This past New Years’ Eve I had to wear glasses during the game night we held at our house. I’m not fond of wearing glasses, but I had a sense that something was wrong, and I was hoping to avoid an eye-infection. I would be traveling to Missouri the following week for a retreat with several women I had never met before, and I wanted to look my best. A couple days later, though, things weren’t getting any better, and the morning of the retreat I was sitting in the doctor’s office, being told that not only would I be wearing glasses for the weekend, I would also not be wearing any makeup. Awesome.
I could write a whole diatribe about how I experienced that weekend, and the importance of facing the awkwardness of being seen without our “masks,” but this isn’t about that. It’s more about what happened next.
Most eye infections resolve within three weeks, but it was two months before my eyes would tolerate contacts again, and even still – 5 months later – they get irritated really quickly. And then, about three weeks ago, I developed a weird looking patch on my arm, followed by what has now become an unsightly rash on my body from the back of my neck all the way down to my legs. Fearing the worst (measles! ringworm! chickenpox!) I was able to get in to the doctor, who calmly informed me that I have some sort of internal virus I had never heard of that installs itself in one’s body during the early years of life, only to emerge later. It’s not contagious, but it itches like heck and will take the next couple of months to resolve.
A friend lovingly suggested that perhaps stress has had something to do with all of my recent health woes. And though I hate to admit it, I’m realizing she’s right. It turns out our bodies can actually do a pretty good job of telling us we’re out of balance, if we’re only willing to listen.
Here are three things I’m learning to watch out for:
SIGN #1: YOUR BODY IS REBELLING
If you, like me, are finding you don’t bounce back from sickness like before, or especially if you’re experiencing unusual types of sickness, this can be a sign that you need to slow down. While it may seem hard to do (I certainly get it!), most of us have more influence over our schedule than we think. Taking time to intentionally rest our bodies, get outside, and eat well can help reset things in a positive way.
SIGN #2: YOUR BRAIN NEEDS A BREAK
Do you ever feel like if you try to jam one more piece of information into your brain something else is going to spill out? The truth is that we have only so much capacity for information, emotion, and sustained production. If you sense you need a brain-break, take one. I’m actually taking one right now by writing this blog post instead of checking off other, less creative tasks on my list. Think about what will give you a chance to exercise some other part of your brain, even it means just sitting doing nothing on the couch. As long as you don’t curl up and stay there forever…
SIGN #3: YOU NEED A BEAUTY REBOOT
I’m not talking about physical beauty here, but the idea of being able to SEE beauty in the world around you. When we work too hard, we miss the little gems in life. If you can’t think of something you’re grateful for, or find beauty in the simplicity of a child’s smile, a refreshing breeze or some other intangible, unproductive element of life, it’s time to downshift.
Let’s take a collective chill-pill…
As I write these things, I recognize that I’m pretty good with dispensing of helpful advice, and less good with actually taking it. Especially if doing so might compromise in some way what I perceive to be my productivity, and thus, my value. But I’m also getting old enough to recognize that running like a crazy person can strip me of my health, well-being, and especially my JOY. And I’m less willing to risk losing all that these days.
And so, from one Type A to another – and everyone in-between – I vote that we take a collective chill-pill, give our bodies (and brains) the break they need, and trust that God loves us even if (and often especially if) we allow him to carry more of the burden of life than we try to carry ourselves. That’s what this girl is doing…
“Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame…”
Romans 12:11a – MSG