What happened was that while I was doing my South Island event tour, I was also doing a lot of walking in preparation for a 52km hill country hike. During my daily 2, 3 and 4-hour walks, I discovered that if I stopped for just 2 minutes every hour (sit down, eat a mouthful of food, take a swig of water) I stayed fresh and energetic. I actually ultimately covered more distance BY STOPPING than I did by keeping going! (The Sagittarian in me would have had me do the whole session without stopping and I would have been exhausted afterwards and unable to do anything for the rest of the day!)
Fresh from this realization, lo and behold the next day's affirmation on my calendar read "I do my best work when I give myself short periods of rest". I kid you not! Thanks Louise!
It got me thinking about whether there were other ways that I overdid things and if my magic "Stop to keep going" might stand me in good stead in other areas of life. (This might be old hat to you, but if you have a pattern of going to the point of exhaustion too, read on!)
Combine my astrological temperament (Sagittarian: not known for moderation as I said) with the belief patterns I picked up as a kid about the importance of finishing things, doing things right and being helpful and the result is that I have often found myself over-doing things: exercise (to the point of injury); chores (to the point of exhaustion); being flexible and responsive to other people (to the point of displacing my own important stuff); writing (to the point of frustrating brain – fade); anxiety (to the point of breakdown) and so on. You get the picture!
I've justified this behaviour for years by telling myself "I like doing things properly", "I like to finish things" and "I don't mind being interrupted". Truth is that my self-talk could easily be re-phrased as "I'm not good enough unless I reach a certain standard, get it all done or put other people ahead of myself". BAM! My thoughts were creating a reality where I ended up feeling let down by my body and mind over and over again.
What was really showing up for me was a big healing reminder about "self – care" (aka self-love). Yes, periodic massages, meditation, exercise and good nutrition are all part of my self – care practice. But what I'd discovered through my 'Stop to keep going' experience was the things I need to do to love myself and my body on an hour-by-hour, every day basis. I got the message loud and clear: no amount of meditation and good food is going to compensate for habitually "pushing through" and taking myself to the point of overtiredness!
Turns out what I need, regardless of what I'm doing, is a short break about once an hour that includes a change of scene, a little drink and a little food (if I'm being active). Just 2 minutes. It refreshes me. It clears my head. It gives my body a break. It keeps me at my best. Waiting to take a break til my current task is completed to a high (perfectionist!) standard isn't loving to myself and actually gets poorer results.
Those magic 2 minutes communicates "I love you" to my inner being. It says "Relax. All is well. We'll get there (and if we don't get there today it doesn't matter)." They also communicate "I care about you. I respect your body and brain enough to not ask more of them than they can reasonably offer at one go".
My 2 minutes is all about moderation in the way I do things. It's also about respecting the inner boundaries that are necessary to keep me safe, healthy, positive, motivated and in balance. It helps to take the urgency out of things ("I must get this done") and foster a healthy perspective about their relative importance ("This can wait til tomorrow – or next week").
I also realized that I had fallen into the trap of assuming that the typical practice of taking breaks at morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea were adequate for me. I learned that what other people do for self-care may not necessarily work for me. It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
If you were here I'd ask you: If the self – care practice you need is unique to you what might it involve?
I kept that wonderful affirmation and taped it onto my desk so I can see it every day. And I found a brilliant app that sounds a bell on the hour every hour. ("BlipBlip". Free from your friendly Playstore!).
I've noticed I'm enjoying what I do more. I have better creative energy and patience. My body isn't getting stiff and sore from long periods of sitting, and my brain is still functioning at the end of the day.
All thanks to my magic 2 minutes!
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