This journey has days when all you want to do is sleep yet there is so much to do. Many of us take pride in the fact that we keep going for long hours thinking that we are achieving a lot but when we look back…something is losing out.
I used to pride myself in never saying no to anyone or letting anyone down when it came to work and my people but I was really letting someone very important down. Why? Myself. We were raised to do our best and I interpreted it to mean never being the weak link so I did all I needed to do to ensure I never let others down. My theory was to always deliver above and beyond the call of duty no matter when and no matter what.
Then one day just after my nineteenth birthday my body packed. I went to bed fine and the next day and for six weeks after that, I couldn’t get up or do more than sleep. It was the longest few months of my life as I prepared to go to university but by the time I reported three months later I was well and off I went to the high-speed life of campus life.
Ha! I didn’t learn or remember the lesson because many years later while running my own business and being mummy and everything else…it happened again. The second time around was even worse than the first time as I had all sorts of breakdowns in just ten weeks. It didn’t happen out of the blue like the first time because I knew the signs but was unable to put brakes on my life and find balance. This time I promised myself it would be the last time I burn out.
I had seen what burnout did to my mother. It was six months in bed and a couple of years of painstaking recovery after that including an early retirement on medical grounds. It was shocking to know that this once super active woman got exhausted doing simple things like walking around the court. Driving to Nairobi was impossible for many months. I knew that even if I thought I was superwoman before, those days are long gone. I wasn’t willing to be in bed without the ability to rise again.
I learnt to listen to my body because it never lies.
I wish I had learnt to exercise in those days. Food was never really a challenge but getting up and going for a walk or working out in the house was unheard off for me…I didn’t have the time or interest.
What did I do? I learnt to take time every so often to just chill…oh yes…just sit still. It included simple holidays to see friends and sit by the ocean every morning, or watching peoples timelines and enjoy the photos of where they have been, or just go to bed and sleep in the middle of the day if I was too tired to focus or read a great book. I also taught my little man that if mum is sleeping she is not to be disturbed. When he was younger and I took a nap, he would climb in with me and sleep because he didn’t want to be bored. These days he is his own man.
I realised that I had to teach myself to press restart and rest as well as teach my people to respect the fact that I am resting. So if you come to my house and I am asleep please know that the little man won’t wake me up unless you are on the prequalified list of people…yes, we have one of those. The beauty of my prequalified people, they won’t be upset if I am asleep in fact, they will spend time with the young man until I get up.
One thing is for sure, I have learnt to restart often and it is making a difference in my life.
How many times have you ignored aches and pains or a foggy brain or other symptoms just to get work done or not to disappoint that person? Just think about it carefully and be honest with yourself.
When was the last time just pressed restart?