Slowing down is something that I’m not that good at. I’m a typical Type A personality: always a list of things to do, a short time to accomplish them and never a challenge that I don’t step up to meet. Sure, it makes me highly productive. It also makes me highly susceptible to hurting myself.
I often don’t recognize stress until it’s too late. It manifests usually in some sort of physical way: sickness, illness, back pains (all my stress goes to my back), and it always shows up at the most inopportune time. In college, I got really sick during my senior year on the first hot weekend of the spring. Do you know what kind of fun I missed? It was Atlanta in spring; at an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Fun doesn’t get much better than that. But where was I? In my dorm room, suffering from some horrid combination of a sinus infection and a cold. I was NOT happy, and swore I’d learned the lesson.
I did, for 3 years. Then it hit again, this time during spring of my last year of law school. Now, let’s be honest, spring in Michigan isn’t really anything to write home about. It’s not like it gets warm. In fact, you have a much higher chance of still seeing snow. Even so, I found myself sidelined with a sinus infection and an ear infection. It was so painful I called my mother in Richmond, VA to please come help me. The doctor prescribed Tylenol with codeine for the pain, and even that didn’t work.
You would think that I’ve learned my lesson. I thought I had. Except I am currently sitting in my bed, typing this, with a throbbing back (remember, all my stress goes to my back) and a hurt knee with a high likelihood of a torn medial meniscus (MRI this week to give a final verdict). That’s right, all jacked up. On the one hand, I could sit here and feel sorry for myself (been there, done that, got a t-shirt and moved on). Or, I could take this as a sign (or reminder) that I need to slow down. More than that, it has become a forcing mechanism to slow me down. Maybe I don’t need to do everything I’m doing. Perhaps it is time for my periodic exercise of reviewing priorities and ensuring that my activities line up to those priorities (and removing those things that don’t align).
It is critical to our physical and emotional health to slow down sometimes. How does the saying go? Oh yes, stop and smell the roses. I don’t have any roses, but I clearly need to stop and smell something pleasant. Or just pay attention to what is going on around me. It’s not always about a to do list. Sometimes it’s just about being present and in the moment, and it’s pretty hard to do that when you’re going 100 miles an hour.
Do you need to slow down? If so, take a moment today to do so. If you don’t, there will be a forcing mechanism to slow you down and, well, take it from me, you don’t want to go that route.