It was 3 a.m. when I woke up to go to the bathroom. Out of nowhere, my legs started shaking uncontrollably, and I thought to myself, “Am I having a seizure?” I had never had one in my life before, but the more I tried to gain control over my legs, the more I lost control. Eventually I hit the floor. That’s when the shaking stopped.
I waved the incident off as a onetime event since I didn’t have a prior history of seizures. I didn’t think it was enough to worry about. I assumed it was a fluke.
But a couple months later, it happened again. So I started listening to my body…
Stress ‘seizures’ are not normal
Anxiety can cause feelings of numbness or weakness in the limbs, especially during intense anxiety or panic attacks. However, it’s not the same as seizures. If you suspect you have had, or may be having a seizure, please see a doctor for a diagnosis.
During both of these episodes, I was conscious but without control, which seemed to be a metaphor for my life at the time: I was fully aware of my day-to-day, but had no agency over the path I was creating for myself.
I had what I thought was my dream job as the director of a dance non-profit. I loved what I did and I had an incredible boss, but over time, I felt stuck. My salary was low. I felt bad asking for time off, and I didn’t feel passionate about the work anymore.
I felt like I had lost control of what I most wanted: to feel happy and fulfilled every single day helping women go for their dreams.
In hindsight, and while I was never officially diagnosed, the stress of betraying my purpose in life was becoming obvious. There were plenty more subtle ways my body was being pointing in the right direction. Here are five signs I would recognize now as someone possibly betraying their calling.
My burnout led to me acting out in different ways. I could hardly get up in the mornings. I frequently snapped at people around me and felt overwhelmingly caged in. And before I quit my job, I had the shakes (as mentioned above), a serious case of pink eye, and a skin infection my doctors had never seen before.
To me, my body was, quite literally, revolting.
Ever since I quit that job and started my own business, I’ve hardly gotten sick. At most, I get a cold once a year. If you’re getting sick more frequently or more seriously, or if your behavior is shifting in ways you don’t like, these could be signs that your current situation is not the healthiest.
Think about change, and if the idea brings relief, consider making the change.
Don’t chalk symptoms up to “work stress”
Your brain may be using physical symptoms to send a message about anxiety or depression, which only a professional can diagnose. However ongoing symptoms like infections and seizures can be a sign of a neurological problem at play. See a doctor!
I had the liberty of working from home and living in a foreign country. There were many perks that could be considered incomparable, which lead me to believe it couldn’t get better. My mentality was, “It’s this, or a 9 to 5.” But now I know that’s not true.
Anytime you need to rely on logic to persuade yourself that you’ve got the “dream job” or “ideal situation,” you usually don’t. I spent years trying to talk myself into staying, saying things like, “People would kill for this job, why would I walk away?”
And if I even entertained the thought of leaving, I immediately went to, “If not this, then what?” But your body will speak louder than your thoughts when something is not the right fit.
If you have a sinking feeling in your stomach, get anxious easily, or have a sense of resentment whenever you stop convincing yourself, then it’s not, what I call, a full body yes.
If you ever scroll through Instagram and feel your body tense up when you see someone “living the dream,” then pause for a minute. Instead of thinking their life isn’t real, dig deeper, because that jealousy might actually be shining a light on where you most want to go.
Ask yourself: “What about this person do I most want to integrate into my own life? How have they built their life and career, and what could I see myself trying out? What other opportunities are available to create my dream life?”
When your alarm goes off, pay attention to the thoughts in your head and how you feel. It’s normal to have days where you’d rather hit snooze, but if you spend every morning dreading your commute or the moment you clock in, see if there’s a way to make your day-to-day experience more joyful.
For example, are there podcasts, meditations, or playlists that help you feel more amped for the day? Is there a way to make your office space more calming or exciting?
If these changes still feel like a Band-Aid to the real problem, list out other jobs or experiences that excite you and map out an action plan to make it happen.
The most important part of changing your circumstances is to be aware of what exactly you want to change. Think about what feels good in your job and what could stem from that passion.
What images come to mind when you think about the day of your dreams? When you think of who you want to serve through your gifts and talents, who comes to mind? And, perhaps most importantly, what ideas feel good to you right now?
When I thought about what I loved about my job, I listed out these things: working from home, mentoring college-age women on their next steps after graduating, and having the ability to do work from anywhere. Where I really shined, though, was talking to women about their dreams and what ideas they wanted to bring to life, which eventually led to me becoming a life and business coach.
Keep tabs on the activities and projects that you feel most excited about, it might lead to a different career, or even your own business, in the future.
It’s also important to treat yourself and your circumstances with compassion. Don’t beat yourself up about not being exactly where you want to be right now. Change takes time and can be broken down into baby steps that feel good to you now.
If a sudden, rash decision like quitting your job doesn’t feel right, don’t force it. You’ll know when it’s time to move on.
Until then, keep tuning in to your body and take excellent care of yourself.
Kimberly Lucht is a life and business coach who helps women make bank doing what they love. She’s been featured in Money, Well + Good, Business Insider, and currently lives in New York City. Click here to get her free business roadmap.