Since my recovery started, I expected that I'd get run down more easily. At least, for a month or two. But here I am, four months out in an almost constant state of overwhelm. I don’t want to have to hide inside to preserve my energy, I want to go outside and be engaged and vibrant with the world around me. It does leave me drained, though. So when I recharge, I take it very seriously. Here's how I do it.
I've noticed since my surgery, I've really valued my privacy and personal space. After two weeks of nurses and doctors coming as they please to poke and prick me, I feel very protective of my privacy and personal space. Overextending myself is the main way I exhaust myself, and carving out space for myself to recover is my first step.
Often, this means cancelling or rescheduling plans, hiding out at home for a day or two and communicating my feelings with my circle. Its crucial that I give myself as much space and alone time I may need until I've had a chance to recharge.
HONE MY ENVIRONMENT
It's crucial that my environment has good energy. I keep my home pretty clean, with clutter to a minimum so the eye has many peaceful places to rest. If my home isn't in tip-top shape, I take a few hours to catch up on my chores. That way, my home is more of a haven while I recover. Its all about surrounding yourself with beauty and positive energy to maximize the comfort in your own home, and to make it more enjoyable I'll usually pop on a podcast and diffuse an essential oil.
BE KIND TO MYSELF
If I'm really struggling through my day, I like to show myself compassion. I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, who on rough days advocates saying to yourself: "hey, I see you're struggling, and I don't want you to struggle. How can we make today a little easier? Lets do those things." Taking time to treat myself or just lower the amount of really taxing things I have coming up is wildly helpful. Is there a meeting coming up that's stressing you out? Push it a day or two, if you can, to give yourself a few more days to prepare. Did you tell yourself you'd finish all the laundry this weekend? Just do a load or two of your must-have garments to get you through the week. If you constantly push yourself to the point of failing, you're just attracting more failure into your life. If you let yourself succeed (even if it means lightening your load to do so, or lowering unrealistic expectations) then you're creating positive momentum that will manifest into more success and make you feel more capable to take on even greater things.
Life shouldn't feel impossible. If you're setting expectations of yourself that feel impossible, lighten your load. Don't be the person who's spreading yourself too thin, because the energy that you need to thrive in your life won't be there.
Being kind to myself also looks like the taking the space to seek pleasure. Got a candle you love? Burn it. Got a recipe you love? Make it. Book? Read it. Now's the time to treat yourself with things you love, because you need it. So if you've been saving something for a rainy day, giving yourself permission to indulge is such a wonderful thing to do for yourself.
These are three cornerstones in my self-care journey, but there are many more out there. Everyone has different struggles and different things that make life feel hard, but as a classic "people pleaser" I've found that the main thing I need to do when I'm feeling run-down is carve out more space for myself: In my relationships by re-establishing boundaries, in my home by cleaning and optimizing my environment and in my mind by silencing negative self-talk.