This week has been more than tiring.

I admit, I’m one of those people who enjoys a busy schedule. I want to see progress. I yearn to check off the to-dos. I’m not comfortable sitting idle. If there’s extra time in the day, I want a job to do. I’m a worker and always have been.

But some weeks, it’s possible for me to take it to the extreme.

From sunup to nearly midnight every day, I’m usually ticking away at something on my task sheet. I’m making calls, completing projects, meeting with clients, interviewing folks over the phone, writing, editing, selling and so on. Some of these things are imminent, others are five years in the making.

But I do not lament my days. My work is my joy and my side hobbies are very often passion projects.

When people ask me what I do for fun, when I have time for fun, I usually respond, “building things.”

And I don’t mean with a hammer and nails.

But this week, it occurred to me how tired I was. It was a different kind of tired, sustaining and bothersome. It was getting in the way.

So after a few days of feeling the strange tired, I stopped for a few moments to think, “Why am I extra tired this week and what do I need to do about this?”

You see, for the past few years, I’ve been learning to read the cues of my body. I no longer wait for illness to show up because I’ve pushed myself too hard. These days, I’m learning to listen.

If I’m stressed or feeling an anxiety hive attack coming on, I slow down. I meditate and take time to get exercise and sunlight. The combo of these three things are very often the cure to many days of feeling off or underproductive.

If I’m craving salad and fresh fruit, or I’m hungry at weird times during the day, I stop to think about what nutrition I may be missing, and quickly try to supplement.

And on those days I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ve allowed myself the power to say, “No.”

Taking a step back from the task list, at times, is more effective than popping two Aleve.

This week, as I realized I was running on fumes and sleeping a little less than normal, I stopped to take inventory of what was going on.

Was I busier than normal? No. Was I overly stressed about something? No.

So what was it?

After several days, I realized, it was my body telling me I needed to turn off my mind. What I was craving was silence.

A few months ago, I purposely integrated silence into my day and observed how quickly peace of mind became palpable and healing. It enabled productivity and clarity of thought. It quieted my mind and allowed me to declutter my thoughts. There was silence in my mind because there was silence in my presence.

When I went back to the regularly scheduled task list, I stopped making silence a part of the routine.

And like any good addict, silence became another thing I didn’t have time for and it didn’t take long for me to fall off the wagon.

That decision created a buildup of mind clutter, which eventually brought on the excessive fatigue. When your mind runs constantly and there’s no closing of the thought loops, bodily fatigue creeps up as an alarm system as if to say, “Calm down, shut down and take a breath.”

So today, I made sure to spend time in silence. I kept working, of course, but at least I’m listening to the cues.

I also got to check off. “One hour of silence” on my to-do list.

Jennifer Preyss-Mathlouthi is a thought leader on religion trends and global issues. Email her at jlpreyss@vicad.com or follow her on Twitter @jenniferpreyss or jenniferpreyss.work.

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