Have you ever felt that there is no time for you to slow down to take care of yourself? Maybe you’ve been burning the candle at both ends working really hard. You might even be enjoying what you are doing, and you are on a dopamine high because your SEEKING circuit is having a blast. Yet you recognize you’ve overcommitted your time and your energy as well. Sometimes you might even start to lose a sense of your own personal identity. You become a human doing instead of a human being. Many times, when we get that depleted, that stretched, then our moods start to roller-coaster and we find it’s difficult to stay on top of our moods and emotions.
Let me tell you a story. It was a few years back, my youngest son was about nine years old, and he had sensory processing difficulties. I didn’t know a lot about it, but I was learning a lot. At that time, I needed to slow everything down to focus on my child, and to create resources for him. There weren’t many locally where I lived in the country. I got online and I started researching and looking for new possibilities.
I became really passionate about being able to learn some new methods for healing and supporting a nervous system to regulate and self-soothe, that I got caught up in developing myself. Reinventing myself.
I spent hours, I did a lot of different courses and became an advanced practitioner for Integrated Listening Systems so that I could begin to provide these resources, not only for my son, I found it really helped me too.
But during that period of time when I was seeking so desperately to find resources and to make a difference, especially for my child, I got pretty burnt out. I got depleted and would go through different emotional waves feeling helpless and hopeless. Needing to create support, to find support.
Through that journey I met this one physician, that offered peer supervision, and he gave me some of the best words of wisdom. I was doing a case study on a child and wanted to make sure I was getting it right and paying attention to the details. One of the things he said was, “It’s not about finishing the program, it’s what does that nervous system need for nurturance.” I know I’d heard that before, yet that day I heard that at a whole new level of understanding.
Regardless of whatever we are doing and what we are about, wanting things to be better and improved, it’s important to slow down and be right where we are. To be able to tune into our system. Our body is a system, a complex system. When we are offering healing or holding that sacred space for other systems, we need to tune in to see what that system is needing, and then to meet it right where it is at. Until we can slow down and be where we are, we don’t have the ability to grow or change.
One of the things that I started doing, was I listened to the sound system myself and started tracking what it was like to be me and how was it supporting me. I took time to go out and be in nature, and I loved getting to develop a mindfulness practice. I started looking for the ways that my system is nurtured.
One of the most powerful things that I’ve been able to do, is to keep a gratitude journal. To take the time to notice in my day what I’m grateful for, to write it out and then draw a little picture at the end as a celebration.
We’re also not meant to be in isolation. We do need to have fellow travelers on our journey. What really supports me is to surround myself with a spiritual community that practices compassion. That has been a wonderful resource for me.
So, how about you? Do you have places or times in your life that you feel that you cannot slow down to take care of yourself? Wouldn’t you like to be able to experience that it’s possible to take an interest in and take time to engage in activities that you enjoy, and get to do that consistently? What do you imagine that might look like for you?