When Your Body Tells You to Slow Down


Do you ever feel like you are doing too much?

Your wheels are spinning faster and faster — family life, professional life, all of it.

Then BAM! Your body tells you to slow down.

Burning at Both Ends

The new school year had just started. All three of my boys had birthdays within the same three-week period. We had back-to-back house guests. The kids were sick. I was preparing for a big change at work and I was an integral part of the implementation team.

I had put my needs on the back burner.

I wasn’t waking up to exercise in the mornings, because I felt exhausted. I was snacking more often than usual and looking to sugar and carbs for quick pick-me-ups. I was no longer meditating or journaling because I claimed I didn’t have time. And I was spending less time outside feeling the sun on my skin and connecting to nature.

Honestly, I didn’t realize how badly off I was. I kept trudging along, making sure everything in my life ran like a well-oiled machine. Nothing had fallen through the cracks and I was not feeling that bad.

“There is always a price to pay when you don’t listen to your messenger.”


It Started With a Cold

The little plague-bringers that call me Mom sure like to share. I usually shake my sniffles in a few days, but this time it kept getting worse. “It must just be all the new school germs that got me this time,” I thought to myself. But I didn’t slow down.

Then I started getting more frequent headaches and feeling utterly exhausted by the time the kids went to bed. But I still kept going without skipping a beat.

Your body tells you to slow down and rest.Then It Happened . . .

I was picking my (hefty) 1-year-old off the ground and BOOM — I threw my back out.

The pain took my breath away. I dropped to my knees in agony as I cradled my crying baby while trying not to cry myself. Every step was painful and going up the stairs, forget about it.

I had injured my back before, but this time was different. It was debilitating. My body had tried telling me to slow down in more subtle ways and I clearly wasn’t listening. Now it was screaming at me to STOP!

I no longer had a choice in the matter. I had to slow down. I had to take time to care for myself.

The nuanced chores that kept me busy during every down moment at home had to stop. I had to ask for more help from my husband and our Au Pair with daily tasks like cooking and laundry.

I had to alternate heat and ice on my back throughout the day at work. I used that time to take breaths, break away from my computer, and gently move my body . . . instead of the usual — parking my buns in a chair for 8+ hours every day.

I had to give my body what it needed: rest.

We had a family camping trip planned in the North Carolina mountains a couple of weeks after my injury. It took until the end of that trip for me to feel back to normal. Those five days in the mountain air, sunshine, nature, and spending quality time with my family helped me to heal and remind me of what was most important.

Why Did It Take an Injury?

It is so easy to let your daily life take over, to let your to-do list get so long that you start taking other things off the list. Unfortunately for me, I took the most important things off the list first. I had let my self-care become an afterthought. By doing so, not only was I jeopardizing my own health, but I wasn’t showing up for any aspect of my life as the best version of me.

But why? Why did I forget to put myself first (yet again)? And humor me by sharing that I am not the only one to let this happen!

My body was giving me signals for over a month but I refused to listen. I kept telling myself I didn’t have the time. “After the boys’ birthday parties, I will have more time . . . After I hit this deadline at work, I will have more time . . . After our guests leave, I will have more time.”

But the truth is, we never actually get more time, we just prioritize it differently. We need to stop focusing on reaching the goal of finding peace and happiness, and instead seek out peace and happiness right now!

Hurting my back was less than ideal, but it was the wake-up call I needed to start putting myself first again.