DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working so much that I am utterly exhausted. I have a great job, and I serve in a leadership role in two volunteer organizations. I love what I do, but I think I am spreading myself too thin. A couple of weeks ago, I had a panic attack. I ended up in the hospital because my blood pressure was going through the roof. I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know what to do. But I’m worried. Right now, things are OK, but the doctors told me that I have to slow down, or else I could end up in the hospital again. I think that means I should let go of something, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to stop my volunteer work, but I need a job to afford the volunteer time. -- Betwixt, Detroit
DEAR BETWIXT: Consider what just happened to you as both a blessing and a wake-up call. A panic attack could have been something much worse. You must be still long enough to figure out what you need to release from your life. You already know that something has to go. If your heart tells you that it should be your job, then make a plan. Perhaps you can take a leave of absence from both of your volunteer positions so that you can focus on finding a new paying job. Once you find something that better suits your needs and interests, you can resume the volunteering. Consider doing one volunteer job at a time.
You must put yourself first: Change your diet, increase your exercise, find calming things to do that support your overall health. You have to be your priority. Otherwise, it all goes away.