The Exhaustion Is Real
I took the above photo after an 8-hour day on Zoom. I can't NOT take pictures of my animals and I also stayed in this position for a good half hour. And I might have also been counting down the hours until bedtime. (Yes, I have a bed time. It's 8:30PM. Which is earlier than my bed time when I was 8 years old.)
My therapist pointed out last month that the running theme in our sessions was me feeling super exhausted all the time. From May through the end of September I did not work out. At all. And I felt so guilty about it. But I also felt a tremendous amount of dread about the act of it. The truth is that after 4-5 hours of Zoom in the morning and then after lunch I would just fall asleep. For, like, two hours. And still be tired enough to get myself to bed before or on time.
Lack of sleep was obviously not my problem here. 2020 was. And, let's face it, the past few years as well.
You know how some people, after a really stressful event get the flu or a cold or a cold sore or have other weird physical stuff happen? Well, I'd never considered that for me, sleep has been the way I've helped manage my stress. My body needs to just shut down and turn off. Does this resonate with anyone?
So let's get back to the not exercising part. I've already said my/our bodies react to stressful events by feeling things like exhaustion but sometimes we experience other negative physical sensations (like dread) to things we think we "have" to do. That negative physical sensation? It's a gift our body is giving us to tell us we need to recover from something. Trauma. Non-stop pivoting. The political climate. Schitt's Creek being over.
For me the thing I felt I "had" to do was work out. It seemed WAY too hard a task to accomplish this summer, though. At least, the way I'd been working out pre-Covid. So I wallowed in this cycle for quite a while until my motivation meter crept back to a place where I felt I was ready to do something. And over the last 10 weeks, I have been slowly working my way back to what I was doing in the "old days". And it feels GOOD.
Exercise IS medicine. Even when we feel in our bones that we just can't do it. The key is finding the *right kind* of exercise at the *right intensity*. Can you do a 20-minute walk outside? Awesome! Can you stretch for 5 minutes? Your body will thank you. Can you only lay there at the top of your stairs with your animals at your side? Practice being kind to yourself and be OK with it. You'll feel different eventually.
If you've fallen out of your regular routine lately and can't seem to get your groove back: Be kind to yourself. Your groove might just need to look a little bit different right now.
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