Sometimes we talk of 'waking up' to our brokenness; to the sense that there is something we need to fix in our lives.
For me, this was literal. In March 2014, I woke up on the cold tiles of my kitchen floor, alone, at midnight. An intense pain throbbed through my cheekbone and head. I could not move, or see. I had fainted from exhaustion, falling face first.
I had to undergo intense reconstructive surgery on my broken cheekbone and the bones around my eye. There are now metal plates holding my cheekbone and eye in place.
After the surgery I was bedridden for a month. I couldn't hold or hug my children for 30 days. I felt completely helpless. My surgeon solemnly told me, "You'll never look the same again." In the beginning stages of my recovery, I'd look at my reflection and not recognize the bruised, swollen woman staring back at me. My son was afraid to look at me. I couldn't smile because it hurt and my mouth would not open.
As painful as it was, it was also the greatest lesson of my life.
How did I get here? The week before the accident, my stress levels and exhaustion was at an all-time high. I had been living in a frantic state; juggling motherhood, family life and my career. I was completely exhausted 24/7. But I had no intentions of slowing down. I kept saying, "I just need a break" - meaning, I just need things to slow down. A week later, I got what I was asking for -- but not in the way I'd wanted.
Arianna Huffington, in her book Thrive talks about her personal wake-up call in the form of a broken cheekbone. I realized that I was going through a similar experience.
It took three months to fully recover but the whole event played a very important role: it forced me to pause, take time out, reflect, and truly look at myself and the way I was living. I became an entirely new person.
From my bed, I began to review my life. I examined the way I lived and discovered what was important. Prior to the accident I was trying to find the balance and was failing miserably. I was too exhausted, running on adrenalin and being pulled in different directions by my family, work and obligations.
As I recovered, I read, rested and meditated. I discovered how I wanted to live my life. That meant taking tremendous care of myself and nourishing my body so I felt healthy, energized and strong.
Self-care became the priority. First and foremost, rest and sleep. I had been sleep deprived for five years, since my son was born. I averaged five hours of broken sleep a night. In the beginning, the broken sleep came from waking children; however, in the later years it came from stress and anxiety.
When we sleep our bodies are able to repair every aspect of our physiology and psychology. Since my recovery, I reclaimed my rest. Eight hours of sleep every night has become a non-negotiable. I realize it is a necessity. It makes me more productive, less stressed, able to maintain a healthy metabolism, healthy immune system and gives me more energy and bounce in my step. Exhaustion is no longer a part of the equation.
Meditation is also a priority. It not only helps my mind and body to wind down and fall asleep faster but it has also allowed me to live in alignment and start looking within. I put down my phone, switched off technology, and learnt to follow my inner guidance. I felt a sense of peace and calm like never before.
By taking the time out for myself and doing these simple acts of self-care you, I am no longer unfulfilled, exhausted, running around in a frantic state or on auto-pilot. Instead, I am present, I feel connected to myself, and those around me and for the first time feel like I am living life on purpose. It took a broken face to receive my wake up call but with some positive lifestyle changes and asking the question, "How do I want to live?" you can change the entire trajectory of your life. Before life changes it for you.
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Alicia Hansen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who empowers women all over the world to tumble head-over-heels in love with their lives- again, or for the first time. Through her weekly newsletter and website www.aliciahansen.com.au Alicia leads high-power conversations on empowerment, self-love, health, and more, along with the tools and knowledge women need to bring nourishment into every aspect of their lives.