I'm currently under the weather. I suspect it's because I've been pushing myself really hard lately. While posting a blog might be more work than I should be doing at the moment, it feels like there's no time like the present to write today's blog post on the importance of rest and self love.
One of the biggest struggles we have is balancing work and rest. We are expected to work 40+ hours a week at a job and then come home and start our home job: taking care of kids, taking care of pets, cooking, cleaning, house repairs, bills, yard work, etc.
Life is a very busy place. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life, leaving no time for ourselves. People often only rest when it is forced upon them. It is usually forced on them when illness strikes. Illness is often our body's way of overriding our mind's intense desire to keep working. Once you're sick, you're finally being forced to lie in bed and rest, away from work and other activities.
If we pay attention to our body's signals, we don't have to wait until we are sick to rest. We can rest on our own time. In fact, resting when we are well, is probably a much better experience, than resting when we are sick!
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am currently a living example. It's easy to overlook your body's signals to slow down when you've gained a lot of momentum towards working. Lately, I've been burning the candle at both ends with daily tasks like those listed above along with my excitement around relaunching ATX Energy. My body made sure I knew it was time to slow down when I suddenly developed a dry, sore throat. I took this as a cue to pull away from work a bit and have some downtime.
It's never easy to pull away from something for fear that when you let go, everything will fall apart or what work you've done will disappear. This is simply not true. In fact, we must pull away in order to maintain good work. When you let go of something, you allow it to bloom and flourish. It is common for people to think it is selfish to take time for yourself. The irony is that it is the least selfish thing you could ever do. When you are well rested and happy, you have more energy for others and the world. Just as the airplane safety message has you put the oxygen mask over yourself first, you must take care of yourself first or there is no possibility of helping others.
Here are five tips to help you prioritize YOU:
Set aside time each day or week devoted to "me time." Define what "me time" means to you and let others know what you're doing. Make sure it is something that truly replenishes you and doesn't include other people's desires. It could be a nice bath, going for a walk, getting a manicure, gardening, taking a nap, creating some art, etc.
Spend some time reflecting on your life. Do you compromise yourself for others? Do you enjoy your day or do you wake up full of dread? Does your body give you signals to slow down or maybe speed up? Check in with yourself and see how things are flowing for you.
Learn to say no. Naturally, we want to be helpful and don't want to let others down, so it is often more comfortable to say yes rather than no. That small bit of comfort is short-lived though, soon replaced with the stress of wearing ourselves too thin. Be conscious of how often you say yes and imagine what it will look like down the road. Always remember that taking care of yourself allows you to take care of others. Don't feel guilty!
Don't be afraid to ask for help. It's easy to become unhappy when others don't reciprocate your generous and kind acts or offer a helping hand when needed. Most people are not mind readers, so communicate to them what you need. You'd be surprised how well this works. On a side note, don't do for others with the expectation of having the favor returned, unless this exchange has been openly communicated. You may end up tired and resentful otherwise.
Make sure you get enough sleep. This is a simple one, but can be difficult to achieve, yet crucial for mental and physical health. Develop an evening routine where work stops at a specific hour. That also means trying to reduce social media consumption! Avoid stimulating activities like the news, suspenseful and scary TV, or overly engaging conversations. Make a commitment to getting in bed earlier.
Everything in life has an ebb and a flow with peaks and valleys. Some days you have energy to accomplish a great deal. At the opposite end, there are days when you have less energy and need to do less. Life is about balance and accepting yourself as you are, in whatever state you're in. By accepting your reality, there is less of a struggle. When there is less of a struggle, there is less you suffering. Sometimes just giving yourself permission to feel bad can make all the difference.