My niece is 16 months old. Like many children her age, she has a tendency to show her love in sometimes forceful ways. When she goes in for a kiss that turns into a bite, or heads over to pat a dog or a cat, she often gets told to "be gentle". Her intentions are good and pure as can be, but sometimes the force behind them comes out a little strong. It's understandable.
Lately I've been trying to tell myself the same thing. Anxiety is no stranger to me, and these past few weeks it's been hitting me a little harder than normal.
Usually, I put this anxiety to use by getting up early, working hard, managing multiple projects at once, always multi-tasking. It feels so damn good to use that energy in a productive way and to push myself to do more, more, more in an effort to satisfy that inner anxiety and energy.
But not this week. This week, after losing sleep a few nights in a row, I've heard those words so often repeated to my niece. Be gentle. Rather than pushing through sleepiness or forcing myself to run when I wasn't feeling great, I've let myself be – slept in a little bit more, pushed myself just a little bit less, and felt ok with it. I've been listening to my body when it tells me that it's tired. I've been gentle on myself, and it's felt really nice.
Interested in doing the same? In case you need to take a little break from yourself, here's a quick, foolproof guide on taking it easy:
Sleep in for a few extra minutes in the morning. Go to bed early, or do both.
Wrap yourself in a blanket and let it protect you.
Be ok not feeling like yourself sometimes. Know that it will pass.
Accept that sometimes everything will feel big and scary and overwhelming, and that sometimes you'll feel behind and confused, and accept that that feeling will never go away no matter how old you get. Let that feeling come over you but don't let it in.
Stretch out, then curl up in a ball and read.
Smell something nice-smelling; make sure it has aromatherapeutic benefits.
Phone a friend. Watch a show you love, listen to a good podcast, find something that reminds you of a previous version of yourself.
Let things be ok.
Take time, take care, and mostly – be gentle.
If you feel tired, let yourself rest. If you feel overworked, let yourself breathe. And if you feel a little less than sure of yourself one day, then let it be and get comfortable until you feel sure again. Be easy on yourself, be gentle, and let things be ok.