I woke up on Saturday morning with every inch of me in a kind of pain I can’t even begin to describe. I reached out for my phone to check the time. It was 11am. I never wake up that late anymore. Not even on my days off. 

To no one’s surprise – Netflix and chill turned out to be Netflix and sleep. 

I wasn’t just exhausted. I was depleted. 

For those of us who work in ‘nurturing’ professions – teaching, counselling, nursing and the like – burnout is something that inevitably happens when you forget to take care of yourself. 

But it could happen to anyone. Even you. 

For the past two months, my schedule has been packed, packed, packed. There’s always something to do. Someone to meet. Some obligation or responsibility that requires my attention. 

Now here I was – lying on my futon at midday and unable to move for no real reason.

I was struggling to get my act together when I heard a voice of reason that wasn’t my own, “D, take the weekend to yourself. You need it. Do what you want, and to hell with everyone else.”

I cancelled everything in my schedule for the rest of the weekend. My loved ones understood. At 2pm, I was still getting text messages asking what my plans were for that evening.

I turned off my phone. I’d had enough. 

I desperately needed a day of rest. 

I showered, dressed, didn’t bother with makeup and went for a Shiatsu massage: my favourite kind. Shiatsu means ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese and is a clothes-on massage done with a towel covering your body. I’m generally a hot-blooded person and after Shiatsu I’m so chilled out it’s not even funny. 

Based on concepts derived from traditional Chinese medicine, Shiatsu practitioners believe that an energy called qi flows through a network of meridians in the body. Whenever the flow of this energy is disrupted, we experience physical pain and emotional distress. 

“My shoulders and knees ache,” I told the masseuse. 

“The knots are in your neck,” she said.

Go figure. 

After the massage, my body was pain free. To think it only took an hour. I used to get these massages once every two weeks when I lived in Oita – but the Kanto area has too many attractions (distractions?). 

I must take better care of myself in the future. 

And then I came home and meditated.

I’ve been meditating just about every morning for seven years now. Despite the fact that I only do it for 20 minutes a day, it’s a really big part of my life. 

But yesterday, I just let go. I let the time pass and allowed myself to just breathe and be. I opened my eyes an hour later energised and renewed. 

Is two hours all it takes?

Why did I not give this time to myself sooner?

I was so caught up in all of life’s distractions that I’d forgotten to pay attention to myself. 

To finish off the day of rest, I did something I haven’t done in a while. I cooked for myself and no one else. 

I made one of my favourites – my mother’s black eyed peas with mushrooms. It’s comfort food that’s healthy, packed with flavours and finger licking good. 

To hell with cutlery. God’s fork is the way to go. 

I woke up on Sunday morning well-rested. I reached out for my phone to check the time. It was 8am. Reenergised and renewed, I felt ready to take on the world once more.

Have a good week ahead. I know I will. 

2 thoughts on “Me First

  1. Loved the article. I couldn’t agree more: if you don’t care about yourself, who will? If you don’t care about yourself, how can you care about others?


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