Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rest Days for Your Mind

I recently had an experience that reminded me of the importance of a little self-pampering.  You can find the story here, but here’s the relevant part: a few days house-sitting that were supposed to be days of solitude turned into chat-fests and non-stop mental stimulation.  Now, I am both extremely introverted and highly sensitive.  My brain gets overloaded really quickly with stimuli – from conversation to noise to even smells.  For four straight days, I was interrupted constantly both by the dog at this house and by their cleaning lady, and by the end of it, I felt so incredibly haggard.

My brain ceased to function normally.  The connections it normally makes between thoughts were flickering out before they were even fully-formed.  I had a headache for a solid day afterwards.

There was a time when I would have been impatient with myself about this.  I would have felt that I was not being good enough.  I would have felt guilty for wanting alone time.  I only recently have embraced my introversion as perfectly normal, even healthy and beautiful.  My introversion and sensitivity are what make me a good writer and a good scientist.  They allow me to see things in the world that others might not.  They allow me to be deeply affected by stories, by music, by the arts, and by the people I meet.  But I have to understand that I need to recharge by being alone, and that is perfectly okay.

This is all part of the larger picture of health. Be good to your mind.  Give your mind rest days.  You can’t just feed yourself good food, you need to feed yourself good thoughts, too.  And if recharging for you means shutting yourself away with a good book or a cup of tea and embracing the bliss and restoration of solitude, then give yourself permission to do just that.

And if you’re someone who needs to spend time with people to recharge, then don’t hesitate to ask the people who are important to you to be with you.  We all need our support systems and our personal remedies.  And the only way we will grow as people is if we learn to be good to ourselves and to others.

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