The Importance of Slowing Down in a Culture that Prides Busyness

It's no secret that the weight of the world feels heavier than usual.


While building my business as a wellness coach, I have also continued working full time as a school nurse. The combination of the two roles has made for a beautiful, magical, and incredibly challenging parallel. Especially as we, in the midwest, are faced with a significant COVID re-surge.


I spend my days giving. And giving, and giving, and giving. And that's OKAY with me. Because I love giving.


But for a moment I got lost in the storm, and it became hard to catch my breath.


In talking with many of my clients recently, I'm both grateful and saddened to have company in this suffocating feeling.


After a long day of quarantining children, reassuring families and staff members, and creating the best of resources and support for my clients, I was scheduled for a yoga power class.


Normally, this is my serenity. My sanity. My safe haven. I had gotten home late from work, as my responsibilities crept far past my designated hours. I was in a rush - one hand pulling my leggings over my calves, the other hand responding to a COVID positive email. I said a hi to my husband, a bye to my cats, and off I went to make my yoga class knowing I would have only mere moments to spare to get settled on my mat.


I was half way to the studio, when I felt a pull. I felt a pull to stop. To turn around. My stomach ached, and I could feel the lack of nutrients I gave myself in the day. And for the first time, I had the opportunity to notice - I'm EXHAUSTED.


I turned my car around and cancelled my class.


I came home, I put on my sweater, and chose to go for a long walk.


The mid-November, day-gone-dark, bitter cold bit through my sweatshirt. But I said, no girl we are walking.


I felt the wind nick the skin on my bare neck allowing goosebumps to form. I heard my thoughts rush through my head in capacities far greater than I could keep up with. I noticed my heart beat a little faster and felt my lungs expand, inviting chilled air into their sacred space. I smelled the softness of the earth tones around me, and felt my aching foot (from REALLY outdated and poorly fitting work shoes) propelling me forward, one step at a time. I saw the glimmer of one of the clearest, most starry-eyed skies I'd seen in months and got lost in it's natural glow and simplicity.


Instead of giving, and giving, and giving, I took a second to take in.


To take in the world. To take in the space around me. More importantly, to take in my own self.


I thanked the skin on my neck for protecting me from the wear-and-tear of late fall evenings. I appreciated the thoughts that rustled, and explored their meaning. With every heart beat that quickened, and breath that expanded, I found gratitude for the silent work my body does without me ever even asking. I remembered, it gives, too. I reminisced on the memories that came with the scent of the crisp air above, and the soil that sunk below. I thanked my aching foot for voicing its concerns, and promised to buy it a new home this weekend. And I felt swallowed and small by the magnitude of the world around me - but in the VERY best way. The kind of way that makes you feel surrounded by, and comforted in, a true sense of belonging.


Why does any of this matter? And how does this apply to our health, wellness, and even chronic pain and illness?


Because although we have plenty of individual diagnosis' on board, we as a collective society, suffer from a disease we choose not to talk about or invest in curing - the disease of busyness. We believe we have to do more, rest less, and "power through". We work ourselves to the brim, forgetting to ever check in; rushing off to the next chore, responsibility, or yoga class until we find ourselves battling an illness or ailment that quite frankly, we don't have time for. And heck, even AFTER we are sick and struggling, we still feel burden and guilt for needing rest and time away from the daily grind.


This isn't new, and it's not uncommon by any stretch of the imagination - but it is wildly detrimental.


Slowing down isn't easy. It takes patience, self compassion, and a lot of inner work. It can bring up feelings of shame, doubt, guilt, or even anxiousness because we have normalized filling every pocket of our time.


So, what's one small step we can do TODAY, to begin again as a human being - ditching the lifestyle of human doing - that has left us hungry, hurting, EXHAUSTED, and more unhealthy in mind and body than ever before?


In order to adjust and shift what it is we need more of, and what it is we need less of, we first have to shed light on what is it we currently have and consume ours days with.


You probably already know your daily duties. You have a general idea of what encompasses your days. But do you know how each and every thing you digest affects you? How it makes you truly feel? How it is, or isn't, contributing to your overall health and well-being?

 

TAKE ONE SMALL STEP: Take note of what is energizing you and what is depleting you. Literally.... take note. With a pencil and paper (there's something magical and profound in the art of using real writing). At the end of each day, make two columns. Fill the first column with everything that energized you or made you feel excited, happy, purposeful, present, passionate, or rested. In the second, fill in everything that depleted you or made you feel tired, angry, irritated, moody, overwhelmed, sad, or worried/anxious.


This could be the food, hydration, activities, interactions, thoughts, etc. It can be anything in your day.


Do this for one full week and explore what comes up. Without judgment, without fear, without avoiding.


If you're interested in sharing, I'd love to hear what comes up for you. Feel free to reach out at coaching@bareroothealth.com.

 

Thank your body. Thank your mind. And know that you are worthy of long walks and slowing down.



Heather Brittain RN, MSN-PHN

IAWP Certified Holistic Wellness Coach (in training)

Owner and Founder of Bare Root Health | Wellness Coaching for Women

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