When shifting into a new phase of life, or when taking steps towards that dream you really want to go after, it’s normal for your body and your mind to need a bit of an adjustment period. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to take a break.
This is especially true if you’ve been learning a lot recently, or if you’ve been working through some really hard things emotionally and spiritually.
It’s like when we exercise: we can’t go from couch potato to body builder overnight. If we try then we end up harming ourselves in the process. We have to give ourselves time to rest, recuperate, and restore our energy. Even when we’re doing things that are good for us.
This is a step that I think we often miss. We start something new, or we go through something, and we just keep pushing and pushing, moving from one thing to the next, to the next. In starting something new (a diet, a lifestyle change, being positive, moving forward with our goals, going through the awakening process, learning a new skill, starting a new job, etc.) after all of this pushing and moving we get overwhelmed and burned out. Then we think, “ugh, this isn’t working, I’m not getting anywhere, I can’t learn this stuff”.
In reality, it IS working, you ARE getting somewhere, and you CAN learn, but you’re so tired and overwhelmed that you don’t see the progress. You’re able to put one foot in front of the other and not much else. When you take the time to step back, process, integrate, and recuperate, you’ll begin to see that you actually are moving forward.
But all of the people I admire don’t take a break.
Even the people who seem like they are always on, have recovery days. They all do things to recuperate and give themselves a break at some point. If they don’t, then they end up sick, exhausted, and totally burnt out.
Remember, we see people’s highlight reel. You don’t see them taking this time because those are the days that they aren’t filming, writing, or putting anything out there. They aren’t going to necessarily document themselves taking time for themselves, because then, it wouldn’t be time for themselves.
Some of them do put out the ways that they take the time to rest, recover, and stay balanced, but it’s not on the days that they are taking the time to actually do so.
Brendon Buchard did a post about his recovery days after big events. Miles and Melanie Beckler talk about going hiking and spending time in nature as part of what keeps them centered and balanced. Chris Shelton takes time in nature and he does the “Tossing the Stone”, the “Center and Balance Meditation”, and/or the “White Pearl Meditation” to help restore his energy. This recovery period is part of the reason that sports have seasons. The NBA is even requiring rest time for players now. Most people that I’ve known who run marathons train, run their marathon, and then they take a period of rest and recovery before training for the next race. Truck drivers have required down time, where they have to take a break from driving and rest.
This time is not something we should take only if we have time in our busy schedules. It should be part of our weekly schedule.
You can get burned out, even if you’re doing what you love.
We often get it backwards and say, “if you’re doing what you love then you shouldn’t have to take recovery days, it should just always be enjoyable”, or “I don’t need a break, I love what I’m doing and I’m happy to do it”. But…..we’re still human. We still need time away, time to process, time to replenish ourselves before we begin giving back to others.
If you don’t refill your pot of tea, eventually, it’s empty and you have nothing to fill the tea cups around you.
What does this adjustment period feel like?
We all know our tell tell signs when we’re starting to get overwhelmed. If you don’t, make it a point to find these signs and then learn to pay attention to them. It’s different for everyone and for every situation. Some people get more tired than others. Some people may have medical issues that require them to rest more often.
My signs include: getting tired more easily, snapping at people over little things, having a harder time focusing on any one thing, and having a harder time making decisions. If I sit down and try to write, I can’t seem to settle on any one thing. If I’m trying to plan my day, I can’t figure out what to do first, and I’m exhausted after doing a few little things. I can’t seem to make even the smallest decisions, like what to eat.
All of these things let me know that I need to stop and take some time for myself before things get bad. If I ignore these signs, I know from experience that I end up sick and unable to function.
You may feel physical symptoms like getting tired more quickly, getting more headaches, and feeling achy. You may feel emotional symptoms like heightened anxiety or depression. You may just feel “off”, without being able to explain why. If it’s bad enough, you can even feel like you’re going crazy. You may have times where you just aren’t happy with anything or anyone, including yourself. Everyone feels something a little different.
It’s like the spider crabs that we talked about in this post; right after they shed their shells, they are more vulnerable for a time.
Be sure to honor where you are during this time. Pay close attention to how you’re feeling and your body will tell you what it needs.
If your tired, then take time to rest. If your body needs slow, gentle movement, instead of your usual fast paced exercising, give it what it needs.
Taking a break doesn’t mean…….
That you’re sliding backwards in your efforts or stalling out entirely.
That you’re being lazy.
That you’re being selfish.
That you’re wasting time and not being productive.
“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax” – Mark Black
All of these feelings generally stem from one of three things happening at some point in your life: 1) Someone you looked up to told you once that you were being lazy when you wanted to rest or take a day off. 2) You overheard an adult say this when you were younger, to someone or about someone. What was said may not have been exactly this, but in your childlike brain, this is how it was interpreted, “you must never rest or take time for yourself because it’s selfish, lazy, or you’re just wasting time”. 3) You have personally judged someone else for what you considered to be lazy behavior. When we judge others for doing something, it makes us feel like others are judging us when we do the same thing.
If you see yourself in any of these, work to release those feelings so that you can take the time that you mind, body, and soul need to relax and recover. Then give yourself permission to enjoy yourself, to relax.
What are some of the benefits of taking a break?
Some people feel like they have to go, go, go. If they were to take the time to stop and rest, they would feel lazy, or like they were losing valuable time to get things done. The funny thing is, taking this time can actually help you to be more productive and not less productive. Taking a day here and there to give yourself a break, gives your brain a chance to “turn off” and just be. It gives your body a chance to slow down and stop feeling all of the emotions and stress of constantly doing. You give your thinking mind a chance to stop thinking and actually process what you have been doing. Overall, it lowers our stress levels and helps us to have more energy. We feel better about ourselves and more confident about facing our daily tasks. We can handle those things that pop up out of nowhere more easily.
“In this crazy hustle bustle world, the one thing that is underestimated is rest. Relaxing, quiet time, solitude, these are the things that give our minds and bodies the opportunity to regenerate. Take time today and everyday to be quiet and then notice how much you can actually hear.” – Eric Saperston
What are some of the things that you can do during this time to help you restore your energy?
Meditate. Go inward and give yourself time to reflect on what has and is happening.
Rest. Take a nap or sleep in.
Read a book.
Write in a journal.
Listen to soft, gentle music with no words.
Find a healing frequency video on YouTube that resonates with you and listen to it.
Do Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga, walking or whatever you enjoy that is slower and more restorative.
Spend some time outdoors, walking or just sitting.
Give yourself permission to “veg out” for a day or two.
Don’t beat yourself up for not being more productive.
Don’t tell yourself that you should be “better” than this.
Sit somewhere quiet; in a rocking chair outside, on a park bench, or in a cozy place at your house.
Try to find water. Water is very restorative to our bodies and our souls. If you live near a body of water, go there. Sit and listen to the sounds of the water. If it’s not ideal weather or if you don’t live near any bodies of water, find ocean sounds or river sounds on YouTube.
Take a hot bath.
Do something fun, just for the fun of it. Knit, crochet, paint, color, draw, or do whatever it is that you enjoy doing.
Give yourself permission to do something mind-numbing: watch tv, movies, or funny videos.
Get a massage.
Turn your cell-phone off, or at least put it on silent.
All of these are merely suggestions. The key is to do something that restores you, something that you enjoy.
Your mind, body, soul, and your productivity levels will all be much better off if you take this time. Don’t wait until your body starts giving up or giving out to do so. Don’t wait until you’re so burned out that you can’t function.
Give yourself a break, take the time you need to process and integrate all that you’ve been learning, all that you’ve been going through, and life in general.
What are some of the things that you would add to the list?