Time to stop

How illness is our body’s way of telling us it’s okay to take a break

How hard do you work? We all dream of having endless days relaxing, spending time in the sun doing absolutely nothing, but when it really comes down to it, how often do we actually give ourselves permission to stop working?

I can only speak for myself, but to be honest, I can be a bit of a slave driver. I set huge goals for myself that I hope will have positive impacts of many people, so letting go of those goals feels like I’m letting others down as well as myself… so I don’t do it.

Instead of noticing I’m exhausted and realising it’s time to stop, I seem to ramp up my work, wanting to get even more ‘important’ things done.

But here’s the thing… life isn’t only the on button. It’s not a graph reaching endlessly higher, impressively showing none stop increased production. It’s more organic than that. It’s more like the waves in the ocean coming in full of energy, and then going out empty. We see it in nature all the time with seasons of growth followed by seasons of rest. And that’s the rhythm of our lives too, except we tend to ignore the need for rest and just keep on working despite the voice inside that says “please stop for a minute”.

And this, of course, is when the body steps in. Logically we think we know what’s best… and what’s best is to keep working (right?). But at some point our body decides it’s time to step in and override your decision. And this is when we get sick.

We know it too, don’t we? Getting sick is our body’s way of telling us to stop. But what happens then? Well for a lot of us, when we get sick we are then riddled with guilt at not being able to complete all of that ‘important’ work. We lie in bed feeling terrible because we’re ill, and even more terrible because we feel like we’re letting the world down.

If you’ve ever had that thought… stop it! That guilt is not welcome here!

I think of it like this… Your body is telling you to take a break, a real break. We try so hard to look after everyone else and sometimes we forget to look after ourselves.

Getting sick is then actually the very best time to turn that around. Think about it… It’s like the ultimate permission to take time off. You’ve got the most valid reason ever not to work, so why not take the days when you feel ill and use them to indulge yourself? You might not be well enough to hang out on a beach all day, but you can indulge yourself in other ways.

Make a cosy nest on the sofa or in the sunshine. Snuggle up with a blanket and a heat pack. Have a cup of tea and really saviour the moment of relaxation. Read a book or do whatever it is your body is yearning for. This is serious you-time! Take care of you, so that when you’re over the illness, you can launch back out into the world with a brain, a body and a heart that has had the rest it needs, and is ready for the next challenge!

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