I am tired.
I am tired of reading the news, and talking about heavy things, and feeling sad and afraid and angry and frustrated and empowered and helpless.
I am tired of postponing plans and events, and not knowing when I can mark dates on the calendar. I am already tired of how long this pandemic has impacted life, and how long it will dog us in the days and months to come.
My heart is tired. My mind is tired. My spirit feels weary. I am beleaguered, and I notice many other people are, as well.
This is called fatigue. You probably are already acquainted with the many ways in which fatigue shows up: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion.
In this post, I do not mean to imply that these things that feel heavy aren’t important, or that they don’t bear contemplation, conversation and action. All of those things are important, and so necessary, as we move forward into our future.
When we are fatigued, we need to rest. It’s not weakness to require rest. We know that physiologically, sleep is when our bodies do most of our healing, growing and regenerating. It’s not the needing a break that leads to weakness, even though it might feel that way. It’s actually the other way around: over-training and inadequate rest leads to weakness, leaving us vulnerable to illness and injury, on the physical, mental/emotional and spiritual planes.
I know it is a privilege to take a weekend off of social media, or choose to turn off the news. I know that what is overwhelming my heart and my mind is everyday life for many people. I wish I could change that, and I am doing my best to be a part of that change, as are so many people right now.
We think, “How dare I need a rest when there is injustice in the world?”
You are one who is learning, and growing and changing, and just like when you were a growing child, you need rest to allow your body to incorporate what is changing.
Yes, we get stronger by doing the work, and lifting the weights. More reps, more weight, pushing the limits of what we could do yesterday. The heavy lifting is required, absolutely.
But even the most elite athletes take a rest day. They know the value of letting their muscles rest and repair. This allows the micro-damages of exertion to heal, and this, in turn, makes us stronger.
We cannot run on adrenaline forever: it’s not a sustainable fuel source. It costs a lot of time to replenish bursts of spent adrenaline.
If we are to win this race, we must realize that we are running a marathon, not a sprint. And to try to run a marathon at a sprinter’s pace will result in failure, if not injury.
We must honour where we are, even as we push forward to where we want to be, and who we want to become.
This means noticing if you are feeling exhausted, and granting yourself reprieve. Maybe take some time off from your devices, or the news, or social media. If you’re worried that you’ll miss something important, consider it’s pretty likely that someone will let you know.
It means eating good food and drinking lots of water. It means getting lots of sleep. Getting outside, in nature. Being with friends, even if it’s over video. Perhaps you need to ask for acknowledgment, or perhaps you need to give some out (both are amazingly regenerative). Maybe it means meditating, or deepening your breath, for just a few minutes each day. Perhaps you need to journal, or some other ways you create rest intentionally.
I don’t know precisely what you need right now, beyond the simple and general wisdom of how you might care for a child who is overwhelmed and overtired. I think that most of the time, the same wisdom holds true, regardless of how many candles are on our birthday cakes. Remember when we would blow out candles on a birthday cake, and then slice up that cake we just expirated all over and serve it to friends and family. Gross. Betcha none of us are gonna being blowing out birthday candles again for a long time.
If we don’t learn to rest while we march onward, I fear that we will stop short of our intended destination, and we cannot allow that to happen with the very many important things we are working to change in our world. When we are on a plane (remember those?), we are reminded that in an emergency, we need to put our oxygen mask on ourselves before we try to help anyone else. Because if we pass out, then we are not only of no use to anyone else, but we become an additional burden on the very ones we’re trying to help.
You may not think you deserve a break, but I’m positive that you need one anyway.
If you are tired, learn to take rest. You will grow stronger, and your endurance will improve, too.
We are needed in this quest. Rest well, so you may begin tomorrow with a strong body, strong mind, and resolved heart.