Allowing Rest to Restore
Of course, sometimes life can overwhelm even our best coping mechanisms and I can feel that familiar lack of energy creeping in. And I fight back the best I can. I see my doctor and take my medicine and exercise and try not to spend too much time in bed and maybe even drink more water and eat less sugar. I push myself to keep moving even when I don’t want to. I make myself talk to people. I try to be kinder to myself and everyone around me.
But every once in a blue moon, the stress gets the upper hand and nothing I do helps and after a while I don’t have the energy to sustain my self-care efforts. This is a hard place for me to be in. It’s the point at which any attempts to help myself will not refresh me but will sap the little bit of energy I have left. I need to rest. In truth I have needed to rest for a long time. But rest hasn’t been much of an option, so I just keep pushing. Until these last few weeks when my body and mind conspired to make me rest. I am embarrassed at how much time I have been spending laying in bed or just sitting and thinking. But I just could not get myself to move. There were days when I paused going up the stairs, unsure if I was up to making it the rest of the way up.
Of course, while it is socially acceptable to become a workaholic as a response to stress, becoming a lazy bum is not generally so well received. So I kept fighting it. And inevitably I would push myself until I could hardly move and struggle to recover. Because to just stop and rest would be like quitting. Or giving into inertia. But every time I would beat myself up over not being very functional, my brain would scream “you’re sick. You need to rest and recover.”
Finally, after Christmas I started letting go of my fear of stopping and began to let myself rest. Not the guilty, only doing this because I can’t move sort of rest I had been forced into for weeks. Instead, I worked up the nerve to let go of my worries. I have so much weighing on me right now that letting myself seek and feel some peace and relief from worry seemed almost irresponsible. But I know that this is worry’s lie and that letting go will only help me in the long run. So I gradually allowed myself more and more rest – physical and mental. Yesterday, I lay down in my bed and thought, “thank you God for this wonderful bed I have to rest in.” And I let myself rest. The kids came in and hung out with me and I got up and attended to some things, but in between I just rested. Really, I probably didn’t spend much more time than usual doing nothing. But for once I really let myself rest without guilt or worry. And finally this morning I was starting to feel almost normal. My mind is finally quieting and that place of worry is not so tempting.
I need rest. I can’t do as much as I would like. I have limits. These are realities for all of us. I always feel like I’m supposed to be an exception to these sorts of realities. I can look at someone else and see that they need rest, but when the same is true of myself, I assume that I’m just lazy or incompetent. I don’t think I’m supposed to have limits. I think I’m supposed to do anything I can think of to do. But what I think doesn’t change reality.
So, I will embrace rest. I will allow it to restore me. Of course, I guess this means accepting that I will have to find some way to become a gazillionaire that doesn’t involve responding to stress by working myself to death. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.