When you’re tired life isn’t much fun. You feel lousy and you don’t get very much accomplished. The worst part is, you don’t have the energy to do anything about your situation. You’ve run out of fuel and there’s no filling station in sight.
Thank God I don’t have many days like that, but when I do, I’ve learned to ease off. I stop and take a break. I take time to let my body and mind heal itself. I then get some exercise and generally I feel my energy returning.
People on a mission are good at ignoring their body’s signals — much of their lives is spent training their minds to be more efficient and productive, and in the process ignore the warning signs of fatigue. Fatigue is not to be ignored. Tiredness is a warning sign that you have not been properly maintaining your body.
What happens next is we end up in burnout because we have inevitably run out of fuel. This happens when our mission is a higher priority than our maintenance. Listen to your body — your long-term health and sanity depend on it.
Most people think they’re tired because they don’t rest enough. However, activity is the thing that energizes us provided our bodies have been properly maintained. A poorly maintained body likely needs a pit stop for refueling and perhaps repairs (healing) before it can be once again energized and activated.
Most people don’t rest enough. It’s not as high a priority as other things: waking early, getting things done, attending meetings, being sucked into the world of online connections, reading, and television. It is rest that allows the healing cycle to begin, so we can get active and finally have our energy return.
Sometimes chronic fatigue can be a sign of more serious problems. It could be a sign of depression or other medical issues. If it’s a continuing problem, I’d recommend getting checked out, just in case.
If you’re too tired to do anything else, take a nap if at all possible. If you can’t take a nap, at the very least disconnect from digital devices. Computers and smartphones are powerful tools, but being on them for too long is tiring.
Disconnect. Go outside. Take a walk. Cancel an appointment or two if you can. Stretch. Get someone to massage your shoulders. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Breathe deeply.
These are small things you can do right away, and they will help you become more rested.
Here’s a list of things that will help you energize your life:
1. Go to bed earlier. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours of sleep, you’re probably getting too little. The key is to get at least 2 hours of sleep before midnight. Go to bed earlier — the internet will be fine without you for a few hours. Most people work 9-5, I prefer to sleep 9-5.
2. Take stretch breaks. Sitting too long at the computer drains your energy. Get up and stretch every 20-25 minutes. Walk around for a minute or so. Move in any way you want — do push-ups, squats, jump up and down. Get the blood circulating any way you can.
3. Exercise regularly. You don’t need me to tell you to exercise, I’m sure. But it’s amazing how even a little exercise can help you to feel more energized throughout the day. A serious workout session can leave you exhausted — in which case you should rest — but shorter workouts leave you just a little physically tired, but mentally you feel amazing.
4. Ease off the caffeine. If you go cold turkey with caffeine you’ll have even less energy. But cutting back a little at a time, while doing some of the things mentioned here, won’t be bad. And you’ll skip the afternoon withdrawal, which can ruin half your day. If you feel tired from drinking less caffeine take a short nap.
5. Be more balanced. Most people believe they are tired from doing too many things. However, as I say in my book “Five F-Word That Will Energize Your Life“, there may be too many things you are not doing. Some things you may need to begin doing are: drink more water, rest after lunch, exercise at least 3 times a week, take a break from your computer every 20-25 minutes. You get the idea.
6. Focus on one task at a time. While most people think they are multi-tasking, in truth that’s mental juggling. And there’s only so much you can do in a day. Try doing one thing at a time and being fully present while doing that task. It’s less tiring mentally, and it can make anything you do more enjoyable. Life is less tiring when you single-task.
7. Drink up. Dehydration is actually a huge factor that most people don’t realize is making them tired. Drink water throughout the day. You don’t really need 8 glasses of water (we get some in food and other drinks), but drinking more water doesn’t hurt. If your pee isn’t a light yellow, or even clear in color, you’re not very well hydrated.
8. Freshen up. Sometimes a quick cold shower in the afternoon or evening can be refreshing. Wash your face. You’ll feel like a ‘new woman’, as my brother Dave says.
9. Work on something you’re excited about. If you’re passionate about your work, you’ll feel energized. If you don’t really care about your work, it will be a drag and it will feel like it drains the energy out of you.
10. Back off on the booze. If you want to have some energy left in you after your evening meal you may need to cut out that second glass of wine with dinner.
Ben Kubassek is an international expert on social entrepreneurship, author, and speaker. He’s on a mission to help young people in developing countries launch their own businesses in order to create jobs and bring transformation to their communities.
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