In my work with clients I regularly assess what they are doing to refuel and maintain their mind, body, spirit, relationship with self, and relationship with others in the midst of the chaos and challenges they are navigating. You may know this act as self-care, but I like the terms refuel and maintain as they speak in a more active way to me. Regardless what you call it, these acts are essential.
My first car was a two door red hatchback Mercury Lynx (similar to this picture I found on the interwebs). It was red with a burgundy interior. I was never fond of the car but it was free to me and got me from point A to point B – well, except my junior prom. I was very particular at keeping the outside and inside clean, but I learned taking care of th motor is also important. Woops. For a few weeks before prom, I regularly heard a “clacking” noise as I accelerated. Not being a person with much knowledge of car engines, I personally thought the sound was pretty cool. It reminded me being a kid and riding a bike with playing cards in the spokes to sound like a truck. Well, long story short, I discovered the clacking was due to no oil in the engine and, while driving on Interstate 40 in the middle of Amarillo to pick up my prom date, the car just shut down – ON THE INTERSTATE. By the grace of my higher power, I was near an exit and was able to safely coast down an exit ramp into a 7-11 convenience store. I’ll spare you (myself) the other embarrassing details that happened after that but that car never drove again. That engine locked up and there was no looking back.
Our brains and bodies can do the same when we run them dry and don’t maintain them. If we push them too far, they shut down and its hard (sometimes feeling impossible) to regain traction and move forward. So, with my clients, I urge them to take a dedicated and proactive 5 minutes a day, even (and especially) in the midst of chaos, to breathe and refuel. I find 5 minutes a day of proactive maintenance can be more powerful than an hour of rest when we collapse from running ourselves dry.
Whatever you’re navigating whether it be grief and loss, LGBTQIA+, gender identity, life transitions, depression, anxiety, career concerns, or just surviving, take 5 to refuel each day. You’ll thank yourself for it and you’ll be less likely to shut down on the interstate.
What refuels you? How do you respond when you hear your body clacking? What do you do proactively to take care of yourself?