Slow Down, sister!
I grabbed my second cup of coffee for the day. It was around 12:15 pm on a Monday, and I was already exhausted from the demands of the day. As I fixed my coffee, my dear friend and I had a heart-to-heart about how overwhelmed and exhausted we both felt. We continued to share that even our weekend was crazy busy, and we had no time to rest.
“Why does it feel like we never have time to relax and do the things we love?” I complained. She looked me in the eye and said, “Because relaxing and doing all those fun things are options. They are not required.” Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I thought the same way about rest, relaxation, and doing activities that bring me joy—I viewed them as options instead of as requirements. I deemed those activities unimportant or unnecessary and often erased them from my schedule.
This conversation plus a series of burnouts, falling asleep on guests, and being called a workaholic from the people I love caused me to think about the way I was living. I asked myself the tough question: Why have I not made myself a priority? I wondered if it was because I was too busy, because I felt guilty for taking a break, or because I didn’t see myself as worthy of that time. I realized all those reasons were true for me.
Are you the same way? Do you view activities that bring you joy or relaxation as unnecessary? Do you keep pushing rest to the back burner because of your busy life?
If so, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s chat about some of these mindsets.
“I have more important things to do, and rest is just not one of my priorities.”
We all have heard the flight attendant’s directions while suspended 38,000 feet in the air: If there’s a problem, put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. (Let’s be real—at this point during the flight, I’m listening attentively and wondering if we should all be taking notes in case there’s an actual emergency.) The flight attendants tell us these directions because if we run out of oxygen, we can’t possibly help save someone else.
Similarly, I know that an exhausted, burned-out Gabby cannot help anyone else. I need to first take care of myself by resting and filling my well before attempting to pour into others. In other words, I need to make sure I have enough oxygen so that I can help someone else. Realistically, how can I serve others when I am exhausted and miserable?
Just recently, I was reminded of how vulnerable I am to overworking and not giving my body and mind needed rest. It was a Friday night, and friends were coming over. We were excited and couldn’t wait for them to arrive. We had the coffee brewing and the snacks ready. The beginning of the night was great! We talked, we laughed, and we were all having a good time. Then suddenly I woke up to friends bidding me farewell and good night. I had no idea what had happened. I asked Drew, and he said I literally fell asleep in a chair while my house was full of guests and someone was sharing his story. I was BEYOND embarrassed and sad that I had missed out on spending time with the people I love.
The next day I called my mom and told her what had happened. In response to my story, she said, “Gab, you’re a workaholic.” Like most Italian mothers, she is honest, to the point, and pulls no punches. Her honesty made me realize that she was right. I am a workaholic.
Maybe my workaholic tendencies were passed down from my family. After all, they were my examples growing up. My family immigrated to the United States from Italy, and I watched them work tirelessly for all they had. Or maybe it came from watching my parents work nonstop, especially my dad, who would get so caught up in his work that he would forget to eat.
I realized that my busy days turned into busy weeks that turned into busy months, and then busy years. I got so caught up in tasks, to-do lists, projects, work, and just the busyness of life that I rarely stopped to enjoy life, refresh, and recharge. I wasn’t happy. I was exhausted, resentful, and had nothing left to pour into others.
Are you also running on empty because you think rest and enjoyment are not important priorities? If we continue in this mindset, we will not be able to live our best lives. We need to change the way we view rest and relaxation. They are not options, but requirements, if we want to live full lives and be able to better love and serve those around us!
“I can’t rest because I feel guilty”
How many of you have felt guilty for making time to take care of yourself?
I can raise my hand high for that one.
Do you ever feel guilty for resting or for just doing something for the sake of enjoyment? I do. I feel so guilty when I’m not working or being productive. A few common scenes of my life include grabbing a cup of tea and a book to read, preparing a bath and putting some relaxing music on, or going for a beautiful walk with the pups—all the while, my brain is racing in each of these scenes, thinking about all of the things I “need” to do or “should” be doing instead of enjoying these moments. I can’t stop my mind from thinking thoughts like I could be cleaning my house right now or I could be working on something for my business. The to-do list never ends. Before I know it, this deep feeling of guilt creeps in like a snake on my rest time, and I suddenly want to stop relaxing and return to the busyness of life. This is a vicious cycle for me: I try to relax. I think, then think some more, feel guilty, stop relaxing, and then go back to work.
I have to purposefully settle my brain down and try to declutter it from running a mile a minute in all directions. I need to end this ridiculous cycle of guilt whenever I try to slow down to take care of myself. I am not the last priority on my list, and, like you, I am worthy of rest and relaxation.
In an effort to resolve this problem, I have set a nonnegotiable this year: I will not work on Saturday nights and Sundays. I will work very hard Monday through Saturday afternoon (to around 3:30 pm) so that from Saturday night until Monday morning I can relax and pursue the things that bring me joy. I can do this without feeling guilty because I remind myself that I have worked my max amount during the week and that this is MY time now.
I also refuse to allow myself to feel guilty for playing or relaxing hard during that time because I have worked very hard the rest of the week and my body, mind, and spirit need the rest. When the guilty feelings and busy thoughts creep up (and believe me they do), I replace those thoughts with the truth that I am worthy of this time.
“I can’t rest because I don’t have time”
Are you leaving blank space in your calendar? Or is your schedule jam-packed?
I know I never did, and I have realized that if I don’t purpose the time to rest, then I never will. It’s just not who I am.
I was listening to a business podcast recently, and on the show, a successful entrepreneur shared that when she plans her calendar for the year, the first thing she does is schedule her vacation and downtime. She explained that she knows that if she does not block out these times first, she will never take a vacation or a purposeful rest period. “Something will always, always come up that will try to prevent us from taking a much-needed break,” she said. I wholeheartedly agree.
I don’t want my life to be marked with constant busyness, stress, and burnout; so I took her advice. I literally scheduled time for rest and relaxation, because I know that if it is not scheduled, I won’t do it. Along with scheduling vacation and rest time, I have implemented the practice of regular Sabbaths into our lives. This is time where we intentionally rest, do the things we enjoy, and worship our God. Our family goal is to start a Sabbath routine like this: one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year. Hallelujah! Wish us luck!
No more burnout!
Every day is a gift, and, for the most part, we get to choose how we spend our days. I don’t want my life to be defined by endless to-do lists and burnout. That is no life at all! Why not make time to smell the roses and enjoy life? Why not take time to rest and recharge? I need to make sure that I’m taking preventative measures before I get to the point of burnout. I am learning my limits and what to say yes to and what to say no to. I am trying to prioritize rest and leave room in my schedule to do things that refresh me and bring me joy. I’m reminding myself that I am worthy of rest and that I can’t help others when I don’t prioritize taking care of myself.
So slow down, sister! Let’s take a step back, a deep breath, and pursue time for relaxation and doing the things that bring us joy.
What practices have you implemented to help you rest and recharge? Let me know in the comments.
These books helped me to see why it is important to rest and take preventative measures before getting to the point of burnout: