I think (I hope!) I’ve just gotten through a pretty stressful patch. It began over the summer. My husband traveled out of the country for a week and a half, then we went on vacation, then we had houseguests, then my husband traveled out of the country again for another week and a half, then we had houseguests again, then my younger son started kindergarten, then he transferred schools, then he had a fever followed by an ear infection that made him stay home from school for a week, and then he got an ear infection in the other ear. And of course at the same time I was doing all my usual mom stuff, plus family stuff, plus trying to teach yoga and run the studio at the same time.
Does this sound like your life too? Sometimes it’s so difficult being an adult.
What I learned from this prolonged ordeal is that during times of stress, we either break down or we toughen up. Toughening up is positive in the sense that it helps you get things done. But in this case I realized that toughening up over and over and over is not necessarily healthy.
If we look at it from a science perspective, during times of stress our bodies produce adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone that triggers the fight or flight response, which is meant to help us in a true emergency situation, not for day to day functioning.
If we look at it from a practical perspective, well, if we look at it from my own experience over the past few months, what I realized is that as I toughened up over and over, I stopped feeling my body and my feelings. Without realizing it, I became hardened.
I was overly focused and determined to get everything done, on being everything to everybody, to the point where I was not aware of my own body and my own needs. This is a pretty big deal, and actually kind of embarrassing, for a yoga teacher, who should know better, to lose sense of her own body.
I realized all of this one day in early September when I finally made time for a yoga class. At the beginning of class the teacher asked how I was feeling, and I said I was fine. I really believed I was fine.
Then the practice started and I began to breathe and move, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t fine. Every movement hurt. Every pose was difficult. At one point, in child’s pose, tears rolled down my face and onto my mat. It was just all the built up stress coming out, it was my tough self realizing I needed to soften.
It was a sign that I needed to make a change, which I’ve since been trying to do. I’m trying to figure out how to do less. I might be an expert at finding ease in my practice, but apparently I need to work on finding some ease in my life.
And of course, it’s hard work. It’s hard to find ease when you’re a working mom, or when you’re a caretaker, or when you’re a single parent, or when you’re focused on doing a good job at whatever you’ve got going on in your life. No matter the circumstance, we all sometimes have trouble slowing down and taking care of ourselves.
But geez, it’s important. We only get one body in this life and we have to take care of it. We have to get good sleep, we have to eat well, we have to drink water, and brush our teeth, and get checkups, and manage our stress. Because we just have the one body to help us carry out our life’s work, and the body needs to last. And of course it’s a bonus if the body lasts a long time and doesn’t give you too much trouble along the way, right?
Do you see yourself in my story of busy-ness? Are you in a pattern of toughening up over and over? Are you taking good enough care of you?
Take some time to pay attention to how you’re feeling and make a conscious decision about what to do next. It doesn’t have to be a grand and complicated change (that will only end up causing you stress). Just a little bit of something to put you on a healthier path. Baby steps. One step at a time.
I’d love to hear from you on this. What’s the one little thing you’re going to do to find some ease in your life?
P.S. I joined the 40 Day Challenge to help hold myself accountable to my self-care. It’s not too late to join! Here’s a link to the details. Let me know if you want in.