Category Archives: Day of Rest

Day of Rest: Breathe Easy

I’ve been thinking a lot about the breath, about breathing. For whatever reason, not being able to breathe is one of my biggest fears. It’s why I didn’t really learn to swim until a few years ago, (I couldn’t put my face in the water, because I couldn’t BREATHE and was certain I was going to die), and why sometimes when I’m getting a massage and I’m face down, I have a full on panic attack, have to stop the whole process and can only finish if I stay up on my elbows, head raised. This adds a whole other level to my anxiety about COVID-19. I ordered a finger pulse oximeter to keep at home, (if I get sick and think I’m not getting enough oxygen, I can check my levels and I’ll either know I need to go to the hospital or have tangible proof that I am in fact okay), and I’ve been practicing these breathing exercises each night before I go to sleep.

In yoga, we consciously practice with our breath. It is so central to the practice, so essential, it has its own category: Pranayama. “Prana” is our vital, universal life force and “ayama” means to regulate or lengthen. Pranayama is the effort to consciously control our life force. As typically our body is breathing without us paying much attention to it, this practice brings intention to our breathing, brings our full system into balance.

Working with our breath allows us to be fully present. It brings our mind, heart, and body into alignment. Breathing nourishes our body. It also allows us to make space, literally and figuratively, for whatever arises. Consciously breathing can calm our nervous system and at the same time bring necessary support to our physical body, especially in times of stress or illness. There is no life without breath.

I’ve also been thinking about the double meaning of “breathe easy.” In relation to physical health, it’s a good sign when we can breathe easily, when our airways are unobstructed and our respiration is regulated, unlabored. Also, when we are in a calm and confident state, our mind clear and our emotions manageable, we breathe easy. In such a time as this, it seems even more important to be in touch with our breath, to practice soothing, restoring, and energizing ourselves with our breath.

May you and I breathe easy, kind and gentle reader. May we come home to ourselves on each inhale, surrendering what no longer serves us on each exhale. As Joan Halifax (an American Zen Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, ecologist, civil rights activist, hospice caregiver, and the author of several books on Buddhism and spirituality) posted on Facebook this morning:

May I be open to the true nature of life.
May I open to the unknown as I let go of the known.
May I offer gratitude to those around me.
May I be grateful for this life.
May I and all beings live and die peacefully.

Day of Rest: Burnout Recovery

The door to nowhere…

I’m categorizing this post as a “Day of Rest” because that’s usually what I post, if I post, on a Sunday. To be fair, it could also be a Life Rehab Resources, or What I Learned, or What I’m Doing. I’m realizing that after nine months of taking care of myself and trying to be patient, that if I was 100% burnt out nine months ago, I’m still about 87% burnt out now, and I should maybe be taking a more direct approach (instead of trying to “wait it out”), which for me typically starts with some deep research and contemplation.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram asking for books that had helped people through recovery from burnout, even if it wasn’t specifically about burnout. Some of the suggestions were:

One person on Facebook asked for clarification about the cause of my burnout, as that might help her make a more effective recommendation. As I told her, and I think have said here before, “the reasons are compound: just retired after 19 years in a stressful job, on year 11 of perimenopause, an autoimmune disorder, complex-PTSD, etc. So pretty much pick a reason and I’ve probably got it.” That makes deciding on a direct approach for recovery so much more complicated.

What’s been working for me so far, in terms of practices and support: Therapy, quitting my job, reading, watching lots of TV and taking lots of naps, eating what I want when I want it as much as I want, aqua aerobics, yoga, meditation, massage, having honest conversations with those close to me, asking for what I need, walking and napping and cuddling with my dogs, my infrared heating pad, our new living room furniture, flowers in the bathroom, cleaning out my office, getting more plants, limiting the amount of time I spend “peopling,” listening to music and podcasts, comedy, sitting in the sauna, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs are asleep, really good healthcare for my dogs (the better care they get, the less stressed I feel), writing, turning down the volume on bad news, cute animal and baby and dance videos, art, CBD oil, a small dose of THC before bed to help me sleep, the softest pjs in the world, my moon lamp, my HappyLight, and a sunrise alarm clock.

Another thing I have to do is cultivate patience and a willingness (which is currently reluctant) to accept that this could be permanent. I may never have more energy than I have right now and I need to figure out how to be okay with that.

All that said, I have a favor to ask you, kind and gentle reader: if you have recovered from burnout, what worked for you? What did you try, read, watch, do to feel better? If you don’t mind, could you post a comment or send me an email (lifewholehearted@gmail.com) and let me know? One request: as I am in recovery for not one but three eating disorders, even if a diet or nutritional supplement worked for you, could you leave that part out? I have to be super careful about how I handle anything having to do with nourishing myself through food or supplements, so not referencing anything related to that would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. You are the best!