Slowing down, cutting down the tasks on my list and focusing on myself is something I’ve actively not consistently practiced for the early part of my 20's.
Constantly making myself busy, diving into work and becoming irritable when I’m not busy or have a full schedule has definitely been a trauma response for me- a way to fill my mind and body with tasks and responsibilities to avoid ‘dealing’ with unprocessed feelings from my younger self and addressing the pain accumulated over the years.
The world around me wasn't stopping even when mine was. I wasn't able to process the deaths and life changing events that I was affected by fast enough. I continued my education, working, surviving and kept up with friendships and dating - I had to keep going, everything else was. It was a mindset that I had to adapt to as a teen quickly and since then I’ve powered through with the approach. Although this mindset developed into grit, empowerment, resiliency and pushing through some of the toughest things that I would continue to experience, I saw how it was negatively impacting my well being. Pushing yourself to the limit and staying in survival mode can be so detrimental because you put your own constantly changing and evolving feelings and needs aside in order to keep going. I’d like to think that my late 20's are the part of my journey where I am learning the art of balancing grit and tending to my needs without compromising the other.
I saw that this mindset of not wanting to slow down was detrimental to me when it began affecting my health (more on this in the June blog posts..). After graduating I took on several jobs that were emotionally, mentally and physically draining. While this filled my need to keep busy it further pushed away my need to tend to myself and my own grief and mental health. It would get worse before it got better. My life and well being were now at stake when my health declined. It took getting to my worst then rewiring my brain with the support of therapy and slowing my body down to heal.
During isolation and changes to protocols around physical distancing, life has put us all on pause in one way or another. We have had to try to adapt but for some, their work, socializing and outlets have been put to a stop. We are on pause and taking a break in a sense- to prevent, protect and heal. We live in a society that constantly reaffirms how being busy, productive and working to provide is attributed to our self worth and purpose. It is so twisted but having the time to pause and reflect has made this message so much clearer. Some are feeling the guilt and negative impacts on their mental health due to having to slow down or stop. This is a totally normal response - you are not alone.
It is so important in these times that we shift from this thinking and man is it ever challenging to. Taking the time to reflect and understand your needs and practice self care is so essential. What better time than now? For those whose work and responsibilities have continued in a similar way as to what it was months ago- this is important for you too.
It’s okay to slow down and take a break (however that looks like for you!) especially when the whole world has, too. What other time will this happen- where we're all on the same page? Everyone around you has had to stop, slow down or adjust. Take this time for yourself - to build, refill, connect, discover and learn more about yourself and the world around you.
Although it may appear that the world is on pause and that we are taking a break, know that you are still experiencing the world around you, grieving in a new way, learning to support yourself in a new way and facing changes and challenges in your relationships. That's tough stuff that calls for you to slow down and take self care breaks. Use these positive affirmations, be kinder to yourself and compassionate to your own experience throughout being in this world stopping time - even when it does stop, it never does. Take care of you and know that your experience is valid and deserving of being heard! With pausing and stopping comes resetting and powering up.
Photo taken in 2017 - When I pushed through grief guilt and felt that it was time I'd deserved a break to travel and give back to myself.