It was a day I’ll never forget. Eden was only a few months old. Zoë had just turned two. I was having a friend over for breakfast, and we were enjoying some really sweet conversation together.
Suddenly it felt like the room was swimming around me. I found I could no longer focus on what my friend was saying, but I could hear her concerned, ‘Are you alright?’ – in the distance, followed by a weird floating feeling as she guided me over to the sofa to lie down.
‘I can’t move,’ I remember muttering. Being an experienced nurse, she calmly took charge of the situation, asked all the right medical questions, phoned the doctor’s surgery, and got an emergency appointment.
I was so grateful she was there with me and the girls that morning. She was God’s angel to me in that moment.
When I eventually got to the doctor, I remember her diagnosis clear as day. ‘This is pure exhaustion. Your body is saying stop. Bed for you.’
For the next week, that’s what I did. Lay in bed. Bill brought Eden up so I could feed her, then took her down again and I slept. I felt like no sleep would ever be enough.
Two weeks on, I remember still struggling to lift my limbs to get up off the sofa and crying fearful tears, ‘Have I pushed myself too far? Will this be permanent? Is this chronic fatigue?’
I did recover fully eventually, thankfully, but I learned a very important lesson that day. I learned I had limits.
That I wasn’t eighteen anymore.
That I wasn’t invincible.
That I couldn’t stay up with a baby feeding all night and then do all I did before I became a mother, with two young children in tow. And here’s the biggest part- that was ok!
My body needed nourishment. My mind needed rest. And I needed to learn self care.
And it’s still baby steps, to be honest.
I have such a woeful habit of packing activity into my week like a tin jammed with sardines.
All of us have an individual energy tank we draw from for work, looking after family, socialising, you name it. And when it’s empty, it’s empty.
If you feel like you’re at your limit, or you’re running on empty, but you don’t know how to set limits, try these five questions to help gauge where you are at!
1. Is my mind continually racing with what I have to do each day?
If so, I may be trying to achieve too much in a short space of time.
2. Is what I’m trying to do on a regular basis outside of my ability to achieve (in time, skills, energy or resources)?
If the answer is yes, you may need to pass some things on or shoulder responsibility along with someone else.
4. Do I always wake up tired?
If you never feel truly rested even after a night’s sleep, then you may need to slow your pace of life down before your body does it for you!
5. Have I begun to resent it when people ask things of me?
If you find yourself cross when someone asks you to do something for them then you may not have good boundaries in place. Time to say a polite ‘No’ to some requests so you can say a wholehearted ‘Yes’ to the right things!
I’m encouraged today that even though I still have a tendency to take on too much, I’m still taking baby steps to establishing good self care. Baby steps are still steps. And it’s the same for you.
It’s never too late to start! And it’s never too late to take another positive step towards a happier, healthier life.
How do you do self care well and where could you improve? I’d love to learn from you.