“If you listen to your body when it whispers, you won’t have to hear it scream.” – Cherokee Proverb
When you hit a point of overworking, it is time to take a break. In our culture, we tend to ignore physical or emotional signals that it is time to shut down the laptop, and we keep pushing on (or take a pill to numb the pain telling us to ease up). The result is usually greater stress, irritability, strained relationships, and often isolation.
In Japan, employees occasionally work themselves to death. It’s called Karoshi, which literally translates to “death by overwork.”
Your body always alerts you when you are about to step past the line of well-being, or already have. Each of us has a unique body part or group of body parts that signals stress as soon as it comes on. Some people get a headache; others indigestion, neck pain, a tight chest, a cough, allergy flare-up, cold, flue, or an upset tummy. While you may be able to treat these symptoms with medicine, the ailment needs to be addressed at the core rather than overridden. Your body is giving you a signal to step back and take care of yourself. If you try to deny or mask the symptom, you are shooting the messenger carrying a most helpful message!
While many of us have been taught to regard the body as our enemy and subdue it, it is really our best friend, always seeking to help us maintain or return to our natural state of well-being. Too much work – or too much of anything – throws our system off balance.
Body aches, a high fever, and fatigue are life’s way of telling you that you have gotten off balance, and it is time to reclaim equilibrium. You do not have to quit what you are doing forever, just take whatever time you need to return to a steady state. From that space, you will feel better and accomplish far more than you would have if you just kept pushing yourself.
Pay close attention to your body’s signals. It teaches you how to feel good. Thank it for its wisdom and listen to its messages!