A couple weeks ago, I was completely knocked out with sickness. Nothing serious - just rundown with a cough and overall ickiness. I'll spare you the details, but I didn't even have the energy to walk my precious dog!
I was bed-bound watching episodes of Younger and googling "best hair masks for chemically treated hair." Whenever I'm sick, I like to find things I can control - like my split ends.
Even though I intellectually knew my body needed to rest it was super hard for me to let go, listen to my body and rest up. It's like I knew I *should* be okay with sleeping and resting - but it was hard!
My brain had all sorts of objections about my time spent watching questionable reality TV shows in bed, including but not limited to:
You should be working.
Why aren't you feeling better yet? It's been three days!
I bet *other* people don't rest as much as you.
The voice in my head resembled a gremlin. But a gremlin after it's had food after midnight - not the cute kind. And when my defenses are down when I'm sick, it's much harder for me to tell this little voice to kindly take a seat.
It's like I was fighting my body's wisdom with my intellectual tenacity: "Must get up...and do things......now!" (cue me falling back into bed and sleeping for three hours).
Alas, by the fifth day, I had gotten the hang of listening to my body and going with the flow. I rested. I drank tea. I drank water. I didn't do too much. I had let go. And I started to feel better.
And then a surprising thing happened when I finally emerged from my apartment after several days of resting up.
I stepped outside with my dog. The sun was shining. I felt energy in my body I hadn't felt in days. I was renewed. The image that comes to mind is the opening scene of Beauty And The Beast when Belle gallivants through the village saying hello to every baker and shoppe owner.
That was pretty much me, but in an urban setting:
Oh my gosh, look at the coffee shoppe! There's oat milk and a cute sign in the window! Hello, New York City!!
I was enthused to be back in the world. I cheerfully chatted up baristas and smiled at people on the street. It was like I was seeing my neighborhood (and life!) for the first time.
I'm always amazed by the body's ability to heal and do what it needs to do. My body needed to sleep and rest. And not do much of anything else.
My "stay-in-bed even though I'm restless" time had the hidden gem of helping me recharge. I emerged excited with loads more energy.
And the secret sauce was being gentle with myself. Not forcing things and not rushing the process. Slowing down and listening.
It can be SO easy to want to move when really you might just need to sleep and rest and recuperate. Being gentle with yourself is so important.
So the next time you're feeling rundown, tired or achy give yourself permission to truly recharge. You never know what's on the other side of a rest period. Maybe more energy or a fresh perspective?
And better yet - be gentle with yourself in general! You don't need not feeling well to be a requirement for decadent self-care and tender approach to caring for your well-being. You can come back - even if it's only for 20 minutes - feeling like you have a little extra kick in your step.
Here's your daily permission (not that you need it from me!) to take it easy and take a moment if you need to recharge.
Your body is wise - it knows what it needs to do :)
From my heart to yours,
Devon McLeod, LCSW
How can you be gentle with yourself? Take a nap? Go to bed earlier? Comment below and let me know!