by Berenice Boxler.
There is tiredness, a deep fatigue that has nothing to do with the long walk I went on yesterday or with the fact that my sleep was interrupted. Surely it is also the weather, the dark season, or the prospect of a break in the near future that makes my body speak to me with every fibre: Now take a break! But it is not only the body. It becomes tangible to me every morning: I wake up, my head switches on and reflects on the tasks of the day. And I notice this relieved sigh deep inside me when I realize that I can stay home tonight.
The year draws to a close
I guess that’s normal at this time of year. Planning the Christmas days and travels, getting presents, buying winter shoes in a hurry, Christmas parties and markets everywhere – which often means a certain pressure of bringing baked goods – washing muddy pants and shoes regularly, trying not to constantly grab a candy bar, and so on. Yes, it’s a lot (especially for the brain) and tiring, the year feels long and it does something to you to have the year’s end ahead. Even if you don’t want to admit this or New Year’s Eve won’t be celebrated, a kind of interim reflection is made unconsciously and this signals to the whole organism: time for a break. The body does not need a second invitation and slowly but surely switches the gears down…
With planning through the days
My weeks are always planned, in December as well as in May: on Sundays I think about my professional and private priorities for the next week, my courses and workshops, I plan in time slots for sports and grocery, for driving services for the children and whatever other appointments are due. My brain works analytically, and writing down a plan helps me keeping my head available for other things. But if to-do lists or plans are too rigid, they can quickly cause difficulties. In the past, there was a lot of disappointment or frustration and irritation when I hadn’t followed my daily agenda.
Life does not go straight ahead
But life just doesn’t go according to plan. “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” said John Lennon. He’s right. Still, I continue to make plans, but they are increasingly flexible, more of an intention for a specific focus: I would like to start writing this article today (which can mean a lot, because I never know how long it will take), go through two units of a course and update them, and also do 20 minutes of sports. Oh yes, grocery shopping is also on the agenda. Reading and meditating on the other hand are not, I always do it at fixed times or when my head needs a break from the computer.
No, I didn’t accomplish this overnight. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to find your own working rhythm. And it doesn’t always work out so well. In addition, there are also bosses’ requirements, fix working hours or other limitations. Maybe an important e-mail comes in which takes up 30 minutes of your precious time. Therefore, there is no right/wrong or better/less useful. The internal and external circumstances are always changing, which means that a plan needs to be flexible and adaptable.
Stop, drop your work, look inward
But what is always helpful is to pause and feel what is actually right or necessary right now. Just observing without evaluating or criticizing.
It could look like this:
My body clearly signals to me that it is exhausted. Why this is the case or whether I like it is not really important. It’s just like that. – This means that my usual sports plan is adapted to what my body needs right now. For example a shortened session, a rest day, a massage instead of strength training, more sleep, etc.
The wet and cold weather influences my mood, I feel very uncomfortable outside. – Maybe I’ll take more time in the next few days to have a cosy reading session on the sofa with a cup of tea and some candles.
I notice that the celebrations and the baking requests somehow stress me out. – I decide to use simple and familiar recipes because I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. It’s about being together and sharing, not a competition.
There are chocolate and cookies everywhere, and it’s hard for me to say “no, thank you”. My body shows me that it really had enough sugar for this week, but there is also this habitual craving for more. – I’m trying to take the signals and well-being of my body important enough to slow it down a bit. Quitting completely is probably unrealistic, but maybe one piece per day is enough?
Now and here – there’s nothing else
In order to really live life, there is no way around coming into the present from time to time. What is it like now? What is important right now? Yes, a plan can be a helpful framework. But life simply won’t often work out as planned. Last year I spent almost the whole Christmas Eve in bed: a stomach upset had knocked me out. The children decorated the tree alone, my husband organized the shopping, and I stayed in bed for hours in a very quiet house, constantly wavering between bad conscience, physical discomfort and enjoying the peace. But there was also a lot of acceptance: that’s how it is right now.
Now my body is tired again, it shows it with different aches and pains and general tiredness. That doesn’t feel good, but it’s okay! The body is allowed to be tired after the enormous performance it grants me every day. But there can also be mental exhaustion: it has been a lot in the last few weeks and I notice that I didn’t allow myself many breathing breaks to feel it – and then to let it go again. There is still a lot left unfelt and unnoticed and the body now demands a break to give the organism the space and rest it needs. What a miracle, this being human!
My invitation for the coming days
Allow yourself to stop again and again, to listen inside, to feel what is there to be felt, to trust the signals of your body and your intuition and to allow yourself to do nothing.
And then from this place inside, to enjoy, to be happy, to take care of yourself, to withdraw or to open up, to argue or to love, to feel insecure, to ground yourself, to share, to be here for life in this moment.
“The most crucial advice I can give? Simply: Stop, just for this moment. Put down your work. And see.”