How exhaustion is teaching me self-acceptance

I’m tired tonight. Really tired. It’s been gradually building all week, and it’s been an interesting process to observe.

I’ve been taking such good care of myself lately, that it’s been startling to see the difference in the person I am when I’m rested and am practicing self-care and the person I am when I’m exhausted and worn out. For many years, I thought this exhausted version of me was all that existed. Now I know better.

I normally get just barely enough sleep for my body’s needs, so several nights of going to bed just a little late and having the cats wake me more than normal in the night takes a big toll because I have no extra reserve built in. I’ve also been trying to squeeze a little bit more into my days this week with several unexpected social activities. These things have been fun, but they have led both to the later nights and to a drain of energy (as an introvert who needs time to process after socializing). I’ve also had many more meetings at work than normal, which is draining as well.

In the meantime, because of all that I’ve been juggling, I’ve been practicing a little less self-care too. I’ve kept up with my morning pages, my gratitude journal, and my blogging, but (in addition to getting less sleep) I’ve been eating more junk food (primarily Halloween candy that is everywhere at work), spending less time on creative work, less time reading for pleasure, and have had no stare at the wall time.

My sinuses are acting up, my throat is scratchy, I am starting to get chills this evening, and my body aches. It doesn’t take much for my body to rebel when I don’t get enough rest.

The biggest thing that I noticed today, though, was how I was reacting to other people. I am irritable, defensive, impatient, and judgmental. It took me longer than normal to get things done because I couldn’t focus my thoughts, couldn’t type properly, and easily lost my train of thought. I kept forgetting things (including what I was doing at any given point in time). It felt like I was in a fog.

Most of all, I really didn’t like me very much when I’m like this.

BUT … the beauty of this was that I knew it was just exhaustion talking. I didn’t take any of my thoughts or feelings as truth (as I once would have). I was able to give myself a little grace knowing that this would pass, and it won’t define me forever. That’s a big deal!

It’s also made me look again at all that I’m trying to do. I already knew that I was trying to do too much, so I had already decided not to try to take any more classes after this semester. I’m still on the hook for the rest of this semester, though, but at least I know it’s temporary. I also know that the yard work demands will decrease over the next month or so as the Fall chores get wrapped up. Both of those will help, although I still have Christmas preparations to get through in the meantime.

The key to making it through the next couple of months is going to be making sure I get enough sleep and being very protective of my time. There are so many wonderful activities this time of year that I want to be part of, but I have to remember that I can’t do them all and still be the person that I want to be.

Our extroverted world tends to make harsh judgments about those of us who need more down time than most. I used to buy into those judgments and use them to try to make myself. I often told myself I was selfish or there was something wrong with me that I couldn’t go and do and stay up late and socialize like others.

The truth is that I am a nicer person, a happier person, and a more productive person when I honor the way I am made and do what is necessary to meet my body’s needs. And that makes me better able to contribute to others and society than trying to fit society’s expectations of who I should be.

I don’t really like the way I feel right now, and I hope to catch up on some sleep this weekend so that next week can be a better week. But I am genuinely delighted at this shift in how I am reacting to feeling this way and the lack of beating myself up over it. I may finally be learning a bit of self-acceptance.

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5 thoughts on “How exhaustion is teaching me self-acceptance

  1. Self acceptance and insight are both super cool! Now, go to bed… For me, it truly take very little of “too much” to put a huge dent in my attitude and well-being. People just have to deal with me being protective of my “me” time if they want to see the best for me, and of me.

    • Headed to bed now! I’m like you, it doesn’t take very much to put me over the edge. I’m glad to know it’s not just me, and I think I am need to get better at being protective of that time whether others approve or not. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. I have felt very much the same this week. Allowing my sleep and meditation fall by the wayside in the name of “productivity” when really I am far less productive. I think a lot of people are feeli g quite drained lately. Thanks for sharing KJ! I hope you get some good rest this weekend.

    • Isn’t it funny how we skip the self-care that makes us most productive when we are focused on productivity? I do that all the time and always regret it. I hope you get some good rest this weekend too!

  3. Pingback: Practicing self-compassion | Journey Through the Chrysalis

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