Hello Exhaustion, My Old Friend
There have been a few moments in my life when I have realized that I have bit off more than I can chew. The moment when I realize that I have completely and utterly worn down my body and I NEED to rest. Usually by the time I am standing in these moments I am past the point of no return and I get knock you on your ass sick. I am talking, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to bed-sick. These moments tend to stand out vividly in my mind, surrounded by an air of mystery and shock-like, how did I get myself to that point? How did I get myself to that point again?
I found myself in the beginning of 2018 feeling run down and disheartened about where I was in my life. I then made tangible changes to what I was doing and how I was treating myself and I created a life I love. A version of my best life. A version of my life I was committed to leaning into.
Then came January 2019. I had so many positive experiences surrounding me, so many powerful and uplifting opportunities, and a number of goals and intentions for the new year. The opportunity to lead yoga classes and workshops in spaces that excited me and were in alignment with my values and my mission continued to present themselves. I was connecting with people in ways that facilitated healing and community. I was surrounded by positive colleagues and was having the opportunity to engage in creative work that was making a difference. Yet, I was feeling overwhelmed. I did not feel that I had the time or space for the people that matter most to me-my partner, my family, my friends. I did not feel that I had the time or space for the practices that matter the most to me-yoga, breath work, meditation, journalling, movement. I was not creating time and space to care for my body and I was relying on pre-made foods and eating out. I told a few of my friends that I felt like I was drowning, barely keeping my head above water. This time, however, I felt like I was drowning in rainbows, sunshine, and happiness. I felt guilty about being overwhelmed because I was living a life I loved and I was doing what I wanted to do.
Through this guilt, through this exhaustion, through this overwhelm, I was ignoring what my body had to tell me. Ignoring the signs from my body that I need to slow down and take care of myself. So, as our bodies tend to do when they are overwhelmed and undernourished, my body stopped-it created an opportunity to rest. I got knock me on my ass sick. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to bed. Sick. For over a week, all I could do was "rest". All I could do was sleep and nap and drink tea, while attempting not to throw my back out from all of the coughing I was doing. I had to cancel and postpone teaching opportunities I had been looking forward to for months. I sacrificed working hours and did not attend meetings. My body told me loud and clear-you are doing TOO much. You NEED to rest.
I fought this message, especially in the beginning. I fought to hold on to my work schedule. I fought to hold on to my commitments. I fought to continue living my life as I expected it to be, not how it was serving my body. And my body continued to slow down even more. Letting me do less and less before I became exhausted. Before I had a pounding headache. My body knew that I needed to rest. And I found myself faced with a dilemma-I do not rest well. I find it extremely challenging to rest. I found it challenging to not use rest as a reward for other behaviours. I found myself creating negotiations with myself-if you answer these five emails, you can have a nap. WHAT?!? My body was clearly asking for a nap and I was refusing to listen. I felt guilty about what I was not getting done. Each day I forced myself to do more work, forced myself to keep going-was more time I needed to repay my body in rest.
So I was resting, or attempting to rest. Rest has looked like long hot baths, Netflix, reading, naps, early bed times, focusing on one task at a time, and lots of tea and soup. I am still working to de-tangle the guilt about my body's need to rest, but I am getting better at it. Slowly. Just like anything else, it takes practice. Practice to say no. Practice to not over-schedule. Practice to say yes to myself. Practice to prioritize what my body needs. Practice to quiet the guilt. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Who knew that resting could be so challenging?
In darkness and in light,