I take sabbatical week off every 7 weeks.
It’s a time when I intentionally slow down and focus on things I don’t get to normally. I might work on fun creative projects for myself or reflect on my business goals and processes during my mini sabbaticals.
What’s great about taking a regular time-off is I can schedule work in advance around it, and it motivates me to hustle and stay productive when I’m “on.”
Because I work very hard on weeks between my mini sabbaticals, I usually enjoy my time off relatively guilt-free.
By the time my 7th week rolls around, I’m SO ready. I can definitely feel the burn and feel my time off is well deserved.
But what about the time when I’m forced to slow down outside of my scheduled time off?
Life happens. You try your best to “schedule” things and stick to them, but it doesn’t always happen according to your plan.
I had to face this during February and March of this year when I suffered a stomach ulcer. And it really forced me to slow down and take care of myself
It didn’t come easy. I felt so guilty slowing down even though I was in a lot of pain.
Before I knew I had an ulcer, I just thought I had an upset stomach for some reason. I’d been on a Candida diet for several weeks prior and just started adding some foods back in my diet again. So I thought it was a natural reaction to the diet change and tried to “wait and see” if it got better on its own.
Weeks passed by, and it got worse.
I couldn’t eat very much and was feeling weak. I was depressed because I couldn’t eat (and you know how much I LOVE to eat!) and was afraid to eat because the pain would come after eating. I wasn’t sleeping well due to the pain or the fear of pain.
I was stressed out and scared. Desperate for information, I looked it up on the internet, and it tells you all kinds of potential causes for your symptoms, including cancer…(which I believed wasn’t the case based on other symptoms but still scary.)
Our insurance coverage (we’re on Obama care) is less than awesome, so the potential medical cost would stress me out, too.
I felt bad and guilty laying around on the couch during the work hours.
I thought, my eyes and hands still work, so I should be able to do work.
If I “took it slow” outside of my scheduled time off, I won’t be able to achieve my goals, will I? Nobody else can do what I do for me. And, I don’t have a paid sick leave any more!!
I’d press on even if I was in a lot of pain. I’d try to stick to my regular routine as much as possible.
I didn’t want to admit to myself that I needed to course correct because I didn’t think I could afford to.
Eventually, I saw my naturopath and got the diagnosis. She put me on a treatment plan, and I gradually started feeling better.
Putting a name to what I was experiencing helped shift my mindset. It gave me a permission to focus on healing.
When I thought I was just having a random stomachache, I was so annoyed and tried to ignore it.
But as soon as I learned the official diagnosis, it suddenly made it OK for me to focus on feeling better. It made my experience somehow more real and serious.
Like, finally I had a legitimate reason to slow down.
It’s weird I needed someone with an authority to tell me what I was experiencing was a real thing, and that I didn’t need to feel guilty about slowing down. But apparently, I did.
My work and goals were important, but it wasn’t worth sacrificing my health for.
I needed to prioritize getting better, and everything else needed to take a back seat.
So whenever the pain would come on, I didn’t even bother to get any work done. I simply stopped resisting. I just laid on the couch and did things to help ease the pain (heat pad, massage, tea etc.) for as long as I needed.
I also learned to use the time between my bouts of stomach pain to focus on my work. I had a shorter amount of time to work, so it naturally helped me to stay motivated and productive.
Fortunately, I responded to the treatment really well and have been feeling well since April! Thank goodness for that!
Nothing makes me more grateful for my health than having been ill.
You can schedule your sabbaticals, but you can’t schedule when you get sick.
When you get sick and your body is screaming for help, don’t resist it. Give yourself permission to tend to your needs. If you have a hard time doing that, like I do, let someone else tell you it’s OK.
And when you slow down to take care of yourself, stop feeling guilty about it. Guilt does not serve anyone, and it certainly doesn’t help you heal faster 🙂