This is Max. He is an 11-year-old Yorkshire terrier. And sometimes he's wiser than I am. Max has a very sensitive stomach. Every couple of weeks or so, he wakes up not feeling so hot. Instead of going about his day, he chooses to sleep in, stays closer to me, asks for a little more cuddles and skips breakfast for the morning. Usually, by about 2 or 3 PM his stomach feels better and he's his normal energetic and happy self. He's always smart enough to give his body and himself time to rest so that he feels better.
Often times, I'm not quite as wise. If I get up not feeling well, I look at my to-do list and schedule for the day, then slowly push forward trying to figure out how to fit little moments of self-care in between classes, meetings and phone calls. Rarely do I take a sick day or ever cancel anything. Even if it's the weekend and I don't have any plans I still feel like I have to be productive.
But yesterday I took a page from the Book of Max. Knowing my own body rhythms, the fact that I've been burning the candle at both ends and that my back injury was acting up, I knew I was only setting myself up for further suffering.
So I took a self-care day. A day to only do exactly what I wanted for only the length of time that I wanted to do it. The moment I wasn't enjoying it anymore or it didn't feel right I stopped. This didn't mean that I indulged in chocolate chip cookies and wine (although sometimes that's necessary too). But I did stay in my pajamas all day, do some gentle exercises for my back, take a nap, meditate and feed myself food that nurtured both my belly and my soul.
As night fell, I realized that in between all that I still managed to get a few things done, but I wasn't feeling overwhelmed or tired or drained. Most importantly I was happy. And happiness is productive.