• Ariana Friedlander

Slowing down to speed up

It could be the allostatic load of living through a pandemic. It also might be the overwhelming responsibility of revamping multiple businesses so they're COVID proof. Or it's the uncertainty of planning for a school year that has more question marks than any exam I've ever taken.

Whatever it is, I'm feeling some major COVID fatigue lately. Literally, my body has felt depleted. These last 4 months I've needed more time and space to decompress than ever before in my life. 

My husband has joked a few times that I have to nap every weekend. It's true, I do. Even though I easily get 8 hours of sleep a night (adequate sleep is really important for brain function, mental health, your immune system and more), I often feel exhausted by the end of the week and need to replenish.

At a time when stress, worry and fear are running high, self-care is of the utmost importance. And yet, how often do people put that on the back burner? There's always so many other things to tend to, meals to cook, messes to clean, kids to wrangle, fires to put out, emails to send, projects to complete.

We might be living in a pandemic, but our to-do lists haven't gotten any shorter. 

If we wait until it's a good time to practice self-care it will never happen. And the need to prioritize self-care on a massive scale is more evident now than ever before. 

Parker Palmer once said:

"Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

Indeed, self-care is an essential practice for anyone that likes to be of service. Any leader that wants to support the growth and development of their team must model this behavior first and foremost. 

As the reality of this ongoing crisis continues to sink in, self-care is the protein that keeps our resiliency muscles toned. When we pause and invest in restoring our sense of wellbeing, we find that we have an inner strength to persevere that before was elusive. 

Tasks that feel impossible. Decisions that create trembling anxiety. Responsibilities that feel too weighty to bear. All become manageable when we refuel our inner reserves. 

No doubt this is a challenging time. I hear about it day-in and day-out. I've felt an unbearable heaviness myself these last few months. And as a culture, we have a tendency to push through the discomfort. To push ourselves to get the task done, even though every part of our being is screaming, stop, slow down, pause, breathe, reflect, nourish me. We push on to our detriment.

Ironically, we are more effective and efficient when we take the time to slow down and reinvigorate ourselves. Pushing on not only decreases our overall productivity, it diminishes the quality of our work while also negatively impacting our health.

So yeah, I take naps almost every weekend. Whenever I hit a wall, instead of pushing it to no avail, I remind myself to take a seat in the shade, drink some water and read a good book. I have any number of self-care strategies that I can pull out of my pocket at a moment's notice. 

One of my overarching go-to self-care strategies is journaling. I not only use journaling to decompress by processing my thoughts, and feelings. I also use journaling to set my intentions, to keep myself accountable, and to bring myself back into right relationship with myself. Because let's face it, while I might have well-established self-care habits, I can get sucked into pushing on when I should rest just like the rest of us. My journal helps me recognize those patterns in myself so I can proactively shift from soldiering on to self-care.

While I have felt more depleted these past few months because of what's going on in our world, I have also been incredibly productive, making great strides in my life both personally and professionally. That's all because I've taken the invitation to slow down and care for my well-being daily and in new ways. As a result, I've been able to accelerate my progress towards my goals. I'm slowing down to speed up.

What are some of your go-to strategies for reinvigorating yourself these days? 

Join me for the Journal Jam on Tuesday and rejuvenate your spirit -- it's a simple way to build your endurance for the marathon we are all running right now!

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