It starts as a slight irritation. I’m not sure why. I feel restless at the end of the day. I start Googling exotic beaches, then feel flat and frustrated afterwards.
An inner aching to return. To the place that always makes me feel free.
I can’t exactly blame the current pandemic. This feeling has inevitably surfaced every single year for the past 7 years.
I can last (as it turns out) roughly 9 months without the ocean.
And then, I kinda snap.
Nothing else will placate me from that point onwards. I can walk through trees. Meditate lots. But it’s the ocean that my soul needs most.
Do you have something like that in your life? A place that feels so much like home that you need a consistent filling up?
Does it sneak up on you, or hit you with an unexpected wave? Where suddenly you’re coming up for breath realising that hey, maybe I could have seen this coming?
Burn out, stress, exhaustion, over-working – it can all show up in a very similar way.
I’ve spent years creating systems in my life to fuel me, so I don’t end up running on empty. But sometimes, sometimes you can feel like you’re doing all you can and yet the wave still comes.
And that’s okay. That feeling of being dunked by a wave can actually be exhilarating – if you know what to do about it.
For me, my version of “knowing what to do about it” is breaks. And lots of them.
From big gaps in my weekly diary to blocking out weeks in my annual planner right at the start of the year.
The breaks are my stop-gap measure to ensure I actually refuel. Even when I’m doing things I really love doing.
So why am I telling you about elaborate ocean metaphors and my need for plenty of breaks?
Partly because I’m at that point right now – desperate to be with the ocean and refuel. (I’m taking all of next week off work and am camping for a few nights near two coastlines, phew!)
And partly because I know you’ve likely not stopped in the past few months at all.
Regardless of “how well” you’ve taken care of yourself or managed your mental and emotional wellbeing during a time of incredible change – I also know you’ve been reluctant to fully surrender.
May this be your little prompt to say you deserve to rest. It’s necessary.
Not just stopping for an hour each night to catch up on your favourite TV show, but deep deep restoration rest. Where you actually don’t work. Where you actually don’t take care of everyone else in your life. Where you sit and stare, or curl up with a book for hours, or nap in the middle of the day.
Whether you think you need it or not, you need it.
It’s why I mandate the breaks in my diary before my inner excitable puppy gets carried away with taking on too much.
A week or two ago I was staring at the full week off in my diary in July thinking “nah, I don’t need this yet, maybe we wait and see what happens”.
I’m here, future me, a few weeks later and I’m clinging. I can see that wave coming and I’m oh so grateful I’ve created a “no way out of it” system for taking a break.
My soul needs that ocean air. And my soul needs to rest.
And, I bet yours does too.
May you take a deep breath right now and let it all out.
And may this be your gentle call to take a break.