I have been self employed for nearly 17 years.
I have worked very long hours doing very demanding work for all those years; and I’ve had my fair share of family issues to deal with too. I rarely take a day off, let alone a holiday. I work way too hard and have done so for years.
In January 2013 I went to the doctor hoping to get a prescription for something to help me sleep. I had not slept properly in months. The doctor tried to take my blood pressure on one machine and thought the machine was broken. She went and got another machine. The first machine wasn’t broken – my blood pressure was 220 over 110 and I was rushed to hospital for fear of a stroke or a heart attack.
The doctor in Emergency gave me a Valium as soon as I arrived because I was so stressed out. It didn’t touch the sides. He gave me another and admitted me to hospital. It took four days for the medical staff to get my blood pressure down to a safe level.
They had to check all my organs because no-one knew how long my blood pressure had been so high.
The doctors said – drink less alcohol, lose weight, don’t work so hard and get healthy. I said – yes of course I would look after myself better ….but I didn’t.
So in January 2014 I went back to my doctor for a prescription for something to help me sleep. The doctor took some blood. When results came back I was given the bad news that my blood pressure was too high and I had some other serious issues that I needed to deal with too.
Basically my doctor read me the Riot Act. She said if I didn’t change my lifestyle I was going to die, maybe not tomorrow but much sooner than I should.
Well, I didn’t have time to die – there are way too many things that I want to do. So, from that moment on I made significant changes in my lifestyle.
Instead of my husband and I enjoying happy hour every night, we went for a walk, I changed my diet and I made sure that I went to bed much earlier.
Initially I couldn’t walk very far but it didn’t take long for my fitness to improve. I walked further and further each day, joined the gym and eventually started running (read “running” very broadly). I ran my first half marathon in August 2015.
Now I do some exercise pretty much every day, even if it’s just taking the dogs for a walk. I don’t eat carbs and I go to bed really early.
I got my life back.
Before 20 January 2014 my colleagues would have said that I was fun, helpful and that busy person you ask to do things for you to make sure it got done; my family would have said I was cranky, stressed out, that I had a very short fuse; that I was rarely fun and sometimes they would have thought I was a bitch. Fair call I say.
Now they would say that I still work way too much, but that I am usually fun, that I am not so stressed out, that I cope with everything so much better. And most importantly, these days I usually sleep like a baby.
Tools Down is about improving the health and wellbeing of tradies. I know tradies. They have been my clients for years. I also know them, because they do what I do – work way too hard most of the time and as a result they don’t look after themselves very well. This impacts on their health, their relationships and, in the long run, their businesses.
So what if I could encourage other self-employed people (in particular tradies) to take some time out to look after themselves?
What if, we could recognise that we all need to take some time to slow down, smell the roses and enjoy life, in order to go faster and to enjoy our relationships with our families.
What if, we could develop relationships with people going through the same things as us, so we could safely share our successes and our stressors – so we could help each other out and keep each other on track.
What if by looking after ourselves better that tradies (and other self-employed people) were less likely to develop depression; less likely to attempt suicide.
What if it meant that tradies felt more connected and engaged at home, with the people that they care about the most.
What if that meant less arguments and happier times and better memories for our kids.
Becoming a Toolie costs only $200 per year. We hold monthly events that are fun and engaging and sometimes even educational. We have great door prizes which are all about pampering you and your loved ones. You also get one hour of advice from me for free on how to manage a conflict situation. Finally, we help out Men’s Sheds because $5 from every ticket from every event goes to Men’s Sheds to help them continue their great work.