It was bound to happen; especially considering the pace I’ve been trying to keep up with all summer long. I’ve hit a wall. A big one made of bricks, mortar and stone that threw me flat on my butt.
In full disclosure it didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, but hindsight (being the raw and honest teacher that it is) has shown me that there were a great many signs that the wall was coming.
Listen to Your Body
If you are a regular reader you will know that I just spruced up my post on the poultice and if you read it, you’ll know that I suffered second degree burns making elderberry syrup. When you’re tired and you have too much on your plate it’s very easy to forgetful to be mindful. Working too fast and not paying attention to what you’re doing; we’ve all been there before. That’s exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago when my potato masher slipped while I was mashing berries and my whole hand when into the pot of boiling syrup. In addition to my hand, I received bad burns to my chest when hot berries and syrup went down my shirt after yanking my hand out of the pot. Had I been mindful and paid attention to what I was doing, the burns could have been avoided, but I was tired and I had more to do than I could handle.
My healing was slowed significantly when I kept pushing. I had every excuse in the book – “there’s still so much produce to be processed” – “I’ve got orders to complete” – “the laundry is piled high” – “the house is a mess” – “there is food literally rotting in our garden“. I should know better but us herbalists/natural health practitioners can be terrible at taking our own advice at times.
Just as my burns finally start to show healing promise (no more bandages – yahoo!) I get hit with a cold/sinus infection. You see, here’s the thing about the universe and messages (if you believe that sort of thing which I do)… when you ignore your body long enough it just keeps sending louder messages until it practically slaps you in the face.
So as I write this I’m down and out with a cold… yes, yes I know I’m still working.
Listen to Your Heart and Soul
This is not the first time that brick wall has reared it’s head in my life and I know the signs well (knowing them and listening to them are two very different things my friends 😉 ). If the burns and the cold weren’t enough, I started to notice a chance in my patterns, behaviours and motivation level. Had this been June and my garden was full of fresh, organic produce I would have been itching to find a way to stick it in a jar. I was FULL of energy this summer and canned/preserved daily. In between that I was vending at a local farmers market, working in the garden daily, wild harvesting herbs and making herbal products. I knew there was no way I could keep up that pace forever.
The last two weeks have been much slower. I find I have no motivation to cook, can or preserve much of anything anymore. I’ve put down the pressure canner and picked up the crochet hooks.
I know my patterns, habits and behaviours well. Once the crochet hooks come out and the binge watching of cheesy TV starts – which is Heartland thanks to my sister in case anyone is curious (no judging a gal for liking a Canadian show about horses alright!!) – I know that it’s time to slow right now. A snail’s pace as it were. 😉
As much as some folks like to forget or ignore this fact, us humans are mammals and all mammals have natural rhythms and cycles to their lives. Honouring those natural rhythms and cycles is key to healthy, happy and balanced life. If your body is telling you to slow down, then slow down. If you need to scale back, then scale back. And if produce needs to rot in the garden, then let it rot and fertilize your soil.
This is so much easier said than done. As adults we have obligations, jobs, children, households/homesteads and families that need us. I was commenting to my husband this morning how I miss the days of being sick in my early twenties. Call in sick and spend the whole day drinking tea/orange juice and staying in bed. Those days are long gone as I now have a kiddo to drive to school and pick up, appointments that cannot be broken, a home based business and that same kiddo to occupy in the afternoons while making dinner, folding laundry etc.
So while it isn’t easy to put yourself first, no one else is going to do it for you.
It’s Okay to Say No
Whenever I say “no” to a request I feel like someone else has to pay the price, but sometimes you just need to know when your plate is too full. Human folk are resilient and even if your “no” is inconvenient to someone else, they will survive. They will get along without you if need be. Plus if you aren’t your best self right now, you need to be honest with yourself and ask “how much help am I really going to be to that person?”
Write It Down
The best way to honour your body’s rhythms is to learn about them. It’s taken me years to really get to know my patterns and habits, but now I can see them coming in advance and plan for them. If you start to observe your own nature and patterns, then you can prevent burnout situations instead of having to survive them. Some folks get angry when they reach burnout. Others turn into hibernating bears that crochet and watch Heartland. Maybe you sleep a lot more when your plate is too full… or perhaps you can’t sleep because your mind is whirling and twirling. Sleeping patterns, food habits and emotions are the main areas that most people find change when they reach burnout levels and while these are good guidelines, no two people are alike and everyone’s patterns and habits are different. Try your best to learn yours.
Let Some Stuff Slide
Today my laundry is going in the dryer and not on the line and I don’t care. Sure it’s going to cost some hydro and sure it’s a perfectly lovely day to line dry, but I NEED to not hang laundry today. I need that off my plate and out of my mind.
If you need to order pizza or live off eggs and toast for a week, then DO IT. As long as the family has food in their bellies they will be okay. Let the dust bunnies gather and the dishes pile. If it keeps you sane and happy, then it’s worth it.
Ask for Help
This is by far the hardest thing for many of us to do. Asking for help can put you in a vulnerable state because it lets people know that you need help. Many of us want to put on a brave face and not let the world know we are suffering but in the end that only hurts you and your family.
Now it’s not as simple as asking for help; you need to know what kind of help to ask for and who to ask. Ask someone you trust and someone you know will help and not just say they will. It’s also important to ask for the right kind of help. Sure, help with the dishes and laundry is good for day to day survival, but if you are in a funk, depression or are burnt out, you need a different kind of help.
You need someone who is going to hold you accountable for your own health. Someone who is going to ensure you scale back, write in your journal, go for a walk or use that meditation app you downloaded weeks ago. While these are just examples, acts like this will allow you to recover and heal as opposed to just survive each day.
Autumn is about slowing down. Reflect on those things that truly matter and take some advice from a tree… let go.
Peace and love,