Edna St. Vincent Millay - 1892-1950
My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!
Given that it is April, and National Poetry Month, I thought it apropos to begin this entry about physical and mental recovery with a poem about burning the candle at both ends. This of course approaches the subject with a tongue in cheek view of the situation. However, burning the candle at both ends for long periods of time is never a good idea. We need time to relax and recover, either from physical or mental exertion. Often a key indication of the need for recovery is exhaustion or a feeling of being overwhelmed.
What are some of the ways this feeling of being overwhelmed, of burning the candle at both ends and needing a break, can manifest? We can become impatient, and snappish, and harsh, and less pleasant to be around.
I found that a huge cue for me that I am in need of taking a step back at work is when I feel the need to smoke a cigarette even though I quit some years ago. In discussions with others, I realized that this desire to smoke is actually a desire to take a break, breathe, and regroup in a quiet space for a few moments. All things that can be accomplished without the addition of the addictive nicotine.
So how do we recover or take breaks in ways that are beneficial to us? Think about things you enjoy and that nourish your spirit. I personally find a nice warm bath with rosewater and Epsom salts at the end of a long day is a good panacea for most of what the world throws at me, both physical and mental. For some people it may be getting a massage, or for some it may be journaling. It is important to carve out a little bit of me time in every day, especially if you tend to be one who burns the candle at both ends most or much of the time. It is in the quiet spaces where we can listen to our soul and know what we really want and need. And in order to give to others we need to make sure we are filled by making time to renew through rest and recovery. You cannot pour from an empty vessel.
And though you may bask in the light of a candle burning at both ends, please try not to burn the house down…
by Julie Morse