The Woodcutter

This morning I woke up tired. As a working mother of two, I’ve figured out a way to function, but it wasn’t always that way. When I went back to work after my second daughter was born I was so tired I didn’t know how I would make it through each day.

That’s when remembered a story that my mentor, Thea Elijah, told me about a man who saved her life. The man was a patient who came in experiencing pain and fatigue.  He lived in the woods, and spent hours each day chopping wood for his family. One of her suggestions: get more rest. Easier said than done, right?!

Months later, the man came back for a follow up looking much better. “You must have followed my advice and taken a rest from all that chopping wood”, she said. He told her that he HAD learned to get rest WHILE he was chopping wood.

The idea that you can “rest while you work” saved my mentor years later when she was going through a period of intense fatigue after the birth of her child… And it has saved me too. If the woodsman could rest while engaging in heavy labor, surely I could find a way to work in an office after a night of interrupted sleep.

The ability to rest while you work can be vital for getting through stressful periods, and is particularly important if you are chronically ill. It takes practice and may feel fruitless when faced with an overwhelming workload.  Luckily, you don’t have to do it perfectly for it be helpful… Even transformative.

Here are some tips to help you rest while work:

  1. Be gentle with yourself: This too shall pass, and you are coping with A LOT right now.
  2. Give yourself permission to just do ‘good enough’: We are usually our toughest critics. This is the time to ignore the critic and just do your best.
  3. Lean into spiritual practice: This will help you let go, accept where you are, and find the sweetness in it. It’s no easy task, but even doing a little bit can go a long way. Many different spiritual practices can help you drop out of fatigue-driven anxiety and self judgment. I find the Sufi practice of remembrance very helpful. Click here to listen to guided remembrance meditation.
  4. Get help: Find a practitioner who can help you better understand the root of your problem, and guide you back to health.

Here’s to you and your health!

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