It’s time for a Thinking Out Loud Thursday, lovelies 🙂
Thanks to Amanda for hosting this link-up, and I truly hope I don’t damage its integrity by rambling incessantly!
Do you ever stop and think about how our society attaches so much value to- even glorifies- being busy?
When you catch up with a friend and you ask them how they are, and they blow air out of their cheeks with a big whoooosh, and go, “It’s been pretty busy, I’ve been doing 60 hour weeks and I’ve started going to the gym at 5.30 so I can get my exercise in each day before work, and I’m working on this project on the side that has me up until 12am…” and on and on. I’m totally guilty of it myself. Or at least, I was, until I stopped being able to. And slowly retreated into a shame mentality of ‘not enough’.
The truth is, I’ve actually felt like, in some ways, my capacity to get things done- to work, to be productive, to be efficient, to progress- has shrunk over the past few years. After traumatic years of difficult circumstances and mental and physical illness, which I have thankfully recovered from in so many ways, it still seems to take almost nothing to make me overwhelmed, anxious or exhausted. I want less and less on my schedule to feel okay. I crave rest and alone time like nothing else. I crave just having a cry (but this is sadly prevented by being on anti-depressants, so spoonfuls of peanut butter is a great alternative! Heyo!).
Motivation feels utterly out of reach sometimes.
My beautiful housemate Kelsea and I had a wonderful chat today, and I value her friendship so much. Sometimes you just need to talk things out, because you get the chance to articulate truths that you’d never have pulled out of your own soul alone. You understand and empathise with someone else, so you get out of the confines of your own head as well.
I realised a few things, I think, which I thought might be worth sharing.
- When things become a bit busy, or I don’t get enough alone time, or my schedule looks packed, or I’ve got a big job ahead of me, it’s like an ON switch. Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious and unable to cope is my immediate reaction. This, I believe, is rooted in the fear of repeating the past- previously, working myself into the ground brought on all of my illness. The way I protect myself now is to just break down. It’s become my subconscious coping mechanism.
I think this might be what is exhausting me- because it IS exhausting for your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to be constantly switched on. Your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and repair) needs its time in the spotlight!
Ever since I began to recover, I’ve pushed myself to try and fit society’s standards. I’ve worked as much as I could manage, studied, exercised, socialised- but my exhaustion continues to tighten its grip.
So. How do I fix this? Honestly, rest. Keep resting as much as I feel I need. Keep protecting my space and my boundaries so I can slowly begin to rebuild healthy coping mechanisms. Only when I’m in a space of rest and repair will I be able to create distance from my anxiety and thus begin to work on re-wiring my brain. This might be different for some, but after many years of trying to recover on-the-go, I believe this is how it is for me.
- You know what I find a massive de-motivator? Endless possibility. In the world today we are shown the highlight reels of everyone’s lives through social media, and our brain is flooded with images and ideas and new things. Endless career possibilities. Endless entertainment. Endless body image standards. Endless recipes. Endless workouts. Endless health tips. Endless travel ideas. Everything seems unlimited, and it can be crippling.
Kelsea is a gifted visual artist, and she was telling me that she had discovered over the years that she thrived when she had parameters attached to her process. For example, she might only work with 3 colours and 3 tones for a painting, otherwise choice paralyses her. It seems counterintuitive to limit possibility or choice, but she realised that creatively, she thrived in that environment. She overflows with inspiration, and she can focus. She isn’t restricting herself. She’s made decisions that help her to move forwards.
Pablo Picasso limited himself at different stages of his career. In his Blue Period, he only painted in shades of blue. In his Rose period, he only painted in shades of pink/red. And arguably some of his best work came out of that.
In regards to God, the Bible gives us boundaries that we are to live within. This isn’t at all so we feel restricted- it’s an incredibly loving God knowing what’s in our best interests, and wanting us to live the healthiest, most abundant lives we possibly can.
- STOP- seriously Liz, stop- associating rest with shame. That’s tricky for me, because I, like everyone else, attach pride to how much I have on my plate. Somehow I find it validating. So I feel a deep sense of shame resting ‘more than I should’. But it’s not more. I need to be my own health advocate, because nobody else will be.
Why is it in this society that too much exercise = pride, too much work = pride, too few calories = pride, but too much rest = shame? I get that in seeking out rest, I’m going to be judged by others. But when it comes down to it, that doesn’t matter one bit.
And let’s be real- I love being at home! I’m a homebody. My evenings at home alone, or with loved ones, are the things that I crave. Apparently ‘young people’ should always be rushing around drinking/eating irresponsibly and depriving themselves of sleep for the sake of ‘fun’ or whatever. That as a lifestyle? Rather stick a fork in my eye.
Kelsea broadened the topic to an analogy that I thought was beautiful, as we’re both Christians- ‘God is our shield and protector, he provides rest for our souls. This creates a firm foundation from which we can launch out and excel. There is no shame in resting in His provision and care, and even embracing it. Home should be a reflection of that- a safe place, which provides a platform for us to operate from. There should be no shame in loving and embracing the safety and comfort that a home provides.’
A verse that I found comforting was:
Isaiah 40:28- 31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Have a fantastic week, beautiful people. Rest all you need. xx