Balancing Self-Care: Rest vs Pushing Through

Do you ever struggle to find the balance between giving yourself reasonable rest and not pushing too hard when you’re overwhelmed or just unenthusiastic about keeping things moving forward? 

I’ve been open about being burned out lately. I’ve taken breaks, and I’ve appreciated my growth in being able to manage this in a much healthier way than I knew how to in the past. 

While I still need to proceed with caution and not throw myself right back into overwhelm, I’m also realizing I’m going to have to intentionally set some new habits to support the lifestyle I want to live. I had been in such a nice flow that it had started to feel almost effortless, even though I knew I had done plenty behind the scenes to set it up. Now, routines and habits have shifted, and it’s simply time to choose again which things are going to be priorities for this season to help life take shape. 

Looking back to how I would have felt in the past, I would have seen this as a failure. Like I dropped the ball and instead of keeping things running smoothly forever and making more and more progress, I moved backward. We accept this belief that we always have to be going somewhere, that we’re always supposed to be improving or at least not getting worse. If we lose ground, we’re failures. 

Maybe it’s because I have so many interests that often turn into goals with steps that require further effort that I feel I have to keep moving, combined with productivity standards from our society and the typical misunderstanding of laziness for executive functioning resets – but it can get unhealthy quickly if left unchecked. I no longer let the guilt overpower me. 

It’s clearly time for me to redirect my energy and find the balance in going with the current while intentionally choosing which paths. I’m not going the exact same direction anymore, but I’m not going backward. The old quest line is complete, and I’m starting a new one. 

Why is it so ingrained to see change as failure when it requires effort to get to the same comfort level? Why aren’t we encouraged to grow to meet the next challenge? I am not for the false enthusiasm laced with toxic positivity, but I’m also baffled by the narrative we adopt and judge ourselves by. I learned this, and then I had to unlearn it.  

Without habits in place, more of my energy next week is going to go to recreating my current lifestyle with its current needs and demands. This feels daunting when you already feel like you’re behind or you’ve failed. With awareness and kindness to myself, I’m looking forward to navigating it – intentionally – and probably giving myself more breaks, knowing I’ll be getting worn out easier. 

It’s my responsibility to build this, and while it’s exhausting looking forward, it will be more worthwhile than haphazardly being blown by the wind. It’s a delicate balance, and I have to have much self-awareness to acknowledge the difference in this versus my normal state of flow. The difference is that I’ve noticed I’ve been setting myself up for coping, not living, and that’s not my goal long term. 

I spent this week in unintentional habits created when I just needed a break and gave it to myself. This was never where I meant to stay, and I will not be satisfied living here. If I don’t intentionally choose, even when I’m “tired”, I’ll get stuck in a place I don’t want to be. That becomes its own fatiguing experience where unfulfillment turns to further exhaustion and struggle to summon the energy to create something new. 

I wondered what was “wrong with me” for years, and now I see how the parts fit together when I remove the productivity narrative and the shame that keeps it playing out. Now that I take true self-responsibility and have nothing to prove, I’m free.

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