It wasn’t long ago, I called a friend to help me out with a project. Like you do when you call a friend, you fully expect them to jump on board and run to your rescue. It wasn’t anything life changing or pressing but still, imagine my quandary when she said, “I’m taking the week off but I can help you next week.”
I was a little dumbfounded. I didn’t quite know how to respond. I read and re-read the text to make sure I got that right. Yep, taking the week off…to do what? Get a little rest.
I think about that exchange all the time now. It was such a foreign concept to me, that people, women especially, actually take care of themselves. It’s obviously not my forte in life, since I was quite certainly miffed and confused a the concept.
There is a fascinating book by Dr. Gabor Mate called, When the Body Says No. He has spent years studying the connection between a stress ridden life and disease. He found fascination in reading the obituaries of those who died young and noticed a common thread…”She worked tirelessly to serve those around her”. “She was perfect in every way.” “She was fiercely independent”
Could any of these statements be said about you? We wear them as a badge of honor. People aspire to be more like us. It’s in the overdoing, the over working, the over being, that we meet our match…disease. We scratch our head and wonder why. There is nothing redeeming about working ourselves into the ground.
As women, we need to learn to be a little more lazy. Like my friend, we need to be brave enough to set a boundary of what we can and can’t do, with our mental and physical reserves. She wasn’t mean or ugly about her ‘no’ and wasn’t followed up with some elaborate lie to explain her delay in helping, she simply spoke her truth.
I think the first thing we can do to become more lazy is to speak our truth. Be simple, clear and forthcoming. ‘No’, no matter what anyone thinks, can in fact, be a complete sentence. Let’s practice…
“Can you bring cupcakes to the kindergarten class party on Friday?”
What do we say….?
“No, I’m sorry, I can’t.”
“Hey, can you watch my kid for a few hours today?”
What do we say…?
Now of course, if your stress levels are manageable, your anxiety is under control and the request feels do- able, then by all means, commit. If a request catches you off guard, simply say, “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.”
We put so much pressure on ourselves and those around us to be perfect in every way. Life ebbs and flows and some seasons require more rest than others. Sometimes, the demands placed upon us exceed our ability to handle them. It is critical in these times, of overwhelm that we protect our health. We talk all day long about the food we eat, the exercise we get but rest is rarely given as much weight in terms of our mental and physical health.
So, before your To-do list gets out of hand, where can you capture some time to rest? What can you say no to, in order to accommodate a more important Yes? How can you be more ‘lazy’ than you are used to? For some, this is harder than running the marathon we do day in and day out. It takes mindful practice each day but believe me, your longevity and health depends on it! Do it for you, for those who love you.