How important is it to stop and see if you need time-out to re-charge your batteries? We are all human beings and even the fittest and most healthy of us will tire at some point. But most of us are just ordinary people trying to fit in extraordinary amounts of tasks, thoughts and conversations into an increasingly shorter 24 hour period.
By checking in with your body and mind on a regular basis you can become aware of when tiredness isn’t alleviated by a good night sleep. Checking in can be a mindful practice including a full body scan practice, however it doesn’t need to be a lengthy exercise and can be done in a minute or two. I have got into the habit now of doing this in 20 seconds two or three times a day to compare how I’m feeling throughout the day. Be careful not to allow your mind to use the overpowering burdens of your to do list to influence this, try to go beyond this and have all your attention on your physical body to see how it is feeling. The great thing is that no-one needs to know you’re even doing it!
Going back then, to that point where tiredness isn’t alleviated by a good night sleep – this is the point at which you would ideally do something about it. Maybe you could book a holiday, take a couple of days off to rest or an afternoon to sit in the garden with a good book; at the very least you could take a long soak in the bath or practice some meditation.
There are many things you can do to feel refreshed and revived, and most of them will involve not thinking about your to do list. So anything that takes your mind off this, even if it involves extensive thinking about something else, will give your mind a break. This is why meditation is so useful, especially if done on a regular basis. By having something else to think about (if you’re following a guided meditation) or by thinking of nothing at all (which yes, admittedly does take practice) your mind is given a rest from chasing the usual suspects in your to do list – and a mental rest is often just what most of us need!
There are times, however, when this is not enough and you really do need to physically rest your body. With regular observation of the body and how it’s feeling, you should be able to pick up when physical tiredness is becoming more than just noticeable. And here you really should be doing something to help yourself – the body needs to rest, it cannot keep going endlessly; it needs to repair itself, to re-build muscles and blood cells and clean the digestive system etc. All these things happen when you rest and if you don’t allow your body to look after itself it will start to go wrong – pain and illness will become issues and the longer you ignore this the more serious it could be.
The good news is you can prevent this (or even prevent things from getting worse if they’ve already started) by getting to know your body’s warning signs and doing (even little) things to help it. By knowing that your knee is more sore today than yesterday, which is more painful than the day before, you can make the decision that running every day is maybe not right for you and to take a day off. I don’t mean give up but a bit of a rest!
So look after yourself by starting to create a habit of checking in with your body regularly to see how it is genuinely feeling. You might need to set a reminder on your phone or make it part of your morning or evening bathroom routine but this simple practice might turn out to be one of the most important things you do all day.