Granting Myself A Health-Life Balance
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Have you ever been a bit too overambitious and used up way more spoons than you have?
Have you ever tried to cram too much into your day, despite the fact that you know there would be consequences if you did?
Well, that’s what’s happened to me these last few weeks, and as a result, I am EXHAUSTED…
I’ve spent the last week recovering from my error in judgement, and I’ve been thinking of what compelled me to bite off more than I knew I could chew.
Was I testing my capabilities?
Or was it something else?
Something closer to home that I didn’t want to admit to.
Was it, that despite having built myself this flexible lifestyle to help me better cope with my MS, I am still hanging on to the inflexible 9 to 5 world I used to be part of. And as a result, I am finding myself bound by deadlines of my making.
I talked a lot about work-life balance when I was employed. I was always mindful of this. But what happens once you stop working?
What happens to the balance when your health is your full-time job?
Is there such a thing as health-life balance?
How did I let this happen?
The question I found myself asking was why did I let this happen when I know better?
Upon reflection, there were two culprits I could identify.
Despite the years of teaching self-care to others, I am not entirely immune to feeling guilty when I am resting instead of doing. And these last few weeks this guilt got the better of me. And even though there were no expectations from others I felt compelled to tick off every item on my to-do list. I know better than this but now and then the old me, the workaholic/perfectionist, comes out of hiding and hijacks my ‘go with the flow’ lifestyle.
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Slowly, slowly since I’ve stopped fulltime work, I’ve managed to recreate workplace conditions in my life. I had schedules and deadlines that were entirely self-imposed. My own so-called ‘flexible’ lifestyle started to resemble the inflexible call centre environment I had to escape years ago.
It seems old habits die-hard.
Maybe there was comfort in that familiar routine, even if it was terrible for my health.
Why I shouldn’t feel guilty
The thing is no one should ever feel guilty for needing to slow down for the sake of balance.
Chronic illness is a full-time job, and just like any job, we are permitted time off. Actually, scratch that, it is necessary to have a break!
Granting myself permission
I recently completed a journalling course developed from Brené Brown’s ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ which is about letting go of perfectionism and of ‘Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be’.
One of the journalling activities was to create permission slips which granted us permission to do the things we felt that we couldn’t do.
It was fun to get back in touch with my creative side, and the process of creating these permission slips was actually quite liberating.
I must admit, it felt a bit silly when I was initially asked to create a permission slip for myself, but when I sat down and actually made the permission slip, it began to mean something. Now it’s a visual reminder of the promises that I made to myself.
So, this week I went back through my journal to reflect on the things I had granted myself permission to do.
A reminder to myself
Giving myself permission to take time to rest and recover is all well and good, but I find it’s also helpful to remind myself of exactly why it’s necessary.
How can I overcome guilt without solid reasons as to why balance is so necessary. And correctly identifying the sources of my guilt and why I need to let them go.
I remind myself that;
My health comes first.
No one else is putting pressure on me.
The only expectations are mine.
Life balance is essential no matter what the circumstances.
I deserve it!
What do I plan to do about it?
So now that I’ve come to this realisation, what are the next steps for me?
I’m going to do my version of three R’s:
Rest, Relax, Recover.
And, I’m going to do all those things that are in my self-care toolkit with purpose and a deliberate intention to take better care of myself…
Because I deserve it!
If you feel like giving yourself permission for some health-life balance this week you should also head over to Not Just Tired’s recent blog post ‘30 easy self care ideas when living with chronic illness‘ for some lovely self-care ideas which I’ll also be trying out.