Running On Empty? Rest Awhile and Let Yourself Heal

In Health, She's Enjoying the Journey by Erinne Kennedy, DMD, MPH

Have you ever run yourself ragged (as my grandma would say!)? Recently, I did just that. The month of October was filled with projects, presentations, pumpkin spiced latte’s, and a wicked cold. Boston is beautiful this time of year, but the cold that lasted me 3 weeks was not a bit beautiful. Was the cold wicked? Yes, but did I really rest and allow my body to recover? No . . .

After a long call with my Aunt Beth, who has been a nurse for years, she told me “Erinne, you must rest! Resting doesn’t involve shopping at Target or Macy’s. Resting means having food delivered, sleeping, and giving yourself the needed fluid/nutrients it needs to heal.” Ugh. Can I tell you that I knew this was true? But . . . For two days, I rested (okay, kinda rest, kinda squirming and hoping to get out of the apartment). And you know what? I felt so much better! As professionals, moms, sisters, and health care providers, we are naturally selfless. Many of us so selfless that the word “no” is not in our vocabulary, and we give until our gas tank is running on fumes.

After running on fumes, and exhausting myself time and time again I finally learned what self-care means for me. I am still a work in progress, but I have started to recognized times throughout the year that I can take time for myself. As the holidays approach, you may find yourself needing just a few moments of rest as well. Check out a few steps to incorporating self-care into your routine!

First Step: Incorporate moments of self-care into your daily routine

When I started trying to incorporate self-care into my life I started with short daily activities or tasks. At the beginning, it is easy for you to take off more than you can chew and try to unplug for a week. But you will find success and confidence in finding something little that you can do every day. These little moments add up, and before you know it you will be feeling rejuvenated.

Here are a few examples of daily moments of self-care:

Dr. Betty Orr and Anne Duffy in Charlotte, North Carolina

  • A full night’ sleep (~8 hours)
  • A good cup of coffee or tea with a friend
  • A run or hour of tech free physical activity
  • Meditation (even 2-3 minutes)
  • Spiritual time (devotional, or prayer)
  • Bubble bath

Sit back and take a few minutes to think about what activities help unclog your mind, focus, feel rejuvenated, and empowered. Those activities can be your version of self-care! You may only do one of these, but quickly you might add 2-3 of these into your day. Soon you will notice that you feel calmer, centered, and present each day.

Second Step: Practice self-care on a monthly/quarterly basis

After you master a few mini-moments of self-care you can move on to weekends or regular monthly practices of self-care. These help you refill your tank. At first it might seem crazy to take a quarterly weekend trip or treat yourself to a spa day. But truly, you are important. It is important for you to be focused, present, and healthy! Cheers to making time for you!

Here are some examples:

  • Taking a Sabbath (a day of rest and relaxation for your soul)
  • Weekend away (perhaps this can be a weekend with family, a significant other, just yourself, or even your girlfriends!)Spa still-life with stacked of stone and burning candles
  • Spa day (I know this seems like a luxury, but taking a day to rewind, pamper yourself, and feel refreshed might just be what you need…)
  • Mental health day (Perhaps you need to schedule a mental health day on a Wednesday, send the kids to school or daycare, and take care of yourself. You don’t have to do errands or laundry, but you do have to take a moment for you!)
  • Phone Free Weekend

Third Step: Unwind/unplug for an extended period throughout the year

Lastly, how can you schedule a larger chunk of time where you refocus, tune into your body, and your life vision. Each year, Passion City Church in Atlanta take two Sabbath weeks where the staff and church members are encouraged to rest their soul. They don’t meet in church for 2 weeks, and then simply take some time to rest. For me, this was such a bold statement of their beliefs. You may not take two weeks of vacation, but here are a few ideas that I have used in the past to incorporate self-care for a longer period.

Here are some examples of yearly self-care:

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  • Tech-Free Month (Pick Instagram, Twitter, television, or Facebook (or any social media!) and take a month off! This means no checking, no scrolling, and no posts! You will feel so amazing!)
  • Retreats
  • Reflection Vacations (tech free of course!)

I hope that you pick a few ways to incorporate self-care into your new year’s resolution. When you do, post on social media and tag @dewlifemag.

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