A couple weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Shingles that literally left me bedridden for days. I wasn’t joking when I was telling people that this felt worse than labor and that I haven’t rested so much in my life, ever! My rashes were on my eyes and head which meant screen time or reading was excruciatingly painful and so I spent a lot of time meditating, sleeping, some audio books and podcasts, quality time with my own mind and lots of important lessons learnt. It was a very minor illness in the grand scheme of things but I am truly grateful because it really forced me to look at my life more closely and identify things that needed to change. It was a humbling reminder that my body truly needed a break. Even though I felt incredibly happy and grateful about my life at large, I was exhausted and depleted with all the million balls I was juggling and my body needed to hit pause…
Here are some of my reflections on this season of my life –
- Mental Chatter – I had been working a lot more than before over the last year or so but more importantly had got into this (unhealthy) habit of thinking about work (and everything else) all the time, literally my mind would be racing at 100 mph for a good chunk of the day, including weekends. I wouldn’t say anxiety or stress as the dominant emotion but really just my mind constantly working and this meant if I’d wake up middle of the night the same pattern would emerge and there were at least 1-2 nights a week when I couldn’t fall back asleep and no surprise that there clearly was a (negative) ripple effect on the other parts of my life.
- Values & Actions – What I have most appreciated about my life is that my actions (largely) felt in alignment with my values. I have generally spent my time and energy in ways that felt consistent with my plans and aspirations for my life. In this last season I found a few conflicting values and I’d get lost more often than I’d want to. I knew I was giving work a lot of energy and time which in some ways meant less time for other things (this blog being the project I missed the most) but I also felt I was growing as a person tremendously (not just my resume) and was building really beautiful relationships and creating a space for others to grow as well which was hugely meaningful so I found myself torn a million times and struggled on what to do.
- Mindfulness – As I mentioned earlier, I had never had so much “free time” in a very long time and I spent a lot of time meditating and simply re-training my brain to simply come back to my breath. Even though I have been practicing for years, this was the first time I saw the peace and strength that I could access in my own heart and a few weeks in, I am already seeing a big difference in better managing my emotions and the constant mental chatter that led to so much exhaustion and fatigue.
- Self-Compassion – Once I saw this, it was a beautiful opportunity to practice self-compassion for my confusions, struggles and going somewhat off track and reminding myself that I could come back to what was important going forward. There were enough moments when it would be easy to beat myself up but I had to ask my inner critic to sit in the trunk of the car and invite my wise self to gently hold my hand and serve as my GPS moving forward.
- Growth Mindset – Similarly, it was also a beautiful time to remind myself that yes, managing and prioritizing everything effectively is a skill that I could get even better at with practice and awareness.
- Replenishment – I read an article (can’t find it now!) that emphasized that when we are giving so much in the world whether through work (while also raising 2 kids and the other roles I play in my life) we need to invest more in replenishing ourselves which was relevant. While, I was reasonably good about taking care of myself over the last few months but falling sick was a reminder that I needed to do even more to nourish myself. Getting a massage or a restorative yoga class when I was fully empty wasn’t enough and that I needed to more periodically rest and recharge vs. when I was really depleted.
- Identity – I really missed the part of my identity that was more than a tech employee, a mom and a wife. I find tremendous meaning in all these roles but as I have often written here that this isn’t enough for me. I missed writing, teaching yoga and working on my creative projects where I was helping others in their journey.
- Success – Working on a high stakes & intense project with a lot of unknowns and uncertainty meant that I was often indexing on working and thinking more for everything to be successful. While a part of me knew that wasn’t effective or sustainable, I couldn’t convince myself of another way out especially when my entire team was working so incredibly hard. I felt I had to be there for all of them at all times, but I took it a little too far😊
- Power of Love – Most importantly, I realized I had never felt more loved in my life. Friends and family were such a gift and the beautiful manifestation of their love in their own ways still tears me up. My fridge was constantly stocked up with healthy homemade food which was the best gift possible especially as Sumit was single handedly running the house with two little kids while also taking care of me. My team at work took incredible care of me with the most thoughtful messages and gestures but more importantly by truly creating a safe space were I could really rest and recover guilt free. Love truly heals…
There is another post in the works on what I will be doing differently from these insights