I used to call them do-nothing days. Or resting days. Or dead days. Lately I’ve been calling them Recovery Days. Because that’s what they are. I’m not doing nothing, I’m recovering!
Our culture says that a day of watching tv when you should be buying groceries and cleaning and going to a job and and and…. is lazy. I say that if you have a chronic illness, sometimes it’s necessary.
I had a recovery day yesterday. I could have pushed myself. I had a long list of things to do. If I’d pushed myself I might have been able to get a couple of things done. But I wouldn’t have gotten far on that list, and I would have done things badly. Then I’d have felt lousy today and I’d have barely gotten anything done at all. Sound familiar?
I used to push myself. At the time it seemed like a good idea. Now I know that pushing myself too much just means I’ll eventually hit the wall and I won’t be able to do anything at all.
So instead I took a Recovery Day. I didn’t leave the apartment. I read. I watched tv. I heated up leftovers for meals. That was it.
And today I felt better! I was able to go out and run errands. I’m sitting in a chair and writing this now (not an easy thing!) For me, that’s a super productive day.
Sometimes my Recovery Days are predictable. I can look at my calendar right now and tell you that I’ll be taking a Recovery Day on Sunday, so that’s blocked out on my calendar. I knew I’d probably be taking one yesterday, too, but I wasn’t completely sure until around 10am. I could just feel it, and there was no doubt it’s what I needed.
I used to take Recovery Days 3-5 days per week. If I left the house for an hour, the next day would be a Recovery Day. These days I’m feeling better and I only need them 1-2 times per week – yay! Of course, even now I have bad weeks, too. Sometimes a Recovery Day means spending all day in pajamas and doing nothing but watching tv. Sometimes it’s multiple days of that. Yesterday I felt better and was able to read a novel for a while. All that really matters, though, is that I gave my body the rest that it needed, in the form that it needed.
I know I’m lucky. I don’t have children or anyone else to take care of. I’m not working (though that’s not exactly a good thing.) So I’m able to spend an entire day indoors. I’m able to rest when I need to. But there are other things I should do on my Recovery Days that I can’t. I accommodate myself the best that I can. That’s all any of us can do.
You might have noticed that I’ve been capitalizing Recovery Day. That’s because it’s IMPORTANT! I think we don’t give ourselves enough credit for how hard these days are. We let culture pressure us into thinking we’re not doing enough when in reality we’re doing so much. Sometimes, it’s all we can do to get through these days. I’d rather go to the gym for 4 hours than need some of these Recovery Days. But I don’t have a choice, and I accept that (but it took me many years to finally accept it.)
How do you feel about your Recovery Days? Are you willing to rest when your body needs it? What do you do? How do you handle it? Please let me know in the comments so we can learn from each other!
You’re right, sometimes we need Recovery Days. We owe it to ourselves to be kind. 🙂
Yes! This is something I’m trying to teach myself now, and mostly just because my body has completely thrown in the towel and forced me to do it. I’m still at the stage of ‘go out for an hour and need days to recover’, but I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I’m learning to say no more often. I’m learning to listen to my body. Most importantly, I’m learning to find balance. Recovery days are so important. I like your idea of planning them in advance and blocking out time in your calendar for them – I think it’s so important, even as we start doing better and improving. Thanks for the reminder 😊
I’m glad to hear you’re getting the hang of it, IlluminatingKate! Yes, it’s definitely a learning experience. Good luck finding your balance!
I have at least one Recovery Day each week as well. Most the time it’s spent on the couch watching repeats of cartoons I used to watch as a child. Occasionally it will include reading or doing gentle stretches outside in the garden.
During my worst times, I turn to old movies that I loved as a child. There’s just something about a return to that childhood joy, isn’t there? 🙂
so difficult to do and I am getting better. I book them into my calendar. I also book ‘no meeting’ days into my calendar, so I am working, but I am not going out of the house to meet with clients.
I’m not so good at taking unscheduled ones, but I do need to work on that and get better at that too
It sounds like you’re already doing a great job, Knowing! The unscheduled ones are really tough, but you’re on the right track, so I’m sure you’ll get it figured it out soon 🙂
I don’t allow myself recovery days as often as I should. I still feel tremendously guilty (my own doing of course, both Mr. Mango and even the kids are incredibly understanding) for not doing more or not meeting super mom standards. Once in a while I’ll have dead days (Mr. Mango coined the term) where I spend most of the day stuck in bed. Usually they come after a few days of pushing too hard. I’ve gotten better at task managing and resting longer in between, but I don’t think it’s enough. Thank you for your post, it really is true that we need to schedule recovery days in and treat them as just as important as anything else on the ‘to do’ list.
It’s great that your family is so supportive – maybe they could even help you schedule your recovery days! I’ve found that scheduled recovery days help me avoid unscheduled dead days (or at least, lessen them a lot!) Good luck, Ms. Mango!
I’ve been working on getting balance in my days instead of being on a rollercoaster. I have a baseline of what I can do and am working to increase it without aftereffects. Of course there are things which come out of nowhere – I am having huge problems with my teeth and after two days treatment it wiped me out for a while. I regularly have recovery days after an event. I want to stay as balanced as possible.
I’m sorry to hear you’re having teeth problems Lorna! I hope that’s all fixed for now. Yeah, those unexpected things can really be a problem, but it sounds like you’re doing well overall – yay!
Reblogged this on Seachy Waffles On, Chronic Pain is a game changer and commented:
Recovery Days a vital part of pacing, a guilty feeling of skiving family tasks and household chores, my body needs them, my brain needs them and if I do not take them my body crashes, it spasms, it sends me to cloud cuckoo land, I fall over and I get no choice but to rest
[…] having a good day. But that turned into several good days. And then a good week. I used to have 3-5 recovery days per week at my worst. As I improved that number went down. But lately I noticed that I was having […]