On Sickness

I got sick this weekend. Fever, chills, aches, and a nose so stuffy it felt impossible to breathe. I got my classes covered for the next two days and made a commitment: If I was going to be stuck at home, feeling sick, I might as well learn something from it.

So, I did.

I explored what it was like to spend what little energy I had on escaping into the depths of my phone, mindlessly scrolling for hours on end. I could genuinely feel this was hindering my healing process because I was not allowing myself to feel at all. I was running away from the discomfort of being sick, and in the process, I avoided all the things I knew deep down would make me feel better, too: Showering, drinking electrolytes, eating light meals, resting, and reading. And to be completely honest, total inactivity is usually how I “take care of myself” when I am not feeling well.

When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I decided to explore something else. I chose to lie on the floor in a passive stretching pose, wrapped up in a massive blanket, and I listened to ambient music. I played with my various crystals, holding each one and feeling the sensations that came up with each. I changed the color of my mood light to see how it affected me. I took a steaming hot shower, followed by an ice cold one...Twice. I braided and un-braided my hair. I drank tons of water and, when my appetite returned, I made myself one of my favorite meals.

In the second exploration, I stopped treating myself as “sick” and started being kind to myself. I said nice things to my body, the sensations I felt, and all the places I was hurting. I practiced acceptance. I listened to the thoughts and emotions that ebbed and flowed through me, and I assured myself that this experience has a purpose. Sickness is temporary, and it is all for a reason.

For the first time in a long while, I did not feel guilty for not doing enough and being enough those two days. I believed with my whole heart that I was doing my absolute best. In fact, I felt like the entire experience was worth celebrating.

To be honest, I could feel healing happening within me, simply because I allowed myself to acknowledge and appreciate that I felt discomfort in the first place. I am convinced that had I continued down the rabbit hole of screens and social media, I would still feel as awful as I did the first night. And I would have missed out on such a beautiful experience: This depth of feeling, an appreciation for me. Not an appreciation for the things I do or like or speak about, but the whole of me. The bigger me.

I do not particularly enjoy feeling sick, and I took this as an excuse to practice kindness. I deeply appreciate the things I saw, felt, and experienced as a result. I got to witness the impact deep self-love has on the healing process, and felt living proof that I have the ability to heal myself from the inside out.

Now I know, first-hand: Sometimes, slowing down and showing love is really all it takes to heal.

Aubrey Klein