I’m not good at pausing. You may think that because I practice mindfulness and tout its benefits, run retreats and genuinely love wellness that I’m really good at taking a pause.
I can be. I definitely schedule in massages and facials, I run (irregularly…as in almost never), go boxing, schedule time with friends, and read (I adore my book group). I actually do a pretty good job at taking breaks when I can (yay, me). Yet, at the same time, I am fairly poor at slowing down; at not cramming and cramming more onto my plate until I reach a tipping point. This is my life pattern – one I continue to repeat even though I know better.
Over the course of the last few months, I have been experiencing significant sleep deprivation. This is not surprising given I have a newborn (and no, he doesn’t have colic; praise be). I’m usually up 4-5 times per night for multiple feeding sessions with my little (and very sweet) baby boy or to re-insert the GD soother. And, as you know (if you read my posts regularly), I am not one that fares well with sleep deprivation. In fact, I become an absolute troll. As one my very best friends aptly said while relating her experience to my current state: you feel like a shell of your former self, faking your way through conversations (and life in general).
So while experiencing the joys of sleep loss, instead of resting, I decided to run an event for my business (it was rad), schedule two retreats (you should come), speak at three separate events, and immerse myself in the world of social media (something my brain doesn’t do too well with). And low and behold, I broke down.
My life pattern has been this: try to overcome and ignore stress in one area of my life by busying myself with something else. Whether it be planning a photo competition while completing my undergraduate thesis, competing in an olympic length duathalon while preparing for my graduate defense, writing the GMAT exam while 37 weeks pregnant, or growing my small business right out of the gate with a newborn, this be the pattern. And every single time, I wind up feeling more depleted. Surprise, surprise, right?
My tipping point (this time) was Mother’s Day. I was angry. I was rage-filled. I was desperate for love and affection, but unable to allow my family to give it. I was sad. I cried. I yelled. I was not OK.
I knew I was teetering on the edge well before Sunday. Signs all pointed to “watch the F out, Morgan” and “your number is almost up”. At my first-ever acupuncture appointment on Friday, lying on my stomach, I would flinch and my muscles would twitch every time I was needled on my right side. The acupuncturist stated my back and right side are associated with the Yang energy, the masculine, the strong, the doing / active side. She mentioned I might be out of balance. I had to laugh and ask (in my head), “you think?” I share this tidbit because I found it genuinely intriguing. It was yet another indicator that something wasn’t right (trust me, there were waaaaay more, but this post would be a novella if I included everything).
But back to Sunday…the tipping point.
That day, I resolved to sleep train my son. And that night, I did. Soother was removed and only one feed at night. And it worked. It’s been working. We are only two nights in and I’m seeing significant change. Not just in my son, but in myself. I’m feeling hopeful for the first time in months.
So why am I sharing this? It’s not for pity (I am not a fan). It’s not for attention (even though I love being centre stage). I honestly dislike sharing something so raw. This part of my personality can, at times, help me to be successful, but it is also makes me sick. And not just the “I’ve got a cold because I’m run down” sick, I mean the “I can’t stop crying and being angry” kind of sick.
I’m sharing this because I want to encourage you to introspect and understand your own stress patterns. It’s important to understand what the heck is going on before you can make any attempt to change.
Questions to ask:
- What do you do when you’re stressed? Eat, exercise, sleep, go out, drink, stop eating, drown yourself in social media, send photos, read, go inward, stop talking, start talking more, spend money, cry, yell, rage, get super nice, passive aggressive, have sex / stop having sex, over schedule?
- Do you even know you’re doing it? What clues you in? Do you catch yourself or does someone else?
- Is this a pattern (you will have done it before)?
- Does it provide some benefit thus making it a hard pattern to adjust or correct? My patterns can lead to great returns, which is sometimes why it’s hard for me to stop or break them. Another example of a positive return: when you’re stressed, you eat less and lose weight. If you are happy about losing weight, you may perpetuate the cycle because it’s leading to something “positive”.
There is power in pause.
We simply won’t be able to sustain and be well if we don’t pause. I know this. You know this. Yet, we keep pushing and pushing (at whatever it is we choose to push on with).
So when you recognize that you’re starting down your stress pathway:
- Stop. Take a moment and try to understand why.
- Ask yourself those questions.
- Get comfortable with your stress response. If you actually want to make a change, you need to truly understand what’s going on.
- Spend some time thinking about what your pause and rest looks like.
- Think about how rest and pause can be integrated in a more regular and consistent way into your routine.
I’m pausing. You should too. We all should.
My rest includes sleep. It also includes writing, blogging, the odd vlog (as I love my new YouTube channel), walking, gardening, reading and meditating. It also will include a more balanced approach to my business. Thus, my rest still includes all of my activities (because I wouldn’t be well without them either), but it will include them at a more reasonable pace. Something that I will continue to work on and monitor as I know how quickly things can move to a frenzy.
More importantly, my rest includes letting my husband in and allowing myself to be comforted. This is not something I’m good at; my Yin energy needs work. I want to work on my gentleness. I don’t want to always feel so ugly inside (and out every so often).
My rest does not include a lot of social media or wine. Social media is essential for business growth, but my brain on social media is not good. I mean is anyone’s? I don’t think us humans were built to withstand the tortures of social media and come out the other side a better version of ourselves. I really don’t. Anyways, let’s save the social media rant for another day.
You are worth the pause. I’m worth the pause. I will keep reminding myself of this as I move forward. You should too.
If you want a laugh, check out my YouTube Channel, Mom(me)Thinks.