my life I lived from one extreme to another.

I’d be the last one standing at a night out, drinking lots – often encouraging more and not wanting the night to end, I would be tee-total and being super strict on the latest diet I decided to embrace whether it was juicing, paleo or macrobiotic. While working as a freelancer, I’d do long hours packing in as many different jobs as possible with no breaks, then I would completely neglect work, even having to call in sick on occasion and just rest and not want to do anything, see or even speak to anyone for a few days. When it came to my love life I’d go through periods of trying to find a relationship by spending hours on dating apps and going on as many dates as possible, then I’d delete all my apps and not want to see another guy for months.

You get the picture.

But, it didn’t take long for this way of living to catch up on me. I could already feel how tired I was all the time, but then I started to get stomach pains, followed by small bouts of diarrhoea. At first I would self-medicate with a quick fix pill so it wouldn’t get in the way of my life and what I wanted and felt I needed to be doing. However, this wasn’t a solution and things continued to get worse until it got so bad at one point I stopped taking public transport (which is essential living and working in London) as I feared I would have an accident. I’d have to carefully plan where I would be when I was out in case I needed the bathroom suddenly. Finally, I had my stomach checked and was referred to numerous doctors. I had blood tests done to see if I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or was perhaps gluten intolerant, but they all came back negative.

We live in a world where it’s seen to be normal, or even expected, to keep pushing, keep striving. Coupled with our work-hard, play-hard way of living we are always looking for the next quick fix, or a fast solution to anything that isn’t in alignment with that way of thinking or being. Who has the time to stop and look at what might be causing something to happen when there’s a pill to fix it fast, and even better push it to the back of your mind?! We often want results right away!

Now, I am all for working hard and enjoying life, and absolutely giving something my all when I do something, which is why I embraced that way of living for so long. But the problem is that it’s not sustainable over the long-term and eventually something has to give. This admittedly happens to some of us quicker than others.

It was only when I slowed way down and really looked at how I was approaching my life, and began to make small changes over time, that my stomach issues began to heal. It began with including more calming activities in my day-to-day and saying no to things I really didn’t want to do. Gradually adopting more healthy habits over time, rather than a radical shift in diet overnight. Learning to make small changes over time and giving myself space, lots of space, to get things done, whereas before I would have powered through.

Of course there are still exceptions to this and times when you have to just get stuff done, but it’s my overall approach which changed. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to not be too hard on myself when I do something that before wouldn’t adhere to my high, restrictive standards.

Learning patience has also been a big part of this experience as it really is the small changes, consistently over time, which add up to the greatest results. Not the dramatic all or nothing approach I once adopted.

Today I am pleased to say I haven’t had any stomach issues for over five years! But it took a lot of time and small, consistent effort to get here.

Is there an area in your life which you know is out of balance? How can you slow down, take a step back or perhaps approach it in a ‘less is more’ way?

Tara runs free 30-day self-care challenges: you can find out more here