It begins like a quiet whisper of compromise. Which is nice, we are taught that compromise is nice. It’s the right thing to do. It might be having pasta for dinner when you really wanted sushi or covering that class when you had already made plans. And then you do it again. And then you do it again. The slow burn continues, taking on that extra work assignment you don’t have time for. Skipping a workout because you have too much to do. And then you do it again. Your sleep becomes compromised, tossing and turning your to do list over and over in your head. When is your next day off? You haven’t had time to schedule one in – it’s Sunday, three weeks from now. Your right hip is acting up again, I’m sure I can just ice it, it will be fine you say, no time to see the chiropractor. Anyways tonight is my double and there is no way I’ll get a sub now. Tossing and turning, an extra coffee, an argument over who’s turn it was to clean the bathroom. Why did I make plans with my sister, I love her but I’m exhausted, she won’t mind if I cancel.. again. Oh no, am I getting sick – I don’t have time to be sick.
If this at all sounds familiar, stop now. Stop immediately and listen. The slow burn is exactly this, it is how slowly we let our life take over until we are completely disconnected from our self and those we love the most. Read the above again, but this time as if your best friend wrote it and notice how it’s different. This is how the slow burn sneaks in and gets you. It’s tied to your ego mind. It wants you to feel separate and alone. There is a very interesting aspect about how we handle stress. When we experience times of high stress, in particular times of chronic stress, our stress receptors get set a little higher. This may seem at the time like a good thing because essentially our nervous system has adjusted to be able to do a little more with less. A little less sleep, maybe going a little longer without food, teaching that extra class that day etc.. Every time we go through this without the opportunity to completely reset as in a proper vacation (not one day off) our system then resets a little higher again. Doing even more with less. This pattern will continue because we are hard wired for survival. On a foundational level our body will do whatever it needs to survive until it can’t and then it will start to send you warning signals. A little more with less, a little more with less until we reach burnout: depression, headaches, lowered immunity or bigger – adrenal fatigue or even cancer.
But listen, how much power can the slow burn have when it is – SLOW. We can take our power back by simply pausing first and looking at the big picture before taking things on. By taking time to continuously re-evaluate our daily life, jobs and relationships to make sure they are best serving us. Yoga, meditation and journaling can all be extremely helpful here to help us see patterns. And you should compromise with those you love and do them favours, because they are doing the same with you too. And you should always spend time with the people you love no matter how tired you are, and there is never a reason to have an argument over who needs to clean the bathroom. Self-care is not selfish, and neither is taking a regular day off. For the sake of your health, mental wellness and happiness please pause and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.