I've spent years thinking I needed to do it all. 2016 came, and I made the decision to honor more rest. I'm happy to report there has been more rest and taking necessary downtime for myself. Currently, I'm in the midst of a month-long break, and embracing every moment.
Little did I know, towards the end of 2015, I was in full burnout. So it has been my goal to restore myself back to someone who appreciates living in the moment every day. I am working to remove the idea of getting caught up in the past or stressing about the future.
If you are finding yourself in the midst of crazy, which is becoming more important in our hyper-connected lives, here is some insight on why I chose to rest, and why you may need to as well.
1 / I felt the warning signs.
After finding this last month, I knew I made the right choice. Being able to nod my head at each sign was a clear indicator of being on an unhealthy path for my emotional and mental health. The biggest red flag for me was feeling lethargic - each day seemed to drag on and the fact I couldn't help but fall asleep in the living room almost every night showed itself loud and clear. My body was in a constant state of soreness, a level I knew wasn't normal.
2 / To focus on unplugging more.
By not jam-packing my schedule, I have found more downtime at home. I am starting to savor this feeling more and more. On top of that, I am being more intentional about unplugging, even if just for the evening. I used to have a constant state of stress in my mind of tasks to be done. Where once my planner was used to make obscene to-do lists, it is now a place to be more intentional; sometimes, I even take a step back to see if it is something worth writing down, or if I would be better off just doing it.
3 / My eating had gone out the window.
And not in the junk food way you may be thinking. I was only craving sweets and simple carbs, which is an indicator to me of being in a prolonged, stressed state. Since starting on a path of intuitive eating, I was doing my body right by honoring those cravings. I also knew I needed to find the trigger on why only cookies sounded good for dinner. As I started accepting more time for rest days, my body began craving better meals. I found motivation to make new dinners and was back in a place of more than just sweets and simple carbs.
4 / I had less gratitude.
The mind funk was heavy, and I found myself focusing on the positive less and less. All of the energy put into positivity was starting to get dominated by negativity and the littlest annoyances. The resolution? Setting a phone reminder to write down five things at the end of each day I am grateful for. Even after a tough day, doing this before bed lets me reflect on the good in the day. This is a habit I've made from January 1, and I can't wait to be able to look back on this at the end of 2016.
5 / Happiness was low.
Don't get me wrong, there was happiness in most days. But there were also days where I let stress take over, and happiness was pushed aside. After that lightbulb moment, I knew putting a focus on what made me happy was exactly what I needed. Finding what makes us happy again after feeling like it has been lost means going to the core of ourselves to find those simple moments of happiness, which went hand-in-hand with more gratitude.
6 / There was no time.
When you wake up in the morning and feel like you rush through the day until your head hits the pillow again, but don't feel like you've had a moment to breathe and do something for you...that's when I really knew. I had to find what mattered most at my core, and focus on only that. First and foremost, it was me; if I couldn't do that, there was no way to connect with the people who mean the most in my life. Self-care can be severely underrated in a society where always being busy is praised and applauded in most cases.
7 / Society made me believe it was okay.
Unless we bring more awareness into our lives, we can blindly live each moment in the eyes of society. Instead of doing what we want and what we crave, we fall into society's trap. What I saw around me was people doing it all, getting little sleep and saying "I'm busy" all the time. My mind was tricked into believing it was all okay. But it wasn't. And it won't ever be okay. I know now how bad it is to rely on 4.5 hours of sleep, how exhausting scheduling out each moment can be. After dropping society's pressure, I found people who weren't living this life. And that was what I wanted for myself.
8 / I needed to give myself permission.
Permission to rest, to miss a workout here and there, to honor my cravings, to enjoy doing nothing. My close friend Julianna covered it all perfectly. I had let guilt get the best of me when it came to resting, and I needed to start giving myself permission for what my mind needed. Giving the okay to myself to take a month off was difficult initially, but the days to follow were filled with multiple points of confirmation I was doing what was right for me.
9 / My sense of self was foggy.
My mind still has a light fog over it, but nothing compares to what I was feeling at the start of 2016. If anything, an extended amount of rest and more focus on self-care is helping to lift this fog. The fact I can get back into blogging and wake up with a strong pull to do the simple things to bring me happiness has helped immensely. Even taking the opportunities to hold and work through each emotion has removed so much of this fog.
10 / Because my gut said so.
We can all read through the above reasons, and push past if rest is needed. But when your gut is saying rest? You should listen. I pushed past for a good month before using my power to finally honor this rest for myself.
As I continue to live through this season of rest, I realized it has been a harder journey than I had anticipated. Choosing self-care and rest is tougher than I realized, and has required a different level of dedication to make these changes.
I get to learn more about myself each and every day as I make the choices to make me happy.