Do You Need a Power Up?

"Mom, you have to rest!"

I had been playing an interactive video game with my two sons, at their request. Usually, I discourage a lot of games on electronic devices (which I refer to as brain-rotting) and I encourage time in nature, but on this day I had agreed to join them in their play. In the game, our three characters had to work cooperatively to solve puzzles and find our way further on the path.

It's my personality to throw myself whole-heartedly into whatever I do, so I made my character work tirelessly to fight off little creatures and gather treasure along the way. Suddenly, I realized that my character was dragging and unable to swing her little sword. I thought something was wrong with my machine, until my son said, "Mom, stand still. You have to rest. Your character needs to power up. You can't just go and go and go, without resting!"

It hit me so unexpectely! What a powerful real-life paralell! Yes, we cannot work and give and work and give without resting. I never imagined that a video game could teach the concept of self-care, but that's preceisely what it was doing, as I heard it from my son's mouth.

In the game, I learned to pay attention to a little status bar that showed how filled or how depleted I was. I knew to slow down and rest as the little gauge drained toward the bottom.

Wouldn't it be great if it were so clear in real life? If we each had a gage that told us to stop, to eat, to drink enough water, to exercise, or to slow down and take a deep breath and meditate? These self-care practices are crucial to our well being, especially in stressful times. We can't keep trudging through life and expect to be happy when we are depleted, drained and exhausted. You can't pour from an empty cup, and as they say at the beginning of every flight on every airline, put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before helping others.

It's a simple concept, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Our lives are busy and our time feels limited. Perhaps the reminder of life in a video game can be helpful. There is always enough - enough time to work toward gathering what you need, enough energy to do what you must (IF you take time to rest), and enough love and connection to make you smile, when you're working with others in your life toward a common goal (as a family, as friends, as a community).

As we move into this holiday season, check in with yourself frequently. Do you need more sleep? More exercise? More stillness and meditation? More time with loved ones? More water and healthy food? 

Do you need a power up?