Originally published Type A Yoga Blog, October 26, 2012
You know how the more stuff you have to do, the more likely you are to get sick? We know it is because we tend to get more stressed, take care of ourselves less, and have more strain on our systems, but we feel as though we have no alternatives. Everything seems like it has to get done ASAP. Yet once you get sick, suddenly it just doesn’t seem to matter anymore…
Whenever I get sick I suddenly have to re-prioritize. I get subs for my classes. I accept that I can’t do everything on my own. I accept that sometimes I simply don’t get to do some of the things I want. I realize that in that moment, recharging is the single most important thing I can do. So, then, why can’t I realize this the rest of the time?
When we are faced with an onslaught of tasks in our day to day life, we frequently get into a panic mindset and simply react to each new thing coming at us. They all feel like a top priority because we never have a chance to really think about it. When we have 40 something things to get done and only 20 of them actually get completed, the other 20 generally don’t cause the sun to cease rising or the planet to explode. We often just wind up “getting over it.” Sometimes you look up from all of your doing and busyness and realize the thing you thought was so important could have easily waited a couple of weeks after all.
A master teacher once said something at a yoga workshop that really stuck with me, and it went something like this: You have a stack of papers on your desk. They cause you to worry about getting stuff done. Over time the priorities matter less and the papers become clutter. They cause you to worry about disorganization. Over more time, the priorities in the stack of papers expire completely and you just throw them away. The funny thing is the papers themselves never changed. Only your perspective did.
As someone who struggles to practice mindfulness, I know these things intellectually. I know that I should try to take each moment individually to allow me to respond rather than react. I know that if I make the time to take time for myself, the other things will happen more quickly and easily anyway. And yet, I can never seem to make myself realize that at the times when I need the awareness most!
This cold and flu season, I’ve decided I’m going to think like I’m sick. If I were to catch a cold right now, what would I do? What would I be able to adjust, or shift, or delegate? How would I change my priorities? My theory is that maybe all of this extra time I’m so desperately seeking is hiding in this to-do list somewhere, and calling in sick to myself may just be the way to find it. Even better, calling in sick may just be the way to keep from actually getting sick in the first place. After all, being sick sure is a lousy way to spend a sick day.