Appreciating the Little Things When Feeling Burned Out

Today is Friday and I have never been more thankful for a weekend than I am right now.

I really hate complaining, but lately I’ve been feeling an immense amount of burn out. I’m honestly not surprised though and find that I go through times like this whenever the holidays roll around. It was a busy October with Halloween, somehow Thanksgiving and Black Friday are creeping up quickly, and before I know it we will be putting up the Christmas tree. I swear in one week I went from trick-or-treating, to picking up gravy at Williams Sonoma (but seriously, have you tried it?), to ordering Christmas cards. All of that is on top of my own job obligations, our son’s school schedule, my husband’s work schedule, family obligations, etc. Like… 😅

However, the holidays are no excuse not to take care of one’s self. Mental health is important, and prioritizing it is essential for one’s overall well-being. If you know me, you know I’m a huge advocate of self care, but it’s very hard to schedule in that self-care time when the agenda is packed. Unfortunately, I do believe that I’ve neglected this area of my life lately and this is not fair to me or those I love. Essentially, I feel like I’ve been trying to pour from an empty cup.

I had an incident happen yesterday that really illuminated all this for me — that I haven’t really been taking care of myself. It’s going to sound silly but just hear me out:

As I was rushing home from work and picking my son up from school, I found myself in a line of traffic. If ever there was a bad time to be stuck in traffic, this was the time. I had a scheduled doctor’s appointment for 3:30 PM that I kept putting off and rescheduling and now I was definitely going to be late. (See? This is bad self care!) I got home, dropped my kid off to my husband in a hurry, and ran out the door. I was rushing down the highway, finally got to the downtown doctor’s office, parked, and headed inside just in time for that 3:30 PM appointment. (It was literally 3:28 PM.)

However, after checking in at the desk I was immediately informed by the staff that my appointment was actually not until 4:30 PM. I was an hour early.

Naturally, I was annoyed. Not only did I just spend the last hour rushing around like a lunatic, but I was so disorganized that I didn’t even know for what time my appointment was scheduled. Additionally, I kept thinking to myself that this was going to be an hour wasted doing nothing while I have oodles of tasks to compete at home.

I told the receptionist that I would be back in an hour and would go grab a coffee in the meantime at the cafe a few doors down. I left the office and walked into this coffee shop that I’ve never even been in before. I ordered a very normal, iced black coffee (my usual) and sat down on one of the couches. I was the only person in the shop besides the barista, and the only noise I heard was the faint sound of Norah Jones’ voice playing over the speakers.

I took a sip of my coffee (which was excellent, by the way) and felt myself exhale while my body sank into the couch cushions. I genuinely felt every muscle of my body relax. It dawned on me in this moment that this was the first time I sat down without anything to do in a very long time. It felt so good to just sit there and do nothing. For a while I didn’t even look at my phone.

The only reason I had this hour to myself is because of an accident. I was wrong about my scheduled appointment time and rushed around for no reason and was forced to sit at that coffee shop for an hour. (I could have sat at the doctor’s office or in my car, but my point is that this hour to do nothing was forced on me.)

Maybe this was God telling me that I need to take care of myself, too. I can rush around and handle everything, make every appointment, bake every cupcake for the school bake sale, and do forty loads of laundry in a day, but if I am not taking care of myself in addition to all this other stuff, it really doesn’t matter because I am too exhausted to appreciate the hard work.

It felt so good to just sit and do nothing for even that one hour. If all it takes is one hour, I should need to be able to take the time for myself.

Today was a rainy day on the Jersey Shore. This weekend is another fully scheduled one so today I made a cozy comfort meal, poured a glass of wine, and just slowed down.

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