I've had a crazy month. I spent weeks being insanely busy and then a week being really sick. This is the first time in a while that my schedule and health have been somewhat normal. And I've been fighting the "shoulds" all week.
Why am I so tired? I should be bouncing back faster.
I missed a few weeks of studio work, I should be painting more.
My house is a disaster, I should be cleaning.
It's been a year since I put tile up around the kitchen backsplash, I should be grouting it this week since it's Spring Break. For that matter, I should clean out the garden, work on my son's quilt, tackle the pile of alterations in my sewing room and clean out the storm room so we can actually get in there this storm season.
And I just can't.
I've fallen asleep at 8:00 pm several nights this week. I've shoveled stuff behind my son's closed bedroom door to deal with later. I did do one painting. I binge watched some broadcasts on essential oils the one night I didn't fall asleep right after dinner. But, mostly I've done a lot of nothing I didn't absolutely have to do. I skipped meetings. I canceled appointments. We didn't do anything remotely "stay-cation-ish" for Spring Break. I just couldn't find the energy or ambition.
I suspect I was further away from health than I thought I was. Not just sicker than I thought, though that's probably true too, but soul-drained. There's been a lot of energy emptied and not a lot replaced.
We want recovery to happen quickly and efficiently. But, recovery happens on its own schedule. I had a fever of 100 to 102 degrees for 6 or 7 days. When it finally broke I had another day or so of still feeling sick. Then comes the in-between phase. That period of time when your body is better enough that your mind is free to remember all the stuff that didn't get done while you were sick, but your body's not quite ready to do all the things yet. And it's so easy to jump right back into life before being fully recovered.
This time, recovery seems to be taking longer than usual. I'm tiring out quickly, I'm still sleeping a lot and I'm sluggish. Part of the problem might be that it's allergy season, so I'm not sure I'll get back to feeling great for a few months.
But, it is what it is. If my body needs more rest, it simply needs more rest. Applying "should" to it...as in I "should" be feeling 100% by now is pretty useless. I need to listen to my body and let it recover. I'm much better at this than I used to be. Years ago, I'd probably have been back training this week. I did get back to the gym this week. Once. And then stayed home and walked the next few days. Took more days off than usual and didn't worry about it all that much.
What I'm not as good at is allowing time for mental and emotional recovery. Things have been pretty intense around here for a long time. And I think I just hit my limit. Sometimes your head and heart need recovery time too. If that means reading a trash novel. Go for it. If it means doing something you love, do that. For me this week, I haven't had the capacity to even want to do things that I love. Hiking was too energetic. Quilting was too. Reading required too much thought. Visiting local places I love like Cheekwood, museums or art galleries sounded more exhausting than fun. Things that usually fill my emotional bank were just too much. I spent some time on social media, but that only served to make me feel worse about the things I wasn't doing, so I shut that off.
All that makes me realize that I was more depleted than I thought I was. If you find yourself in a place like I am, where you need rest and recovery...listen to your body, heart and mind and take that time. Take it without self judgment. Ignore the "shoulds" that crop up and focus on body and soul repair.
We need both rest and recovery. In the training world. rest and recovery are two different things. Rest is sleep and not training. If we're not talking about training, but about life, rest is sleep and not doing the things causing the need for rest. So, it's sleep and Not Doing. It's sleep and being. We need need need this in our lives and I've been doing a lot of that this week. In my head, I think I've been feeling guilty about it. This is where the "shoulds" have cropped up. But, either I've been too tired for that to effect my emotions, or I've been to emotionally smart. Let's go with smart.
While it might be bugging me on one level, I didn't get anxious about it, didn't worry about it and knew that it was the right thing to do. I wish I had been able to articulate this earlier in the week, I would have been more intentional about the "being" part of that "sleep and be" definition. What would that look like? Focusing on the present moment. Meditation. Noticing the sun on my skin. Paying attention to sensory details. Not spending mental energy on the past or future. Allowing Being to be the focus of my attention and a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself.
And then there's recovery. Breakingmuscle.com says recovery,
"refers to techniques and actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include hydration, nutrition, posture, heat, ice, stretching...stress management, compression, and time spent standing versus sitting versus lying down. Recovery is multifaceted and encompasses more than just muscle repair. Recovery involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more."
Recovery is doing the things for yourself that help you repair. If we're talking about life, some of these apply, like hydration, nutrition and stress management. But other self-care activities, things that fill your tank emotionally, spiritually and mentally, are a big part of recovery. These are different for everyone. For introverts, it might mean alone time. For extroverts, it might mean people time. Figure out what it means for you. Do those things in seasons of recovery, but also work them into your weekly routines to refill your tanks as you go along.
The art this week is about how I feel at the moment. Most of the colors are muted. I can still be functional, still red, green, yellow or blue...but not at my best and brightest. The longer I live in that state of depletion, the more the colors fade. The closer they get to muddy gray and black. But, there's a kernel of color. Rest and recovery will bring back vibrancy. And it often begins where the black is the strongest.
Where are you in this season? Do you need rest and recovery? Are you good at it? I'm going to practice this week and see if I can get the vibrant colors to take over the rest of the canvas. I'll let you know how it goes!
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