“Manu you have to STOP!”.
I heard this so many times in my life…from my parents, from my friends, from my colleagues, from my physio-therapists…etc.
I’ve always been an “action” woman, I always enjoyed organising events, going out, practicing sport and building a successful career. Being active has always been part of me whereas contemplation, relaxation, meditation was, in my eyes, a total waste of time. Why would anyone sit there, doing nothing while there is so much to see, so much to do, so much to learn, so many interesting people to meet and cultures to discover?
More recently, I have experienced very painful back pain, which, ultimately, turned into 2 bulged discs, sciatica and scoliosis…not pretty. At this point I did stop: I stopped going to the office and started working from home; As the pain was increasing, I stopped working…then, I moved back to France, back at my parent’s house…I was no longer working and finally getting a good rest…still, the back pain didn’t go away.
I started to question “Why am I not getting better now that I’m sleeping 8h a day and resting?”
It took me a while to realise that STOPPING didn’t only mean “resting your body”.
I have been a keen meditator for over 2 years now…still, meditation didn’t help releasing my pain despite practicing it daily.
Because my mind was still far too active.
Yes, I left my job and the busy London lifestyle, I thought I was free of distraction, which would enable me to recover and develop my business. Well, ideas were flowing but I felt restless and my to-do list was growing day by day, along with the pressure of achieving, getting things done, as quickly as possible.
I felt very uncomfortable and guilty when I wasn’t working hard enough on my personal project.
I’ve always been someone who takes actions and constantly moves forward, and, most of my life, it served me well!
This time, I needed something different; my soul was desperately seeking physical and emotional rest, I just wasn’t listening enough.
But what is emotional rest?
It is simple:
Letting go of the to-do list
Letting go of action plan and agenda
Letting go of thoughts and worry
Letting go of past experiences and the uncertainty of the future
It is being present and living life day by day, based on feelings and emotions and checking in every single day:
This is what I realised… a bit too late.
When I started this process, my back started to move again, flexibility was coming back, I was feeling calmer and generally happier and relieved. Since then, I can say I’m 90% recovered (after just a few weeks of practice).
But, how do you “let go” when you have work to do, a house to run, kids to look after and a to do list that never ceased to grow, no matter what?
Well, this is a very good question; it certainly comes with a strong sense of awareness and a decision to act, while we are still functioning (I hope that’s you!).
The key is to start talking time for yourself (5mins, 10mins, 15mins…or more if you can) to STOP. The best thing to do is to practice deep breathing techniques and/or practice meditation; this is only 15mins a day but that can save you from physical pain, emotional overwhelmed and ultimately prevent the burnout.
Unfortunately, most of us wait for the body to show us that, you’ve pushed too far: One day, you cannot get out of bed, your body doesn’t carry you any longer; potentially, you wake up and all you feel like doing is burry all your worry and tiredness under the duvet and stay there, for a few days…months.
I have been back to France for 3 months now, I was so excited to reconnect with “old” friends (mostly girlfriends) and, with every single conversation I had with them, the word “burnout” came up (it either happened, was happening or was about to happen). The torment that they were experiencing and sharing with me just shocked me.
So, before any of you get to that stage, I feel it’s my duty to warn you: please, please, please, be proactive, and take those 15mins a day to regroup, be with yourself, connect with your body, breathe and LET GO! Letting go of worry, just for a few minutes a day and feeling grateful for everything that you already have might just be your salvation.
Our bodies and minds are very strong but they, too, have their limits.