Last week I got sick. Not a huge surprise given that the past month has been insanely full-on. Combining my already busy ‘usual’ life of juggling parenting, full time work, a coaching business, a relationship and the rest of life with moving house resulted in quite a stressful and draining month (God, how un-fun is the physical act of moving house? Sure, the end result is positive but the actual move and everything that has to be done to necessitate it, is the worst!). Needless to say that by the end of last week I was completely exhausted and felt like a zombie. I had pushed myself way beyond my limits but was expecting myself to function like ‘normal’ as if nothing out of the ordinary had been happening.
Despite feeling mentally and physically exhausted and crappy for an extended period of time, I couldn’t seem to give myself permission to let go and rest. My inner critic and nag kept telling me there were all these things that I should be doing and that I needed to do. Even though I was barely holding on, that old favourite, the guilt trip, reared it’s ugly head telling me I couldn’t possibly take time off work or re-schedule clients because there was so much work to do and I couldn’t let people down.
Eventually, after ending up in the doctors office, I took a much needed sick day from work and spent the weekend doing as little as possible so that I could get the mental and physical rest I so desperately needed.
It’s interesting how the lessons and advice we give are often the biggest ones we need to learn (they do say we teach what we most need to learn). I am constantly championing my clients to take care of their physical and mental health, to make self-love and care a top priority and to schedule time to do nothing and to relax. Yet giving myself permission to do these things and to follow through on them is something I go in and out of and have to constantly work on being able to do.
Our society and culture is based so much around the expectation that we are always ‘on’. We feel uncomfortable when we aren’t busy or accomplishing something. We are human ‘beings’ but we appear more to be human ‘doings’ who very rarely allow ourselves to just ‘be’. We push ourselves to keep working and producing even when what we really need to do is take a little break – a nap, a day in bed, a week off.
The thing is, that any time we feel deprived in any way, whether it be of sleep, rest, nutritious food, self love etc, it always shows up in some way, shape or form. For example, you may end up with the flu or having the feeling of being completely exhausted from being too busy, even though you’ve been getting lots of sleep. You can do your best to ignore it but eventually it will show up louder and louder, often resulting in serious illness (which is absolutely something that we want to avoid), until we pay attention.
The next time that you (like I was) are tempted to push harder and to ignore the signs that you are being given that you need to take time out, remember this: Giving yourself permission to regularly relax and fill your tank is a necessity and has an enormous positive impact on your life. You’ll be more efficient, get more work done and will work smarter and more effectively if you’ve given yourself down time. Recharging your batteries rather than ‘pushing on’ gives you the strength to continue and gives you a fresh perspective, inspiration and motivation.
As was the case in my scenario, many of us are unable to give ourselves permission to take time out because we let feelings of guilt or selfishness etc get in the way. If you fall into this category then it is imperative that you find someone who can provide you with this permission (my permission givers last week were my coach, a friend, my Mum and a doctor). As Sue Monk Kidd says:
“……to listen to your heart, your inner wisdom, as deeply as you can and then give yourself permission to follow it. If you can’t give yourself permission, then find someone who can. Everybody should have at least one permission giver in her life”.
If you don’t currently have a ‘permission giver’ in your life, allow me to fill that role for you. I wholeheartedly give you permission to relax, take time out, recover or do whatever it is that will fill your tank.
You deserve it.