A piece about taking time for yourself.
This is a follow-up from my last piece regarding the importance of moving your body. I believe activity powers your whole-body strength however; sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is nothing at all.
Resting is equally as important as moving. A mantra I live by is “Life is all about balance”. Taking a day off can aid you in your journey of growth. Sometimes everything is too much. Too much to listen to, too much to handle. When your body, mind or spirit are fatigued… they are calling for recovery. This can look different for each of us. It can be watching television, taking a bath or reading a book. For myself, I really enjoy laying down. Whether that is on my bed, in the bath or on the beach. It is not having any obligations to fill besides breathing deep and thinking less. Thinking and not thinking about my thoughts. Trying to recognize the positives instead of the negatives. Trying to not stress about the future. Realizing how far I have come and how I should not feel guilty by doing nothing.
My favourite is laying in the sunshine listening to nature. I try to get at least 15 minutes a day of straight sunshine. Sunshine can increase the vitamin D levels in your body. This has the potential to increase your mood, energy and physical health. We struggle with so much darkness in our Canadian winters that many of us will experience Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter. People may sleep too much or have little energy. The condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety.”
I do no want to get too off topic, but this is important to understand. Try taking some time in your day to feel warm from the sun. Close your eyes and enjoy it. We are blessed to live in a climate that allows nice weather.
Although this is not easy for all of us to accomplish, it is necessary. Hard workers can get so caught up in life that they forget to take an opportunity to slow everything down. Not taking this chance can lead to burnout. Burnout is when you have too much on your plate. It can happen from not managing time properly, taking on too many tasks or not giving yourself a break. Understand you need rest to grow. I am talking about this in a wholesome aspect. To grow your mind, your awareness of your actions, your thoughts but also your physical body. In fitness, we stress that it is essential to rest and recover for your muscles to adapt; this applies to all of your life. Let your mind and your body relax as well.
Starting something new or facing a challenge requires your body to make some adaptions. Listen to your body talking to you. If you feel tired, rest. If you feel anxious, rest. This is a simple concept many of us forget to understand.
On the other hand, some of us rest too much. We don’t have the energy to power our body throughout the day. We just want to sleep as much as possible. This is easy when you are living with a mental illness. This is also easy when you are experiencing SAD. Getting out of bed can be really hard some days, whether that is from being physically exhausted or emotionally drained. Certain life events can lead to this decrease in energy but one must not let it overpower their life.
My point is we all get sleepy from one time to another but we cannot let this take over our opportunities to live. Living with anxiety has pushed my brain into constant overthinking. I’ve noticed that sometimes my mind gets so tired it can’t think much more. For myself, this looks like staring into space, not being able to finish a sentence, losing my train of thought or just being completely confused on what is going on even though 3 seconds ago I was completely engaged.
My anxiety doesn’t want my body to rest. It wants to keep thinking, keep worrying.
From not sleeping properly for years, I have come to a point where rest is one of the most important parts of my day. This is usually done in yoga, laying down or just breathing deeply without distractions. I strive to give myself at least 5 minutes a day of nothing. 5 minutes to allow myself to not worry about what is happening in the future. This is not easy.
When I was first starting yoga many years ago, I would still be overthinking during my poses. Through years of practicing meditation and mindfulness, I finally feel comfortable with thinking about nothing at all. It took a lot of trial and error to let myself accomplish this. At first while I was trying to calm myself during yoga poses I would imagine a lotus flower on my belly. It would expand into full bloom when inhaling and close up when exhaling. This may be useful to you. I encourage you to all find something that relaxes you as use it as a tool.
Although now when I am trying to rest and cannot stop thinking, I picture a beach. Water has always calmed me. My parents put me to sleep as a baby with the tap running, as nothing else would work. The beach I imagine is blue as can be. I picture myself there with my dog. It is just us. Nothing else. Nothing to worry about. Waves crashing onto the golden sand. If negative thoughts try to creep into this imaginative state, I imagine palm trees blocking them from entering. This is one way that aids myself in finding my zen.
I encourage you to imagine your happy place when trying to relax. Mentally put up walls that stop your negative thoughts. Focus on the good in your life. Focus on what you love and strive for. Allow your mind, body and spirit to relax. Relaxation is required to mature. Reward yourself with rest but know when it may be too much.
We all push through each day with whatever energy our body is providing us. Some of us need caffeine to get through or sleeping pills to stop it all. Don’t ignore the importance of listening to your body and allow yourself to give it the recovery it needs. Overexerting your body is unhealthy and may lead to negative consequences. Step back and be grateful you are alive today. Give your physical, mental, emotional self what it needs. Do not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. You will be thankful in the end.
Photo retrieved from Pinterest. Artist is Laura Supnik.