Learning to slow down

In “How To Survive The Winter” I talk about how I go into hibernation over the winter. I seem to be needing more sleep and heavier food to get me through the colder months. My body just asks me to slow down.

When your body and your mind disagree

But sometimes in life your mind and your body disagree. And that’s never a good thing. Unfortunately this is what I am going through right now so I thought I would share the experience as I am sure I am not the only one going through times like these. 

So my body has noticed that autumn has settled. And it is asking as usual for more sleep, more hearty food and generally more rest. My body wants me to sit on the sofa under a blanket, put a movie on and eat chocolate.     

My mind on the contrary has a number of goals to achieve within set deadlines. For example, my mind wants me to get up at 5am, write for the blog before I go to work, do a full day of work, exercise for between half an hour to an hour a day, cook healthy food and find some time to read something clever. My mind wants to lose weight and wants me to fast 2 days a week (I explain the benefits of fasting in details in how food impacts your mood using good mood food). 

And my body is cool with that during the summer months. In the summer 7 hours of sleep is plenty and so the rest can easily be fit in. Just not in the winter.

So what happens when your mind and your body disagree like that? Who do you think will win in the end?

Well. People do say that I am strong minded and determined but at the end of the day, my body always win. And how does it do it? It goes on strike; I get ill. This is the only way my body seem to be able to pass on a message. If I don’t respect it, it simply stops functioning at its best and will not do so until it feels like its message has been heard.   

And guess what? Since until a few weeks ago I was still up at 5:40am every day, working or exercising and powering through the day without acknowledging the change of season, my body went on strike. I caught one strong virus that floored me to my bed for a week. After that week I tried to go back to work after a week but my colleagues didn’t want my germs around so I packed my stuff and worked from home for a full week. I decided I was better over the weekend at the end of week 2 – I wasn’t but I was tired of being ill – and so I sent back to my busy schedule only to crash the next day feeling full on depressed and having to cancel my evening plans. 

Week 3. I am back in the office. The virus was gone but I was still very tired. Towards the end of the week the temperature came back up so I finished the week working from home. By the end of the week my back was full of knots and I had to finish early to go and get a massage as I was in actual pain.  

Understanding to the message

So I had a good 3 weeks to consider the message my body had decided to send me. I am grateful that my body had kindly chosen a time that was just a little bit inconvenient. It usually goes for the most inconvenient time. Not this time. So I am truly grateful for that, especially as it could have chosen to wait a few weeks.

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Let me explained. I am going to Bali in a couple of weeks. I am attending the Master Leadership Programme of Ed J C Smith (more on that in how to fight depression using coaching techniques) and I am going to need all of my energy for that.   

So what was the message?

Well the message seemed to be clearly that I was doing too much and needed to slow down. But was it that simple?   

Once again when I have difficulties understanding what is going on in life generally I call my hypnotherapist to the rescue.

She explained to me something that made perfect sense to me. It made so much sense that I wonder how I hadn’t thought of it on my own. She compared looking after your energy in the same way than you look after your finances. She reminded me that I know how much money is coming in and how much is going out every month, what are my monthly expenses and what I have to play with; and then she told me that energy works just the same way. We have a finite quantity of energy that we can spend. Once it is gone we need to recharge. The good news is that what we do with our time will impact our level of energy. Some activities take our energy, other give us some.    

One well known way to improve your finances is to diarise for a short period of time everything you spend so that you can see more clearly where you spend money and where you could easily save by changing your habits. And so she recommended that I do the same with my energy so that I can see where it goes and become more aware of where I spend energy.  But equally it is also about paying attention to what gives me energy so that I know where I can get more energy from if I need it. The intention is of course that I can review the current status and decide whether I want to make any changes.      

So in the end the real message wasn’t so much that I needed to slow down but more that I needed to be more careful how I spend my energy and become aware of how to get more. 

Resolving the conflict

Now that I have understood this, I feel much better. Because this is a concept that I can my mind can comprehend and work with. It is not so much about going to total hibernation and wait patiently for spring. It is about accepting the fact that I have less energy during the colder months and that I should be more careful on how I spend it. 

So I am intending to make a few adjustments but I no longer feel frustrated that I am not able to do everything I want to do. Because if I learn how to master my energy, I can do anything I want to do. 


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