One Monday I went into work, straight off a five-hour bus ride. I was ridiculously tired, my body ached and I couldn’t think straight. I figured I just needed a good night sleep. I got home Monday night and slept for about nine hours. I got up and I was still groggy, and tired with body aches. I felt the same way the next day. Again I figured I just needed another night of sleep, but didn’t have time that night to sleep since I had to go handle some business for a friend. I’ll catch up over the weekend. The next day I felt so much worse. I just stayed home the entire day.
Obviously, the full day of rest made a world of a difference, but I still wasn’t 100%. I started to think about how I’d been treating myself over that past few months. I ate well for the most part. I exercised everyday including going to the gym and riding my bike to and from work. I was involved in many different activities, mostly helping others. I was always out, everyday on my calendar had something I had to do or to attend or to help someone with. I didn’t spend much time at home. I wasn’t hanging out with myself.
I remember even before I went away that getting up every morning was getting harder and harder. Each morning I forced myself to get on my bike or go to the gym. At work I was losing focus and drive. My to-do list wasn’t getting shorter but I was always busy. I stopped and thought, “what am I doing?” I’m so busy, but I’m going nowhere.
That one day of rest I took for myself had such a positive impact on how I felt. Imagine what I could do for myself with a whole week, or even a month? So you know what I decided? I’m going to take a month off. I wish I could take off from work too, but that’s not possible. So what I’m going to do is just stop. Stop going to the gym, stop riding my bike, stop going out, stop volunteering, stop helping… I’m just going to be still.
No if you know me, this is difficult to imagine. Me? Doing nothing? Preposterous! My bike is in my coat closet so every time I opened the closet to get my coat, I’d feel guilty. My laundry loads have been extra light since I wasn’t adding dirty gym clothes. I felt guilty. A friend called and asked if I wanted to come over and do a workout video with her. I said yes initially, but I knew it was against my plan of stillness, so I had to tell her no. I felt guilty.
I’m sure I’m not alone in being caught up in… well… anything. Most of us are guilty of getting so caught up and pushing through things and not realizing the damage we’re inflicting upon ourselves. It could be the mother that hasn’t had her hair done in months because her son wants the new Jordans. Or the father who hasn’t sat down to watch even a little bit of his favorite sport because his little girl has ballet on Sundays.
We all feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. But taking that time for yourself is a good thing. Not only is it good for you, but it’s also good for the people around you. It’s just like on flights when the flight attendants describe how to use the oxygen masks they always say to put yours on first then help others. The reason is that if you put someone else’s on first, say your child, and then start to suffocate, you can’t help your child anymore and your child will likely not know what to do to help you.
In a nutshell, what I’m trying to say is that you should not feel guilty about taking care of yourself. Even if you only have the capacity to take just one hour for yourself, do it. The people around you will benefit indirectly because the positivity you gain will be contagious and will spread to those around you. As long as you have the capacity to improve yourself, go for it. More people than just you will benefit.
I’ve enjoyed my month off and I’m back and better than ever! I really hope you’ll take some much-needed time for yourself too. It doesn’t have to be a month, but just take any time you can. You’ll thank yourself.
Until next time, cheers to a better you.