Food for the body is not enough.
There must be food for the soul. –Dorothy Day
I’ve declared that my soul is in need of some pampering. A day to disconnect, to unplug from my social media, to turn off the TV, to forget about my email, to sleep in from work, and just relax.
This realization came to me after I had a stress dream about my job. My dream seemed so real that when I woke, my body felt like it had been toiling for 16 hours straight; it was like I never clocked out. In the dream, I was planning an event fundraiser for my agency and every time I sent out a sponsorship proposal, I was rejected. The dream caused me so much stress that the next morning my neck was stiff and full of lumps, I felt sluggish and the bags under my eyes looked like empty potato sacks.
I’m at the point in my life where I’m realizing, if work is spilling into my dreams then I need a personal day, some tea time and me time, yoga in the park or something to just reset and realign my center. If you wait too long to recognize that your soul is in need of re-calibration and attention, not only will you be at risk of losing your sanity, but your body will become in danger of shutting down.
A past job of mine taught me this the hard way. I was working over time and just barely taking lunch breaks. I would sit at my desk for 11 hours and I wouldn’t even grab a drink of water. Feeling like I was always under pressure or there was always something immediate to do, made me begin to shut down and forget basic things like feeding myself or staying hydrated.
After work I would come home and all I wanted to do was sleep. Not only was my body exhausted, but I felt like my life didn’t belong to me. What was I doing that made me feel alive? What choices were I making that made me smile or feel gratified? I started to become sick because of my self-neglect. I would have 2 to 3 migraines a week. By the end of my days I would feel nauseous and weak; I even threw up in a trashcan a few times during my subway commute home. Everything in me was drained and distressed.
Once I left my job, I promised myself that I would never let another job consume my life to the point where I failed to pay attention to my own needs. I had to come first; I had to be important to me. It is so easy to fall into the social trap of making yourself secondary in your own life, but you have to be the primary person in your own narrative.
We are all our own protagonists and while there are such things as responsibilities and obligations, some of the duties you have are duties to yourself. I used to stretch myself thin, but then I realized I was just making it easier for the world to rip me to shreds. So now, instead of letting myself get to the point of tearing, I notice the signs and I do something about it.
This week, I am taking a day. Maybe I’ll go for a hike, read a book at the local coffee shop, or maybe do a cooking class with my bae, but no matter what I decide to do, it will be for me because I matter and I owe myself much more than I owe the world.
What are your plans this week to feed your soul? If you’ve been stressed, how will you realign?