We go about our lives trying to reach the unreachable, taking on any opportunity that comes our way, because we all need and crave success.
What some of us forget while on that road is to take good care of ourselves: after all, if our minds and bodies are not at their best, can we really call it a success?
One morning I woke up and felt tired, more tired than I ever felt before. Has this ever happened to you? It was going to be one of those days when everything was business as usual.
I would go to work, have lunch with my parents and watch a movie with my husband in the evening. So why was I having such a hard time pulling myself out of bed?
That was the aha moment when I realized that I needed to make some drastic changes in my life and to my routine.
When you feel exhausted, it can be difficult to get excited about anything. And when this happens, it’s easy to feel confused and start to overthink: What is wrong with me? Why am I not feeling happy? Am I fulfilling my destiny?
The thought of feeling sad when, in reality, everything is okay, can be horrifying. And what’s worse, it is very often mistaken by friends and family as ungratefulness.
But we all know that overthinking rarely leads to a happy place. My advice here is to remember that you’re not alone. Many people experience what you’re going through.
And although that doesn’t make it any easier, remember that there is a way to overcome these feelings of anxiety.
The first step is realizing. Realizing that there is a problem. Realizing what the problem is. Then, there comes acceptance.
The truth is we are complex beings.
We all have goals and desires, needs and expectations. When we lose sight of the balance between keeping up with the high-speed race of life, and providing our bodies with what they actually need, we may begin to feel like something is missing.
In my case, my body was speaking to me – what was missing in my life was rest.
But I have been a hard worker my whole life and there have been countless times when I have opted for sleepless nights in order to work towards my dreams and goals.
The idea of taking a vacation or even staying away from my work for the entire weekend was very unfamiliar to me.
It turns out that I’m not alone when I say that the pressure and tension that we feel every day doesn’t end when we finish work – we carry that stress on our shoulders throughout the whole day and even take it home.
Technological devices are constantly buzzing with life, and this new “never-sleeping” world makes it difficult to rest at any point in time.
We are continuously exposed to the news, to advertisements, to social media, and more.
So there is no chance to recharge our bodies and minds; therefore, our batteries are always running low.
There are many causes of fatigue. Generally speaking, they can be divided into 3 categories:
- Lifestyle factors
- Physical health conditions
- Mental health issues.
In this article we will explore the first category, diving into some of the lifestyle factors that have impacted my energy levels and could be affecting yours too:
- Lack of physical activity,
- Lack of sleep,
- Periods of emotional stress,
- Not eating a nutritious diet.
You may be going through all of the above, or you might be experiencing only one.
Once you accept that it’s okay to feel exhausted, that you’re a human being that needs to recharge, you can move on to the next step: implementing healthy habits to live a happier life.
Here are some actions that worked for me. Perhaps they will work for you too.
Books for perspective
I, being a full-time employee with a side business of my own, never read any self-help books. One of my friends suggested a book: I wouldn’t particularly add it in the “self-help” category, but it did change my mindset.
The book by Greg McKeown called “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” taught me how to separate the essential from the unimportant, value my time and understand the real importance of sleep.
By taking the time to stop, think and evaluate everything that has been going on around me, I have managed to eliminate the things that were simply noise, hence, found peace and quiet.
The idea of saying “no” to opportunities that can change our careers and lead us towards success is hard to capture.
But when we take on too many projects, our work and our physical state start to suffer.
Think about it: if you were to give your 8 hours a day to 2 projects, you would provide better results than if you were to take on 4 projects.
One healthy habit I adopted that has proven fruitful for me, was to evaluate and give the most time and energy to what’s really essential.
Journaling for a decluttered mind
Another step I decided to take was to begin a journal. I’d like to think that the writer’s gene is in my blood, so writing down my thoughts and feelings came more naturally to me.
Besides being a therapeutic exercise, journaling also helped me organize not only my thoughts but also everything else around me, create virtual shelves for everything, and declutter my mind.
After some time of journaling, I realized that those 30 minutes of my day were exciting for me: I was resting when I was writing.
Puzzles for the kid in you
Puzzles – I used to love them when I was a kid, yet I never went near them as an adult.
One day I came home, and my husband surprised me with a roast beef dinner and Harry Potter puzzles.
I thought the idea of playing with puzzles was silly at the time, I felt tired and just wanted to lay back in front of the TV.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was that watching the news and seeing ads pop up every ten minutes was only making me more anxious and tense.
I finished the puzzle and felt relieved. The idea of turning on the TV wasn’t so appealing anymore, so I went straight to bed.
The next morning I woke up feeling more rested than I had done in the past couple of months.
By the way, puzzles are not only great for relaxing your mind, but they are also known to increase concentration and improve your memory.
Spending quality time with friends
I was going through old pictures when I realized how many I had with friends from back in the day. We were all smiling in those pictures.
I also remembered how we would meet, share stories, drink wine, and always be present.
Now, whenever we would have friends over, the conversations would end quickly, and everyone would be on their phones.
And we didn’t take any pictures together anymore.
Once I realized that I took action: picked up the phone and called some of our oldest friends.
When they came to our house, I shared my thoughts and asked them to be emotionally present throughout the whole night.
Sometimes merely communicating with people, listening to their stories, and sharing your thoughts helps soothe the soul, which then helps to take away the tension and anxiety we may be feeling.
The healthy habit of not rushing
Something else that helped me rest and feel like myself again was identifying my unhealthy habit of rushing all the time, rushing everything I did.
In the mornings I woke up and took quick showers, then ate breakfast without properly chewing, drove to the office as fast as possible, said “Hi” to the people passing by so quickly some of them didn’t even hear.
And that was just 1 hour of my day.
Realizing that I rushed everything, even my decisions, was a significant achievement for me. The things that were supposed to bring me relaxation were making me feel more anxious and tired.
Let’s look at showering, for example, water at the right temperature can calm our nerves and our minds. It’s 15 minutes of the day that we have for ourselves and should enjoy it.
Whereas I used to rush so much that I wouldn’t even find the right balance between the hot and cold water.
So instead of relaxing, I’d end up in an uncomfortable shower with a mind that wouldn’t stop thinking.
Now when I wake up, I look forward to showering.
So when you catch yourself rushing, slow down on purpose – it’ll become your new healthy habit.
Exercising for a peaceful body
I used to convince myself that I exercised simply because I had a gym membership. The fact that I hadn’t used it in 2 years didn’t seem to matter!
Somehow life goes by pretty fast, and we forget that we haven’t been to the gym in ages, yet we try telling ourselves and those around us that we’re healthy.
So one day, when I was giving my purse a good spring clean, I came across my gym membership card. It looked very new!
I tried to remember when I had used it last and realized that it had been too long to even recall. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change.
But I didn’t want to push myself too hard: by that time, I knew better. So I set a goal of going to the gym 2 days a week for 30 minutes. It wasn’t so hard to accomplish.
Once I started feeling more alive and active, I changed my goal to 3 days a week for 1 hour. And I’ve never felt better for it.
It’s easy to forget just how relaxing exercising can be. The truth is, exercise reduces our body’s stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol.
It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Healthy eating for a happier life
When we rush through life, we often forget to eat healthily. Besides unhealthy habits like not chewing enough and eating only 2 times a day with big portions, we also forget to be mindful about what we eat.
We end up taking 15-minute lunch breaks, choosing a quick sandwich rather than a proper meal, just so we can get more work done.
So start being mindful about what you eat and remember that breakfast sets you up with the energy you need to start your day well.
I make sure I take in all the needed nutrients using a nutritional calculator app called RecipeIQ. I also know that lunch is crucial: if I eat healthily during lunch, I will be more focused at work.
When it’s dinner time, I try to keep it light and simple.
Sleeping for recharge
When you’ve gotten into the bad habit of going to sleep late at night, it can be extremely difficult to train yourself otherwise.
Deciding and actually falling asleep before midnight is a challenge for many. But if you start exercising, eating healthier and avoiding heavy meals late at night, your sleep patterns are bound to improve.
So take good care of your body and your body will take good care of you! If you aim to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night, you’ll start to feel more energized, happier, and healthier.
When embarking upon your journey towards living a healthier lifestyle, remember that the most important thing is to “protect the asset,” which is you.
And as McKeown said, by “protecting the asset,” you are able to go about your daily life with a reserve of energy, creativity, and problem-solving ability that you can call upon when needed.
Also Read: How Travelling Can Heal Your Soul