What is my body trying to say?
It would be an understatement if I said this past week has been a pleasant week. Overall, it has been. It would not be an untruth — I’ve had more “on” days than “off”, and for this, I am grateful. However, grief is hitting me differently, and I have dealt with a few aches, pains, and discomforts as I try to move through each day as they come. At the closing of each night, just before I get into bed, I have noted how I feel — what my heart senses — how my body is trying to communicate with me. I am healing. There is no denying this, but something is pulling at me — something still has a major hold.
I mentioned in the previous installment about having to take a week away from social media and much of the online world, and I also took a day of bereavement from work early last week. There is no doubt in my mind that each of these things needed to take place. I had been feeling incredibly overwhelmed and sunken by the pull of sadness and an overall sense of exhaustion that cannot be described.
I catered to myself. I made myself a priority. The usual adulting things had to take place, but I set a goal for myself to “do nothing” in the evenings during my break away from the online world. And do nothing is exactly what I did. The following Monday, though, I hit the ground running once again, even pursued some more overtime at work, and this past Thursday, May 12, 2022, I started experiencing some nausea. By Friday, it was several trips to the bathroom that also ran into this morning.
Could this be my body’s way of telling me I bolted out of my period of rest too soon, or could I be experiencing the first few phases of burnout?
What is burnout and how do I resolve to not welcome it?
The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as:
Job burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.
“Burnout” isn’t a medical diagnosis. Some experts think that other conditions, such as depression, are behind burnout. Researchers point out that individual factors, such as personality traits and family life, influence who experiences job burnout.
Whatever the cause, job burnout can affect your physical and mental health.
I won’t delve into all the symptoms of burnout here — for those, you can read the list. I will mention the ones I am currently experiencing.
- I lack the energy to be consistently productive.
- I have found it hard lately to concentrate.
- My sleeping habits have changed.
- I have begun (again) to use food to feel better or change my mood.
- I have had several headaches, changes in bowel habits, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue for the past few months.
It is important for me to assess these things and understand why I am the current host of choice. Could they all just be lingering things occurring because of grief? Or, am I truly overdoing it and my body is on the verge of telling me, “SIT DOWN SOMEWHERE, NOW!”
I want to be wiser than the things currently happening, which is why I’ve reserved several days off from work in the coming months. We will have Memorial Day off, which is coming up shortly. I have requested Friday, July 08, 2022, and Monday, July 11, 2022, as well as two more days in August and a day in October. I rarely request this much time off from work, but I have well over 130 hours of PTO, and it is time I use it.
Maybe by doing this, I can curb any other symptoms from introducing themselves to me. *Fingers crossed*
Cooking as a gift to myself.
Recently, I have found it best to drain my sorrows in junk food, fast food, and all things unhealthy and this is something I must will myself to end. For a little over three years, I’d been on a path to eating more healthy foods, exercising, donating hours of self-care/self-love to myself, and cooking as relaxation. After my bout with my digestive system over the last few days, I have had enough.
I am resetting myself so my body will be kind to me again. I’ve purchased fresh ingredients and items necessary to make lasagna for dinner tomorrow. I will have steamed zucchini and squash as the vegetables. I will put forth conscious efforts to continue exercising and enjoying the sunny days “predicted” in the forecast.
Cooking is a gift I can give myself. I will know what I am putting into my system and what I plan to remove. It is relaxation I cannot describe adequately. When I am in my kitchen, listening to music, or to the pleasant birdsong I seem to get in my area, the meal I have in mind takes on a fantastical presence. I am shifted into a mini world of The Food Network, where I am an amazing chef and my viewers await my next recipe.
It lends me a sense of peace, and I know I need so much more now — it’s time I lean back into this talent I neglected.
Hello, body. I hear you.
The last few months have been hard. I am learning to face the things damaging to my mind, body, and heart head-on, and issue grace on a more frequent basis to myself. If my body is trying to say I am going in the wrong direction, it is time I shift it and get us back on the right path. I know my cousin would agree with me — my aunt, too. Realizing that their physical forms are no longer here with me for me to hug, hold on to, embrace, and welcome has given me a new sense of love for all living things.
I love my body. I want to give it what it needs, even if I am still carrying the weight of grief neatly on my shoulders. None of what I gift myself will be in vain. I know what I need to do now. Body, I hear you.
I will leave you with a quote I find applicable to today’s installment:
Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. — Oprah Winfrey
Welcome to The Grieving Room. I am here. You are here. We are not alone in this.
See you next Saturday.
©2022 Tremaine L. Loadholt Originally published in The Grieving Room Newsletter via LinkedIn