Sometimes you’re forced to slow down. Sometimes it’s necessary to retreat from the world — to stop completely. No appointments. No activities. No gym time. No cooking. No errands. Nothing..
I’ve had over a week of slow time suffering from a severe flu. I could whine and complain about the unfairness of such an illness as I’ve dutifully had a flu shot every year. Moreover, I already had a bout of the flu during the Christmas season.
Last Monday afternoon as I drove home from a meeting, fever, chills and aching muscles hit. I spent the evening in front of the gas fireplace trying to stay warm. The thermostat read 28 degrees Celsius yet my teeth chattered and my feet felt like icicles. After a restless night I awoke with the realization that this was more than a low energy day. I was sick.
I stayed in bed for several days growing more frustrated as time passed especially when I missed my grand daughter’s second birthday party on the weekend.
After coffee and a shower this morning, I dressed in a comfy track suit only to climb back into bed to snuggle under the duvet to write a post.
How/Why did this hit?
When I think about the past few weeks, I realize that I’ve been far too busy. Although sticking, for the most part, with my rule of no more than two commitments per day, the time around those commitments has been filled with other things that build stress. Preparations for annual tax filing, writing, bridge lessons and bridge games, along with a couple of late night events had a cumulative effect.
I’m annoyed that my brain wasn’t smart enough to recognize overload without having my body collapse. I’m well aware of how stress can weaken the immune system.
Did stress create a vulnerability to the viruses that thrive with the warm/cold temperature variability recently experienced in Ontario?
Slowing down without getting sick
As a child, my mother used to say, “If your brain isn’t smart enough to slow down once in a while, your body will do it for you!” Her admonitions came when I was ‘pushing the river’ and taking on more than I could handle even when in superwoman mode.
As I approach another decade birthday, I’m realizing that I don’t have the same capacity to push myself as I did in younger years. When my body sends the message to rest or slow down, I can’t ignore it.
It’s time to take stock (again) of how I spend my time. What commitments should I give up? What routine tasks can I pay someone to do? How do I incorporate rest into the daily/weekly schedule?
I’m not prepared to compromise on gym time or exercise. There’s an amount of house and yard work that needs to be done regardless of what gets hired out as I’m not in a position to afford a flotilla of servants.
My challenge is to slow down without neglecting social or family activities that I enjoy.
The change I can make for the next few months is to move from the ‘Rule of Two’ to a ‘Rule of One’ for at least four days of the week. For readers new to Postworksavvy, my ‘Rule of Two’ is that I will not undertake more than two activities outside of the house in one day. That means, for the days when I go to the gym, that I won’t add more than one appointment, or activity, or social event.
I started on my ‘Rule of Two’ mantra earlier this year when I was looking for easy time management strategies to carve out more time for writing and for hanging out with myself. After four months, I’ve had some success with the ‘Rule of Two’. It gives a structure to my calendar.
Using a ‘Rule of One’ in a similar way will mean careful thought before making any commitments.
Another small change I plan to make is scheduling bed time. I’ve always been a night owl with an uncanny ability to stay awake to finish projects. it was my secret strategy for meeting deadlines — a hangover from student days when late nights were used to cram for exams. But why keep crazy hours in retirement when there are no deadlines except for those I create myself?
i’m interested in hearing thoughts my readers have. What strategies have you used to slow down without bringing life to a stop?