Listening to Your Body When It's Time for a Break
Have you ever had one of those days where you just feel like a big old poo emoji? I have.
It happened recently. I woke up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed. I didn’t feel sick per-say. Just really run down. During my spin class that morning, I felt like I had zero drive. I didn’t want to do jumps and isolations and tap backs. I wanted to lay down on the floor and take a nap.
I pushed through my class the best I could. I would have put money on that being one of my weakest classes since I started.
I didn’t want to let it bother me but it sort of did. I went home and got ready then went to work. I got stuck in construction traffic and experienced a little road rage. Admittedly, this isn’t entirely out of character but still a little concerning. Later, a comment from a co-worker really pissed me off even though I knew deep down that I was taking the comment personally in a way that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with them (as is the case with all hurtful comments). Something was definitively off.
So, I started taking inventory of what was going on. I came up with a list of things that could potentially be the source of my fatigue so I could tackle it and move on with my life. That’s my nature. Identify the threat and destroy it.
Was it because I stayed up a little later than normal the night before and didn’t get a full 8 hours? Maybe but I got 7 hours. Could 1 hour really throw me off by that much?
Was it because I had just returned from a 10 day stint of not exercising except for walking? Very possible. Spin is no joke. And it’s always tough coming back but that doesn’t explain my fatigue before class.
Was it because of my cycle? Hard to say. I’ve never been great at keeping close track and I’m even less bothered to take note since having an IUD placed.
Was it because I changed brands of coffee and this brand isn’t as caffeinated as my previous bag of beans? Seems unlikely but if it’s true, I’ll sue.
Was it because I was on day 22 of a Whole30 and I was just done? Possibly. I hit the Google box hard and it seems to be a common problem for people around the Day 21 mark.
Then I kind of had an ah-ha moment. That day was not the problem. Sure, where I am in my cycle, the fact that I had taken on the challenge of a Whole30, and that I didn’t get a full night’s sleep could have all factored into my mental state that day. But to say it was the cause of my grumpy, moody, sleepy state? That would be discounting a whole slew of things that have been building up over the last 4 weeks.
That particular day was 3 days after I dropped my sister and my darling nieces off at the airport after a 10 day visit and said goodbye until December - a fact that weighed heavy on my heart. In order to enjoy the time they were here in Maine to the fullest, I had re-arranged my schedule through a series of complicated shift swaps that resulted in me working a few 50 hour weeks leading up to their arrival (worth it).
While I was with them, I rearranged my sleep schedule (they wake up MUCH earlier than I usually do). I played in the water and built many sand castles. We colored and played hide-and-seek. We befriended baby cows and chased chickens. We did crafts and built towers out of blocks and Legos. We read books. We watched Paw Patrol.
We were capital B busy! And it was glorious. After dropping them off at the airport, I rushed to a spin class, then the grocery store.Then I spent the day tidying up and meal prepping. I didn’t rest. I didn’t rest my body or my soul. I just kept going and it caught up with me.
I knew I needed to take a step back and recover. I need rest. I don’t like to admit it but downtime is essential to my well-being.
So, I looked at my planner. Where could I cut back? What could I do differently?
Step 1: Physically Resting : My Scaling back my workouts. I canceled my next spin class, slept in that morning, and did some stretching instead. And I felt amazing.
Step 2: Say no to plans (or compromise). When my bestie texted me to invite me for a beach day that was over an hour away, I didn’t let the guilt of knowing what I needed hold me back. I said no but offered to meet her at the beach that was about half-way between us. She agreed. And it was a great day.
Step 3: Asking for help: Thomas offered to help me check off some to do list items. I released the guilt around having someone else do something I should be able to handle and took him up on. He set to work doing some general tidying up around the house and changing a few lightbulbs. And it was a huge relief.
The moral of the story is ‘listen to your body’. If you are feeling run down, that’s not because the world is against you. It’s because you are spreading yourself too thin. Sometimes, we try to push through that feeling when,on the otherside, is a really fantastic reward or opportunity. Sometimes, we’re just trying to do it all. Either way, it’s all going to catch up to us eventually.
When your body starts signalling that it needs a break. Take a damn break. That break might look like skipping a workout to sleep in. It might be telling your kids that they need to entertain themselves while you enjoy a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s taking a mental health day from work. Whatever a break looks like to you, do it. Don’t put it off because you’re almost done with that project. There will always be another project or deadline or chore or load of laundry. Take a break.
I promise your body will thank you for it. I promise that the world will not end. Nor will your career be ruined. You will still be able to reach your fitness goals.
All of those things that are important to you, you’ll still be able to accomplish. Sometimes taking a break is the thing that sparks the big idea or renews your passion. Resting may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
Tell me how you take a break in the comments below.