Reflections on a Relapse

This isn’t another book review as promised. I’m writing this on the day before my holiday and I haven’t got done what I’d hoped to get done by now. Mainly because I’ve not been doing very well for the last 3 weeks, I’ve been experiencing a bit of a relapse. I’ve decided the book review is beyond me at this stage so it will be easier to share my reflections on what may have caused my relapse. I know I’ve broken at least 3 of my ME/CFS survival rules.
The first rule I broke was about being assertive about saying no to extra demands. It was the end of the financial year so everyone at my work place was rushing to use their holiday allowance and there was also the annual stock taking to be done. My standard 3 short shifts a week don’t quite bring in enough money so I’ve let my boss know that if at all possible I’d like to do 4 shifts a week. But for the last two weeks of the year I ended up saying yes to 5. As I’m still relatively new to this job I didn’t want to say no.  I feared I wouldn’t be asked again to do the extra I need financially, so I said yes to something that I knew was too much for me. I suppose I was also thinking about my holiday and having enough spending money. I also knew that the end was in sight. The extra work would stop at the end of March but I underestimated just how long it would take me to recover. There are many lessons in life we often have to learn more than once. This reminded me that we have to prioritise our health needs and be able to say no when asked to do more than we know we can manage!
The other two survival rules that I broke were to do with my writing and are quite closely linked. I’m usually very careful about not setting a schedule for my goals, I do what I can when I feel like it and I have come to learn that things do actually get done that way. This reflects the wisdom of my favourite philosophers Lao Tse’s – ‘do nothing and nothing shall remain undone’ and Deepak Chopras ‘law of least effort’ which I’m sure I’ll write more about another day. However, because everything was going so well with writing my book proposal I got it into my head that it would be nice to get it done before I went on holiday. Breaking this scheduling rule then lead to me breaking another: avoid the need to complete tasks in one sitting. My previously healthy working style of doing a bit then changing activity then doing a bit more, was replaced by a focus to finish what I was doing. I regularly found that I’d spent an hour and a half or more at my computer without having taken a break  and this is far too long! In fact I’m going to take a break now…
… It didn’t help that I was also still very new to blogging. As well as trying to complete my book proposal I was also trying to work out how to get my blog noticed. (To be honest I still am!) This also kept me at my computer for long sessions without a break. I took on a new social networking tool in an attempt to get more exposure, completely forgetting how much energy it takes to learn something new. In fact that’s a 4thsurvival rule I broke. (You can now follow me on twitter but not whilst I’m on holiday!)
All in all, it’s not surprising that I’ve been struggling. I’m really looking forward to getting away from it all and spending time with my friends in the wonderful Alpujarras. In fact by the time you’ve been reading this I’ll have been there a week and the wonderfully laid back andalucian attitude should have rubbed off enough to return me to my usual chilled out self!
So remember these survival rules:
Be assertive and say no to demands that are too much for you.
Don’t schedule your goals: just focus on the little step you are taking now.
Avoid becoming a task completer: if you do a little at a time it will all get done.
Take into account that learning something new takes a lot of extra energy.
Finally don’t give yourself a hard time if you fall back into old habits and have to learn things a second (or even a tenth) time around. Accept yourself as a fallible human, reflect on what you can do differently next time and then move on!

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