Enjoy the Silence

11:43 PM

Not only have I really been into Depeche Mode lately, but I've also been into learning to turn off the world. As I may have mentioned before, endometriosis released my hidden introvert and toned down my need to constantly be surrounded by excitement. But to be more accurate, my illness has taught me to make time to shut everything out and focus on myself for a bit.
I've learned to say no to excess commitments and to manage my physical energy, but maintaining my emotional well-being and mental energy is still sometimes a struggle. When you have a chronic illness, it can be a little daunting to look at everything you have to do to manage your health or to think about what might be right around the corner with your condition.

But even if you don't have a chronic condition, it's overwhelming for anyone to spend too much time thinking about what they should be doing or should be concerned about. 

I read the news and Twitter a lot, and while I love that it connects me to other communities and keep me up-to-date on what's happening in the world, it can be way too much sometimes. The constant stream of "Care about this. Eat this. Wear that. Go here. Do this. Why aren't you doing that already? Why aren't you changing right now?" is enough to make someone's head explode.

So I choose certain moments to shut out everyone and everything. When I'm at the gym, I don't pick up my phone, unless it's very important. I don't turn on social media, and I don't watch the news. I turn on something mindless on the elliptical's little TV screen, and I don't say a word until I leave the building.

That also goes for reading. I put up blinders and absorb myself in a book, completely blind to whatever is happening around me. And when I'm having a flare-up, I limit my social interactions to my husband and dog. I don't answer the phone (unless it's my mom duhh), and I don't hold Facebook conversations.

In those moments, it's time for me.

So it's not entirely "silence," but in a noisy world, it's a nice step up. It teaches me to focus on a moment, rather than letting my mind veer into a thousand directions, and to take care of my needs for that space in time.

It's a little thing, but it makes a big difference for those days when I really, really need to focus inward. Days when I need to make choices in my care or days when I need to advocate for myself. Or days when I feel like complete crap and nothing seems to be working out.

Sometimes after I come home from work, I'm mentally drained just from making decisions all day. Add that to the physical fatigue and pain I might be feeling from endometriosis. My husband will ask something innocuous like where I'd like to go eat, and I'll sigh heavily and say, "I can't make anymore decisions today. I'm done. I have made at least a thousand decisions on my own. You pick."

So when my work day is over, and after I've had time to be social and connect with the world, I pull the plug. For at least one hour every day, it's totally time for me.

This wasn't a natural thing for me to start doing. Some of you reading this might be saying, "Uhhh yeah, all of this is obvious." But as I've made clear in previous blog posts, I'm not a person who self-cares easily. I'm a "Everyone chill out. I've got this." type of person. I'm a "Give me the ball! Put me in, Coach!" type of person.

Taking time out to recharge is necessary for anyone, but if you have a chronic illness, it moves up to a higher and more frequent priority.

I once confused this type of resting or shutting out as "lazy" or "selfish." But I later realized the lazy and selfish thing to do would be to ignore my needs, burn myself out and then not be able to meet my obligations later. Or not have the energy to call up a friend who needs me. Or be in too much pain to enjoy time with others later.

Today, I challenge you to shut out the world, even for just a little bit. Take time for yourself and yourself only. If you want to one-up me and experience actual silence, just sit in a quiet room and push anything distracting out of your mind.

It sounds cliche and simple and like something Taylor Swift told you to do. But I promise it'll make a world of a difference.

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