Last week I was tired. A combination of over-work, broken nights and an increase in the emotional needs of the kids had worn me out.
I was physically tired, but more than that I was emotionally and mentally tired. My body and brain had been operating at more than full capacity for a while and I needed a break.
There are times we have to over-exert ourselves; a busy patch at work, a friend or loved one falls ill and needs caring for, a house move or other circumstantial change. There are seasons when we all have to dig deep and work harder than would ordinarily be healthy for us. And that is fine, it’s just life, right? But, if we are wise, we don’t let this temporary stretching become the new norm.
And so, because this is not my first rodeo and I know the potentially devastating consequences of not paying attention to this need for rest, when I recognised I was more tired than normal, I tried to slow down. I took breaks. I sat down in front of the television when I ate my lunch and watched an episode of the latest box-set I was working through. I had early nights. I tried to eat well and took help when it was offered.
And this was all good.
However, this was not the whole picture.
The entire time I was taking these good practical steps, every time I sat down, or had a bath, or tried to switch off
there was a voice inside my head lying to me.
You don’t deserve this. Everyone else can cope, why can’t you? Other people don’t have this luxury available to them so neither should you. You should just press in and work through the tiredness, your to-do list is waiting.
You must be really weak and lazy to take this rest. You don’t need this time and should just carry on. You are using this as an excuse to indulge yourself, and should stop being so self-pitying.
You should be moving faster. The work isn’t going to do itself. By stopping you are only creating problems for your future self, you’ll regret having this rest in a few days time when the work is piling up. Taking rests like this means you will never really succeed.
I sat down to rest but couldn’t switch off. I kept picking up my phone or opening my laptop, even though I had just decided to have a break. My mind was whirring and I felt frustrated I wasn’t making the most of this time to relax.
It took me a while to tune in and hear this narrative playing on a loop in my mind.
First you have to acknowledge.
As I realised these were the messages I was silently telling myself, I started to get angry. Not with myself, but with the nonsense and the noise telling me I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t work enough, I wasn’t strong enough.
I started to remind myself of the truth I know.
It took a while to drown out the lies with the truth but over the course of a day or two I succeeded. I separated myself from the lies and started to hear the positive messages I needed.
I tuned into the voice that told me I was enough even if I didn’t work at all.
The voice that told me my worth was not attached to my busyness or my productivity.
The voice that told me I was right to be resting.
The voice that was proud of me for making good choices and listening to my body.
Rest is not a dirty word. Because you need to rest more than other people does not make you less than them. Because you can accomplish what looks like less in a day or week that someone else doesn’t mean you are not worth as much as them.
Rest is important.
Rest enables us to make good choices and become more efficient.
Rest allows us to realise again what really matters.
Rest keeps us healthy in both brain and body.
Rest enables us to be present in our relationships.
Pull the voice of your subconscious out into the light of day and examine it.
Is it telling you lies? Do you need to confront it?
Don’t look around at what everyone else is doing, at how little or how much they rest or work. Look inside, discover how you are wired and what you need. You are allowed to rest more if that is right for you. It is not lazy or self-indulgent, it is wise and will allow you to be the fullest version of you.
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