Last week, I took on too much. I jumped back into work, ready and excited to hit the ground running after our move, and jam-packed my day with an unrealistic amount of tasks. I found myself moving quickly, rushing through things, and trying to multitask in an attempt to get everything done.
The crazy part is that these were all self-imposed deadlines. I have full dominion over my schedule — I’m the one who assigned myself all of these tasks, and (at the end of the day) whether or not all of them got done didn’t really matter.
My intentions of diving back in were good, but the way I went about it sent me down a spiral of overwhelm I know all too well.
THE TEMPTATION TO DO MORE
For years I was an overachiever, and I still have a tendency to want to go above and beyond. This is how I showed up as a student, as an employee, and now (when I’m not careful) as my own boss.
The danger of this pattern, when building your own business, is that there is always more to do. Literally, you are never done. You can always be building, which is exciting...but also overwhelming if you don’t keep your inner achiever at bay.
Ideally, we all get to a place where we put our patterns to rest for good. But most of us have a few key patterns that we tend to fall back into when we’re not mindful.
For me, and many of the clients I work with, overcommitting and over-scheduling ourselves is something we have to look out for and continually keep in check.
I’ve gotten WAY better at slowing down, intentionally building rest and play into my schedule, and listening to my body and honoring its needs.
And, I’m human. I still occasionally pack more into a day or week than I can realistically tackle. I still, at times, move through my life just a litttttle too quickly (especially when I’m doing something I like), and I forget to stop, breathe and recalibrate.
And, when that happens, I get headaches.
LISTENING TO YOUR BODY
Last week, I felt a headache coming on, and I knew: time to pump the brakes!
They used to be full-fledged migraines. Sick-to-my-stomach, head-pounding, can’t-handle-the-slightest-bit-of-daylight-or-sound-or-I’ll-puke migraines. That’s what it would take to get me to slow down and rest.
Thankfully, it’s been about 3 years since I experienced one of those migraines. And it’s all because I’ve learned to become more in tune with my body and its signals.
Fortunately, I rarely even get regular headaches these days! But when I do – when I feel the slightest hint of one coming, like I did last week – I know that it’s time to slooooow doooooown.
Even if I don’t want to. Even if I’m on a roll and the words are flowing or the event I was planning on attending sounded so awesome – I know. It’s time to pause, and time to take care of myself.
MY GO-TO RITUAL
I have my action plan in place. I’ve learned what my body needs in these moments, and I follow the steps below to take care of myself:
Do nothing. I stop all activity, and set a timer for at least 30 minutes. I commit to just being for at least that amount of time, if not longer.
Use peppermint oil. Rub it on my temples, on the back of my neck, and in between my palms. I put my hands up to my face and inhale deeply, over and over.
Avoid looking at my phone, laptop, or any other electronics.
Continue to breathe deeply, into my belly, counting my breaths, and focus on the cooling sensation of the peppermint oil.
Once I’m feeling a bit better — better enough to look at a screen — I try and clear my calendar of anything non-essential for the rest of the day. I schedule time to rest instead. That looks like: getting fresh air, reading a good book, meditating, stretching, or doing nothing at all. I also drink more water, avoid alcohol, and eat healthy foods.
I’ve also learned the hard way what NOT to do – not to keep pushing, ignoring the signs, or trying to do just one more task.
This process has helped me so much, and I’m sharing it today in hopes that it can help anyone else who struggles with a similar tendency too.
HOW TO HONOR YOUR BODY & TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Identify the warning signs: what cues does your body tend to send you? Think back on times when you’ve felt physically ill or even just a little “off”. What was going on in your life at the time? Are there any patterns you can recognize? What are your body’s go-to signals to let you know it’s time to rest and recharge? Make a list of everything that comes to mind, and you’ll start to notice the recurring cues. The idea is that if you see it coming, you can catch it and turn things around sooner.
Come up with a plan: what makes you feel the most rejuvenated and better in general when you’re feeling these symptoms? Write down a simple, step-by-step plan for whenever you start to notice them (you can borrow mine if headaches are one of your cues too!).
Pay attention: our bodies are so wise, and so willing to share helpful insights with us – if we’re willing to listen. Set an intention to start paying attention to, hearing, and honoring what your body is asking for, whether it’s rest, sunshine, more water, more greens, or a gentle yoga routine. Get in the habit of asking your body what it needs, and it will tell you!
Start right now: close your eyes, take a breath, and ask your body what it wants most in this very moment.
Did something come to mind? If so, I invite you to schedule whatever it was, then honor yourself and your body by actually doing it later today!
No matter how full my life gets or what tasks I think I need to get done, not once have I ever regretted slowing down to take care of myself. I promise you won’t regret it either.
What's one thing you'll do to honor your body today? Let me know in the comments below!
To a happy, healthy mind + body,