Have you ever had moments where the layers of life keeping layering on and you begin to feel like the leaning tower of pisa? That you are beginning to topple over too much and it is difficult to straighten up? For the past month and a half that has been me.
In both of my jobs I have been working with people going through tremendous challenges in life. I thought I was taking care of myself yet I kept feeling the drain and strain of it all. Typically I have positive energy with a “let’s do this” each day. However on too many days my waking thoughts were focused on the thought that I could not wait to go to bed to that night. Aaarrgggh. I live my life very much in my moments. I am not a count-down to Friday person. I am what is happening today kind of gal. Yet I was counting to Friday with the best. Hobbling along each day just to get to Friday.
As much as I was trying to do all the things to restore me, my battery was in full drain. It felt like the times an app was draining my iphone within moments. My iphone would be 100% charged and then with one text sent it would be at 5%. In early February the sudden death of a family member where our relationship was complicated, sent a tidal wave of emotional layers to my already layered life. There was a week off from work coming up around the corner, so while I felt the need to take a day or two off from work prior to this week off, my decision was to wait.
Sometimes in life there are moments we need to push through. Sometimes in life there are moments we need to halt. For better, or worse, I choose the push.
So this past week with no work, tons of snow and cold, I halted. Hardcore stop. Sleeping until my body felt like getting up. Napping multiple times some days. Eating soup, drinking hot cocoa. Anything the required too many thinking steps I did not do, even some things I love to do. The thought of putting on multiple layers to walk the dogs in the quiet beautiful snow was too much. Typically I love doing that. I love doing my postcard project where I send postcards to people in the phonebook yet writing felt like too much. I enjoy exercising and the health benefits. I did not have the energy to exercise and while exercise gives you energy I could not do it. Resting, healing, being. Reading felt like too much work. Binge watching Netflix cooking shows was great.
My body and my brain had been sending lots of signals earlier to change something up. My thinking at times was cloudy, slow. Making simple decisions felt complex. After work I just wanted to sit and sleep. I wasn’t me. All this was occurring over a period of weeks. I was kinda listening to my brain and body. I was kinda making some different choices to help my recharge. In reflection I would not have done anything differently because of what I learned about myself during this experience as I move forward. I know if I want to protect my energy and positive sense of self, when I begin losing that battle I will need to take different actions. I also know I am tougher than I thought and can dig deeper into my internal resources. There is more to me than I knew.
An article in the Power of Positivity describes it this way “Coined by the psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s, burnout entails feeling highly stressed for long periods, which can lead to a complete nervous breakdown or chronic exhaustion. It differs from chronic fatigue, however, in that burnout describes psychological symptoms while scientists believe physical ailments cause the above condition. One’s mental state can become so impaired that they may not even feel like getting out of bed in the morning.”
“Be the person you want to have in your life” Unknown Author
All of us at some point in time, perhaps more than one, has experienced this. Well maybe not monks so perhaps we could learn something from them. The past few days I began reading Jay Shetty “To Think Like A Monk” and there is much we can learn. What I do know, and what I learned is that this experience affected me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was sleeping nine hours a night which helped, yet I needed to be taking more actions to help myself. Here are my tips which helped me.
I had compassion towards myself. Yep. I did not and do not need to be doing some of the things I do. There is no harm that comes when I don’t accomplish some of the “to-do” items. So by giving myself full permission to halt and be, felt like a gift. There was no shame. Only acceptance of self.
According to an article in Get Radiant Life.com “Is doing nothing for a day good for you?” The answer is yes. ” You‘ll feel more well-rested. A survey of 18,000 participants showed that “spending time on my own” and doing nothing was one of the top choices on how to recharge. … People who take some down time find that when they return to the usual daily activities, they feel rejuvenated and better equipped to get things done.”
During my stop week I also needed to feel some sense of accomplishment. To help give the sense of some order in my life. So I did the one thing I new would help. I cleaned the inside of my microwave and the top of my stove. This mindless scrubbing and rubbing helped to quiet my mind. When I went to use the microwave, seeing a clean inside felt so much better than looking at the dirty inside. A clean, shiny stovetop made me smile.
Even when I was doing minimal physical activity I was still stretching, bending, reaching. When I would get up from a nap I would stretch. Our body needs movement. As my energy was building I did bundle up to walk the pup’s. Being outside felt positive and helped me to feel strong and healthy. By the end of the week I was beginning to exercise.
My food intake was still pretty healthy. As much as I love junk food it was not going to be beneficial to my body so I maximized the healthy and minimized the junk food, even though I could have binged away. I went against my brain food signals to eat foods I knew would help my energy. When we are tired or stressed our brain sends signal to eat comfort foods in mass amounts.
As my energy levels improved I needed less sleep, less naps. My body was given me signs of healing. I was more focused, what I wanted to do was backed up by the energy I needed. My mind felt clearer and focused.
“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering I will try again tomorrow.” Mary Ann Radmacher
So when Monday comes tomorrow and I am back to work, when I begin to feel my energy drain, I will take some actions moving forward. Some will be proactive such as one weekday night will be as simple as possible. Leftovers for supper. Fun uplifting tv or reading. Perhaps a game night online with family. The weekend will have a dedicated portion to rejuvenation. To have a mini vacation in my weekend. If more is needed then I will do more. I know how I want to be. I will fight for myself to be that.
You matter. Taking time to be you and do what you need matters. We are the only person who can fill up our energy reserves. Life is not just about being busy, or working until there is nothing left of us. Life is about so much more. So take great care of you and all your layers.
May your wonder layered self be with you💜