When I started radiation therapy for breast cancer, my radiologist reviewed a list of side effects with me to prepare me for the journey ahead. Since the effects of radiation are cumulative, she said that the fatigue would become more pronounced following the second week of treatment, which I just completed. This weekend, I learned that my radiologist did not lie. I. Am. Exhausted.
I awoke yesterday after a good night’s sleep and found myself still feeling utterly and completely exhausted, which did not coincide with my laundry list of things that I needed to do, which included doing the laundry. I made my way through the day, fueled by sheer determination and absolute necessity. I also was motivated by the thought that if I could work hard yesterday, then I could hardly work today. That explains why I am still snuggled up in my pajamas and a warm blanket well into the day.
Even though I planned on doing nothing today, I found myself besieged with thoughts of what I could and should do almost as soon as I opened my eyes. Even though I am alone this weekend, I felt as if I had to justify to myself why I needed to take a break, as if radiation treatment were not enough of a legitimate reason. As I have struggled with my desire to rest and my compulsion to be doing something, anything, I realized that far too often it takes a revolt led by my body to slow me down. Taking time to simply be, instead of constantly thinking and doing, usually happens by force, not by choice. Today, I made a wise choice indeed.
Physically and emotionally, I have been running on fumes, and in the stillness of today, it occurred to me that I need to commit to taking a break on a regular basis. Instead of leaving it up to chance, I devised a list of ways that I can build breaks into my life:
- Meditate. If I had a dollar for every time it is has been suggested that I meditate, I would be wealthier, and if I had taken that suggestion every time it has been offered to me, I would be wiser and calmer. Even if it is only for 5 minutes/day, I intend to give my mind a break. Trust me, it may not always seem like it, but a lot goes on inside my head, and overthinking is draining.
- Single task. I am a master of multi-tasking. Turning my lunch break into grabbing a quick bite to eat while I check emails, do research, prepare for a call, etc. Doing tasks while on the phone with friends or family. Balancing my checkbook, folding, laundry, ironing, etc. watching a movie or television show. At times, these things can be time savers, but too often, they leave me feeling frazzled. I intend to look for opportunities to focus on one thing at a time and fully experience it and, maybe even, enjoy it.
- Sleep more. After years of being both a night owl and an early bird, I have developed a greater appreciation for the restorative and healing powers of sleep since being diagnosed with breast cancer. I have regarded sleep as a time waster, when being well-rested is a time enhancer, as rest energizes me.
- Schedule pajama days. During my daughters’ recent snow days off from school, they both remarked how much they love “pajama days” sometimes. It reminded me that we all need days like today where we do a whole lot of nothing, and so, we will.
- Take a vacation. I have not had a “real” vacation, when I plan and take a trip, in years, and as much as I love time at home on my days off, I am longing to get away from my daily routine for a bit. I don’t even know where I want to go or what I want to do. I just know that I want to go somewhere, anywhere.
- Soak in a bathtub. I favor showers instead of baths on daily basis, due to the time factor involved in the latter. That said, I enjoy soaking in a hot tub of scented bubbles, oils, or Epsom salts, but I have not indulged in this luxury in months and months. Time to change that, starting today.
These are just some of the ways I can get more out of doing less, and I intend to make good on these and more as I continue to live intentionally, this year and beyond.
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day