Common Cold or Life Lesson? – By Christine Callahan-Oke

I haven’t been myself lately. Something happened several weeks ago, I’m not even sure when: I let busyness take the place of joy. My energy has been low. I haven’t felt my usual “spark.” I haven’t taken time for fun and simple pleasures, or for just breathing and noticing all the beauty around me.

And that’s not like me at all.

Then a few days ago I realized I’ve been sick at least three times in the last three months. In April I had the flu, in May a cold, and now another cold. Plus I’ve had a cough for several months.

Although a cold in itself is no big deal, when I realized that I was sick again(or still), it finally hit me – there is a serious lesson here. One that I clearly hadn’t been paying attention to.

I need to take care of myself.  To stop making everything (and everyone) else more important.

Sounds so simple, I know. But really, if I hadn’t been sick a third time, I wouldn’t have gotten the message.  Instead, I would have gotten through the cold and then continued to overextend myself as I have in the past. And I would have gotten further off purpose.

But now I’ve heard the message, loud and clear.

Here are important ways I need to take care of myself – maybe some of these apply to you too:

Find the balance between yes and no – if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. I’m usually pretty good at following this one. But then there’s another part, one which I’m still working at: if someone asks for help and I get a slight sinking feeling because I have a lot on my plate at that time, don’t jump in with an enthusiastic “of course!”… simply say no as kindly as possible.

Continue to set boundaries and honour them.  A few months ago I set the intention to start my work day at around 11:30 a.m. to give me a couple of hours in the morning to write or do other activities that feed my soul. But lately I’ve been spending that time fulfilling obligations and getting tasks done. I notice a huge drain in my energy and a downward change in my mindset when I don’t give myself that personal time. So now I am recommitting to taking time for myself in the mornings.

Unplug and play – turn off the computer and relax. Go for a walk. Be silly. Watch a movie.  Dance around the living room with my boys. Step outside and look at the stars. The other night I had a couple of hours not spoken for, so I immediately grabbed my computer and was going to do something productive. Then I realized I wanted and needed downtime. So I shut down my computer, watched a movie and hung out with my husband. It was wonderful.

Feed my body – I eat fairly well but haven’t been giving myself all the stuff that my body needs to feel great: extra rest, immune-boosting nutrients, lots of movement, fun. It’s time to hit the reset button and get back on track.

Feed my soul.  Make space for quiet time. Slow down and listen to my inner wisdom. Get out in nature. Read things that inspire me. Listen to music. Connect with friends.

I’m so grateful for this lesson – I needed it.  I needed to find my balance again.

Now, fast forward to a couple of days ago…

I had a 2-hour drive home after a long meeting. Instead of focusing on the masses of traffic, I took the opportunity to crank the tunes, sing my heart out and look in amazement at the sun shooting out from behind the clouds at dusk. I felt like me again.  And it was awesome.

Do you find you get caught up in taking care of others and not yourself?  (How) do you bring yourself back into balance?  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Oh, and stop by for a visit at The Brighter Side of Life!