I’ve been down for the count the last few days. It has definitely not been fun — I’m a terrible patient, and worse when left up to my own devices — but the down time has no doubt been so important for my body to begin recovering.
It’s very rare that I have any time to rest or allow myself to recover, and I’m constantly burning the candle at both ends…and possibly also in the middle. I pretty much burn the whole damn candle all the time and without apology and never make enough time to completely catch up. This is a huge growth area for me — listening to my body when it first starts to show signs of breaking down and actually letting it re-charge. Admittedly, I’m much better at weekend couch time when it’s cold outside and hibernation mode seems so appealing, but I need to really shut it down. That means no constant laptop working, planning, and letting stress keep me ‘on’ 24/7 — just good old fashioned slothing on the couch, watching movie marathons and giving myself whole days to play in the kitchen with no where in particular to be. (Like this guy who makes self-care and napping a full time j.o.b.)
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found a few things (practices) to be so incredibly important in staying above water (and out of the doctor’s office). While I’ve proven the effectiveness of these little things in bringing rest and recovery into my life to ultimately be more productive, I’ve also proven them right by completely ignoring them all and marching hard into a stress induced breakdown. I’ve fully lived the success and failure.
Here’s what matters:
1. Give yourself a damn break; mentally and physically. Sometimes allowing yourself to take time for nothing is exactly what’s necessary to be able to push forward to something later.
2. Unplug. No computer, no phone, no work anything. Maybe for a day, or maybe just 6 hours, but give that time to yourself to live and relax, free of interruptions, and the stress of being on a timeline..
3. Ask for help. It’s not my natural tendency to cry uncle when it comes to feeling fatigued or having too much on my plate, but when my body cries uncle, it’s time to start listening.
4. Plan mental health days for yourself. Take a day for nothing but the small chores that nourish your sense of both accomplishment and security. Laundry, organization, grocery shopping, cooking… and a trip to Home Goods if you’re ‘exciting’ like me. They’re not fancy plans, but ability those little life chores have to relieve stress can have such a huge impact on both mental and physical stress. Counter to most of our life chores, these are more restorative than draining.
5. Learn to say no. This is the most challenging thing for me — not just because I feel obligated to say yes to everyone and to be everything — but because I actually want to do everything. It’s not hard to say no to things that aren’t appealing or have no significant spark to excite all my passions, but that rarely seems to be the reality. I have amazing friends who do amazing things, and I am so in love with their passions and the things that make them come alive that I can’t help but get drawn in. I want to do all the things, be all the things, and give whatever I have to the purpose — it’s just not realistic. Sometimes saying no is the best thing you can do — and then when you don’t have to be the perfect master of everything, you can be tremendously good at the things that create your legacy.
These last few days have been focused on giving myself the recovery time needed to be a better and fuller version of myself – shedding the demands of the day to day and allowing myself to be good. As I finish out year 29 and head into the long anticipated thirtieth year, I know that expanding on my personal health focus (the 360 degree view) is going to be paramount in being successful as time goes on. To rest is to recover, to recover is to allow for greater strength, and to have strength is to thrive — and isn’t that the whole point?