This weekend I went on an incredible retreat that helped me hit the reset button. One thing I became aware of over the weekend, was that somewhere along the line I stopped listening to my body.
One day last week, I had a migraine so bad I was throwing up at work. I mean projectile vomiting, like in ‘The Exorcist.’ I knew my body was telling me to STOP!!! But the next morning I woke up and with my head still pounding and nausea hitting me hard I thought, “I can’t do this to my coworkers, I can’t call out. We are already so short.” I thought about all the times I’d written about the importance of sick days, and how I’d reminded others the world would still go on without them. And then I thought, “Yeah, yeah I know but in this case, I need to be there.” And then I got so nauseous I couldn’t move. My body officially took over for my mind, and I called out. And guess what? Everyone survived! The world continued to rotate on its axis, and I got well.
Our bodies cannot be ignored and more importantly they are telling us so much, but we have to listen. If we have a headache, we take pills. We don’t investigate why we have a headache, we just “take care of it.” A couple of months ago, I went through a bottle of extra strength Tylenol in record time. I didn’t notice I was going through the bottle until it was empty. I wasn’t paying attention to why I needed this medication so often. I was just taking it and ignoring all the signs.
This does not mean we need to be concerned or hyper aware about every ache and pain, but we can learn from what our bodies are so desperately trying to tell us. For the majority of us, I believe the message is SLOW DOWN.
After my sick day, when I got back to work I made a decision. I wasn’t going to run anymore. (I don’t work in an ER, so rarely do I need to run.) I wasn’t going to multi-task, and I wasn’t going to stress. Somewhere along the line, we were told stress was a given. But I wasn’t having any of it! I was also going to say NO if we didn’t have the staff, instead of begrudgingly saying “yes” and trying to make the impossible happen. And lastly I was going to take a lunch. I had been very protective of everyone’s lunches and now it was time to protect mine as well. And guess what? Again, everyone survived. And I got lunch.
The thing is, when you stop paying attention to your body, you also stop noticing other things too. Because when you’re overworked or experiencing burnout, you’re pretty much in survival mode. And survival mode doesn’t leave a lot of room for anything else. Like noticing the magic moments that are happening all around us. So this week, I encourage you to join me in this new quest of paying better attention.
Take care of YOU!