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When My Body Signals Me for Attention

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As many of you know and experience yourself, feeling fatigued can put a damper on your whole day. There are days I wake up filled with energy and practically bounce out of bed, excited to get started on my business and work with clients. And there are other days where it feels like I have cement between my eyelids.

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome eight years ago, I could barely get out bed.

Over time I was able to make lifestyle changes and adjustments to lessen my pain. I eventually found a career and style of business that supported my passion for helping people and allowed me to stay home in yoga pants and slippers.

While spending nearly no time driving or dealing with the stress of talking to hundreds of people a day in an office helps with my fatigue and supports my introverted personality, I find that I can still wake up exhausted when I give out too much of my mental and emotional energy and don’t allow myself time to recover.

My sign that I’m pushing myself too hard is when I don’t want to go to work in the morning, and my first thought is feeling overwhelmed about “everything I want to get done.”

Being overwhelmed triggers my fatigue and pain. The second I feel like there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it, I start feeling bad that I need different boundaries around self-care than other people. Sometimes I can get caught up in comparing myself to what everyone else is doing and get stuck in a loop where we feel worse and worse about myself.

I used to react by spiraling through all the reasons why I felt bad about my boundaries not being like everyone else’s, but now I do my best to react a different way. It’s simple, really. I tell my body “thank you” for pointing out to me that I’m pushing myself too hard and I’ve gotten out of balance. I’m actually grateful that it can get my attention because then I am able to make small shifts in my day, work load and commitments to give myself permission to truly rest and relax.

For me that looks like cancelling or rescheduling some social engagements that I can push off. It looks like clearing my calendar so I can physically sit or lay down for a big chunk of time, maybe playing video games or watching a funny show (laughter is incredibly healing).

It also looks like leaning out my work load and getting more organized so I don’t overschedule myself.

We all have different limitations and various commitments, but there’s always some that can be pushed back, delegated or eliminated entirely. But there’s something about having a super long to-do list and then crossing it all off that we love.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the satisfaction of making a list and then completely a task. But sometimes I think our lists are too long. When your body signals that it needs some attention, we can feel guilty about taking that time or making that shift because the list isn’t crossed off.

I have learned throughout many years and hard lessons with chronic pain and fatigue that giving myself permission to feel, however I feel, and not apologize for needing “me time” is hands down one of the best things I can do for my health, happiness and peace.

Whenever that overwhelm kicks in, I know I’ve gone too far in filling up my plate and I need to remove, readjust or reassign things in my life. Whatever your sign may be, my hope would be that you can not only stay connected and aware of it but know exactly what your body is asking for instead.

That awareness is so powerful in helping us take care of ourselves and relieving pain. Keep on going my friend!

Getty Image by bukethun

Originally published: June 8, 2018
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