When life says slow down, do you listen? I didn’t, and here’s what happened.
I have to be upfront and honest with you; I drained my mental health battery. It’s my fault because I didn’t follow the advice I share with others. Sometimes I’m great at helping others and not so great with self-care. Can you relate?
Because of this, I decided to go back and re-read posts I wrote about how to help solve this issue. It’s so important to recharge the batteries, especially if you want to help others. You can’t give from an empty well.
How It All Got Started
The signs didn’t begin arriving until after I got home from a week-long work trip. I was away for two days of national meetings plus five days of trade show events. By the end of the seven days, my introverted self was exhausted from being on 24/7.
I left my hotel on Saturday and drove three hours straight to a wedding. (Well, first I met my wife in the parking lot of a convenience store parking lot to change into my suit.) Poor planning on my part, I know, but it was unavoidable.
The following Monday, I spent the day working just outside of New York City. I had Tuesday to get through and then the rest of the week was going to be traveling to Pittsburgh before finally ending Friday for a weekend with the family.
I Saw the Sign, and It Didn’t Open my Eyes
Tuesday while driving home from appointments I stopped in traffic waiting for the light at the intersection to change. I was chatting with a co-worker when out of nowhere I was rear-ended by two cars. A young driver wasn’t paying attention, he slammed into the car behind me, which then pushed my car forward.
Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, and all the cars were able to drive away without significant damage. I had a nasty headache from my head whipping forward, but I was alive. The young driver apologized profusely to both the woman involved and me, and that was that.
Wednesday I was ready for my trip to Pittsburgh, but my wife kept telling me to stay home and reschedule. I ignored her. Then Wednesday morning, I noticed my driver-side rear tire was flat. I drove to three different gas stations before I could get it repaired. Again, a sign I totally ignored.
Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Needless to say, I went to Pittsburgh, but when I got home, I was wiped out and in pain. Friday morning, I slept in, but when I finally woke up, I felt like I could sleep for days. My head was throbbing with a pounding headache. I sat in bed, wondering how did I end up feeling like such shit?
Like I said at the top of the post, sometimes I’m good with sharing great advice but don’t always follow it. Also, at times, I can be a slow learner. Life was screaming at me to slow down and take care of myself, yet I chose not to listen. The realization came a few days later, at that moment, lying in bed wondering what the hell just happened.
The long work trip, the accident, flat tire, more travel. These were all messages, and usually, I’m a good listener. I also have tools that I can pull out to help me stay on track with my mental and physical help. Instead of beating myself up, I chose to dive in deeper.
The Real-Life Lesson
Now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on the entire experience, I’ve re-learned a most valuable lesson. You are you’re own best advocate for self-care, for mental health, and physical health. No one is going to do it for you, so you have to put your foot down and make it happen.
Sometimes life gets so busy that we tune out from the energy around us. Often when that happens, it takes an accident to shake us out of the funk and to pay attention again. At times, life can get so busy that we sacrifice our health, and that is a sacrifice you don’t want to make.
Another valuable lesson reaffirmed: this human life is so precious, and we only have this moment. So at this moment, put the phone down and say hello to a stranger, hug and kiss your children, go out and do something for someone who is struggling. If this precious human life is all that we have and we don’t get another shot at it then make your life as meaningful as you possibly can.
Take the opportunity to enjoy time alone. Tell your boss you’re taking the day off. Go out on a date with your kids or your partner. Relax and see the beauty in your surroundings, you can find that beauty wherever you are so long as you try (you can even find that beauty in those who seem like “bad” people.)
Make yourself some tea or coffee and read your favorite book. Reach out to those in need and ask, “how can I help?” Write a letter, pick up that instrument you haven’t played in months, create some art because you’ll feel better when you do.
More importantly, never take yourself and your life for granted.
Recharging the Batteries
This post was previously published on Charles Minguez and is republished here with permission from the author.
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